curiosity across disciplines

Tolerances and us

It sounds insane, but it's fundamentally impossible to make a cube 16 millimeters on all sides.

Or, for that matter: to make anything exactly anything.

See, the crux of this nonsense is said missing but implied "exactly."

In the realm of making stuff, i.e., manufacturing, one of the most foundational elements of a design is its tolerances.

Essentially, tolerances tell you how close-to-exact a thing needs to be. It defines how much variation is allowed within a particular feature, e.g., a length of 16 +/- 0.1 mm.

But add in the proper tolerances, alongside a few other features, and our cube becomes a die (as in "dice" what is English?!).

For obvious reasons, casino dice tolerances are much more precise than the average set you'll find behind the counter at your local dive bar.

This makes them more expensive too. And, as a design's tolerances get closer to "exact," the costs increase by orders of magnitude.

To recap: nothing we humans make (or nature makes for that matter) is perfectly flat, or perfectly long, or perfectly straight.

Kind of like us, no?

Turn's out, tolerances are good for more than just corny word games.

Stuff has tolerances.

Reality has tolerances.

And we have tolerances.

We show up with variations in our specifications each day. Granted, we can always try to improve these specs; that's called "growth" or "living in a society."

We can even seek to tighten up our tolerances on that path to growth (discipline). But as we do that, we need to remember patience for ourselves and others. It's not just widgets with tighter toleranes that are more expensive; it costs more for us too.

It seems a safe bet that if we can extend the courtesy to gambling cubes to show up slightly different each time, we should be doing the same for ourselves and for each other.