Category: entropy

why all creative work has already been written

May 10th, 2010 — 3:59pm

At the most fundamental level, all computer programs are composed of a series of zeroes and ones. And any series of zeroes and ones can be translated into the sort of base 10 number with which we are all familiar, which is also called an integer. Integers are positive and negative whole numbers, including zero itself. All of which means that there are numbers, very big numbers certainly, but unique numbers, which have qualities innate to them that are bizarre and fascinating and completely context-dependent.

For instance, somewhere in the universe it is a certainty that there is a rock or a cosmic dustball with the exact number of molecules composing it, which when written out into binary code and fed into a Macintosh computer, will be the program ‘Photoshop CS5’. One molecule more or less and the program will crash. That number is and always will be that number, but its relation to CS5 was completely dependent on bizarre and unpredictable chains of events.

There is an integer, which when translated into base 26 is ‘The Sun Also Rises.’ Hemingway didn’t write that book, he just located a number on the infinite ‘X’ axis of the multiverse.

Comment » | entropy

5.8 earthquake in the Chino Hills

July 29th, 2008 — 5:03pm

The house begins to shake and I pause for a moment to sense if it’s an earthquake or just the passing of a truck outside… and the shaking grows, and I get that unmistakeable sense of joy and freedom as I leap to the nearest doorway.

It’s not noble, since earthquakes kill, but I can’t help feeling an intense urge for the big one to come and shake this house to the ground around me, as if the power of nature were somehow just an outgrowth of my natural urge to fight the ever-grinding weight of culture and Capitalism that forces each of us to toil away at the seemingly meaningless jobs that put food in our mouths and rooves over our heads: Bring it all down! Who cares about tomorrow with it’s complete lack of a functioning water system in this arid desert environment, the roving bands of starving blue collar workers marching from house to house with shotguns and knives looking for loot and a release to their long-smoldering anger and frustration, the armed guards building a causeway to carry relief supplies to Beverly Hills as the rest of the city burns, columns of black smoke rising from car fires and buildings gone to the torch, sparking electrical wires skittering over the blacktop, spraying sparks across overturned cars, stray dogs rotating above a frontyard pit of coal and scrapwood feeding tiny children who clutch at the smoldering fur of a Chow that is now chow, the very foundation of our society gone to ruin: DESTROY THIS MOTHERFUCKER…

–but then the shaking stops, and KCRW pauses a song by the Fratellis to tell us that it’s a 5.8 temblor centered in Chino, wherever the fuck Chino is… Time to go back to work.

Comment » | anxiety, entropy, Whining

A Streetcar Named Jack Daniel’s

July 29th, 2008 — 2:50pm

Like one of those gothic southern plays, my parents are descending into oblivion. Father has cancer and his chemotherapy is failing, so on a visit to my sister’s house last weekend he got into a horrible pattern of taking everyone to dinner, ordering something that he loves (because he’s dying so he might as well eat what he wants), and then having a couple of bites and becoming nauseated. Then, since he can’t eat any more, he just sits there at the table talking about his life at the orphanage, how his mother didn’t love him (she is the one who dropped him off at the orphanage after all: ‘come on dear, you’re going to summer camp’), and assorted other unpleasantries.

Meanwhile, my mother, who has lost about 50 pounds since I remember her best, now looks like a deflated balloon and takes the majority of her calories in the form of Jack Daniel’s. It would be total Tennessee Williams if only she were more of a loudmouth.

My sister, who overcame breast cancer with a double mastectomy, has my father’s temper and so she has very little patience with any whining from him. Also, of course, since he was such a hardass when we were young, she wants to see no soft side now. (People get cancer and die; get over it.) I sent my mom Barack Obama’s book, but I just don’t know if it will lift her spirits. (That was a joke, kind of.) The future for everyone is cancer.

Comment » | anxiety, entropy, Whining

Entropy Visualized

May 30th, 2008 — 5:28am

A problem with a lot of modern science is the difficulty of visualizing these things in any manner that doesn’t feel intuitively wrong, like you’re watching an episode of the twilight zone that has been cut up so much to make room for more commercials that it no longer makes any sense. An electron imagined as a wave form of quantum probability that collapses into a definite state only upon observation is really cool, but I don’t know what that LOOKS like…

Interesting article: the arrow of time, which poses a possible answer to the question of why time seemingly moves solely in one direction.

Also interesting is the visual that the article conjures up of a possible model of existence that seems to work intuitively with a human mental model of the world.don't shoot

So picture a rippling plane, like a flag in absolute space, and in its least energetic state the flag is still, which is the state of greatest entropy, which would be equivalent to the point in our far future at which all matter and energy have spread into an even, near-homogeneous void. But then picture the thing in a gentle wind. Fluctuations in either direction of the ideal plane ripple it in the direction of decreasing entropy, each temporal/anti-entropic wave of which falls back eventually toward its natural state. Time is the experience of moving from one of those low entropy ripples toward the high entropy natural state.

So that if our universe is visualized as existing on one of those ripples, another universe might be on a ripple moving in the opposite direction, so that were it ever possible to map an experience in one to that of the other it would seem from each vantage point as if time in the other universe were moving backward. Each observer however would experience his or her movement as being progressive.

The initial image in my head was that of our expanding universe as one of those ripples moving outward, because of the metaphor of the big bang as an outward explosion. But our state is such that we are moving from lesser to greater entropy, in other words, in this image of a rippling flag carried by some Canadian terrified of being mistaken for an American while on vacation, the big bang would be the farthest outer edge of one of those ripples and our universe would be in the process of returning with it to the central state of maximum entropy, which is the flag at rest. All of which would mean that time as it is experienced is a returning of existence toward maximum entropy, regardless of which direction time is moving. Therefore there is no one direction of time, but there is also not somewhere a race of beings who are living “backwards.”

Comment » | entropy, ignorance

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