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Noise amplifies signal.

Noise amplifies signal.

When you apply a stressor, random noise can boost the signal.


Random noise can amplify signal. Stressors pronounce this effect. With some ingenuity, you can apply this effect to obtain surprising results.

Take an image. Here’s one.

Looks great.

Now let’s apply some pressure to the image. They say if you can be squeezed, then one day, you will get squeezed. So we’ll squeeze this poor image.

We’ll press it through something called a threshold filter. With the threshold filter, pixels that are higher than a particular value will be white. Pixels that are lower than that value will be black. It’s a squeeze to the extremes.

Notice what happens to our image after it’s squeezed. We’ve lost a bit of signal to our stressor. Curious, though, that you can still make out the individual leaves on the trees.  Nature is inherently noisy. There is a good reason to be noisy. So let’s make our image noisy.

You don’t need much noise, just enough to help you survive the squeeze. So let’s put our noisy image through a squeeze.

A lot more signal is preserved. Instead of a black and white cartoon, we’ve got something that looks like a black and white photograph.

We can stress the images a little more. We shrink them and put them side by side to see the difference.

When shrunk, the noisy thresholded image looks even better.

We don’t have to go black and white either. Here is what happens when you do something similar with the full-color image.

The image on the right, with noise, survives the stressor better.

Noise can amplify signal. Stressors pronounce this effect. This is why you want to have variation in your life.

When the stressors hit, the noise amplifies the signal.