505: A Bunch of Rocks
|A Bunch of Rocks|
Title text: I call Rule 34 on Wolfram's Rule 34.
| This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: What is the diagram to the right of the Epitaph of Stevinus? Many items are not well explained.|
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Cueball then apologizes for any flaws we see in the simulation. This implies that the audience is living in Cueball's simulation, making Cueball essentially God.
The final frame cuts to a classroom where a bored student stares at his hands waiting for class to end. Cueball admonishes the student for thinking that class is lasting forever. The joke being that the boredom felt in a classroom is nothing compared to the boredom that inspires Cueball to spend his time toiling to keep the universe moving.
The title text suggests that Rule 34 should be called on Wolfram's Rule 34. Rule 34 (see 305: Rule 34) is a humorous rule of the Internet which states "If you can imagine it, there is porn of it. No exceptions." Wolfram's Rule 34 is a cellular automaton. Therefore the title text says that someone should make pornography featuring the cellular automaton in question.
The three diagrams in the "Physics, too. I worked out the kinks..." panel are, from left to right:
- The Normal distribution of the Gaussian curve marking the points that represent a of a standard deviation of σ and 2σ. This is one of the fundamental building blocks of statistics.
- The Epitaph of Stevinus, an explanation of the mechanical advantage of using an inclined plane. The inclined plane is one of the six classical simple machines, one of the fundamental building blocks of mechanical and civil engineering.
- A weird diagram with lines in it [Nugui suggest partitioning of phase space into fundamental cells dqdp = h (Planck's Constant)].
The graph that represents partial interaction is a Feynman Diagram. This shows the interaction of subatomic particles who collide and exchange some momentum via a photon. The slope of the middle line represents the distance moved and the time lost/gained during the interaction.
The Swiss patent office line refers to Albert Einstein, who was employed as a Swiss patent clerk while coming up with his theory of general relativity. Also there is a standing joke that very few important inventions have come from Switzerland, since the country hadn't been involved in the world wars, and thus has not been part of the weapons race, nor was it a driving force in the preceding Industrial Revolution.
Cueball mentions that if we see an artifact flutter in and out of reality he must have made a mistake in the last "billions and billions of millennia." This implies the small period of time artifact is present in his time is longer than our universe has existed. This is a very long time.
 Cellular Automaton
Cueball uses the rocks to build a cellular automaton, a computational model based on simple rules to advance from one state to the next. Certain cellular automata are Turing-complete, which means that they can be used to represent any conceivable algorithm if expanded infinitely. He specifically seems to be running Wolfram's Rule 110, which is capable of universal computation. When using Rule 110 for universal computation, one builds a background pattern, which can be seen in the comic as the pattern of smaller triangles, and then performs computation by sending out "rockets" to collide and interact with each other.
- [Cueball is walking alone in a desert, narrating his own situation.]
- So I'm stuck in this desert for eternity.
- I don't know why. I just woke up here one day.
- I never feel hungry or thirsty.
- I just walk.
- Sand and rocks
- stretch to infinity.
- As best as I can tell.
- [Cueball is sitting in the desert, in a contemplative position.]
- There's plenty of time for thinking out here.
- An eternity really.
- [Cueball is sketching stuff in the sand.]
- I've rederived modern math in the sand
- and then some.
- [Different graph types are depicted.]
- Physics too. I worked out the kinks in quantum mechanics and relativity.
- Took a lot of thinking, but this place has fewer distractions than a Swiss patent office.
- [Cueball is walking along the desert, laying out rocks.]
- One day I started laying down rows of rocks.
- [Cueball continues to deploy rocks.]
- Each new row followed from the last in a simple pattern.
- [Image continues to zoom out showing laid out rocks.]
- With the right set of rules and enough space,
- I was able to build a computer.
- Each new row of stones is the next iteration of the computation.
- Sure it's rocks instead of electricity, but it's the same* thing.
- Just slower.
- [Cueball in contemplative pose.]
- After a while, I programmed it to be a physics simulator.
- [A particle labeled by binary strings.]
- Every piece of information about a particle was encoded as a string of bits written in the stones.
- [A Feynman diagram showing two particles interacting.]
- With enough time and space, I could fully simulate two particles interacting.
- [Cueball standing before the vastness of the desert.]
- But I have infinite time and space.
- [Depiction of various galaxies and other systems.]
- So I decided to simulate a universe.
- [Cueball is walking about his rocks, moving them around.]
- The eons blur past as I walk down a single row.
- [Zoom out of the rows of rocks.]
- The rows blur past to compute a single step.
- [Shows placement of two particles.]
- And in the simulation...
- [The two particles have moved; an after-image of their previous placement is present.]
- ...another instant ticks by.
- [A person observes a mote of dust vanish.]
- So if you see a mote of dust vanish from your vision in a little flash or something
- [Cueball is holding two rocks, rearranging them.]
- I'm sorry. I must have misplaced a rock
- sometime in the last few billions and billions of millennia.
- [Cueball in front of the vastness of his infinite desert.]
- Oh and...
- [Cueball in a classroom setting with head in hands, girl and professor are present; there are apparently less than five minutes left in the class.]
- If you think the minutes in your morning lecture are taking a long time to pass for you...