505: A Bunch of Rocks

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A Bunch of Rocks
I call Rule 34 on Wolfram's Rule 34.
Title text: I call Rule 34 on Wolfram's Rule 34.

[edit] Explanation

Ambox notice.png 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.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.
Cueball awakens to find himself trapped for eternity in an endless expanse of sand and rocks. At first, he uses this time to derive all of mathematics and physics, including quantum mechanics and general relativity. Next Cueball creates a computer that can process any possible function, out of rocks and rules for the interaction between rocks. He then simulates a particle followed by the interactions between particles, followed by the entire universe. The amount of time it takes to simulate the change in the universe from one instant to the next (Planck time) takes an extremely long time as the time it takes to update just one row of rocks can be measured in eons.

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.

[edit] Graphs

The three diagrams in the "Physics, too. I worked out the kinks..." panel are, from left to right:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

[edit] Notes

The Swiss patent office line refers to Albert Einstein, who was employed as a Swiss patent clerk while coming up with his theory of special 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.

[edit] 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.

[edit] Transcript

[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...
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Weird thing with lines in it

probably has something to do with relativity -- two objects moving, arriving at different points at the same time, or maybe a diagram of spacetime. 16:44, 10 June 2013 (UTC)

It's a Feynman Diagram 19:24, 10 June 2013 (UTC) Toby Ovod-Everett

I did add the incomplete tag because this comic and also the explain is still really complex. More important: People without a proper physics background never will understand. --Dgbrt (talk) 21:01, 10 June 2013 (UTC)

There is a short story called "SOLE SOLUTION" by Eric Frank Russell which is quite similar to the one in the story. Just in case that matters. Maob (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Re Rule 34 - the point is that this comic _is_ cellular automaton porn (as are the YouTube videos of Minecraft calculators and the like). Rule 34 works, bitches! (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Not sure what's incomplete about the explain. 0100011101100001011011010110010101011010011011110110111001100101 (talk page) 22:56, 11 February 2014 (UTC)

Yo calculus is the latin word for pebble! I learned this and had to come straight to this page! ahhh connections! Sawyer Biddle

As it turns out, Rule 110 seems to be a really bad way to simulate a universe- you would be much better off using a Cyclic tag system, since Rule 110 takes dozens of generations and potentially hundreds of cells to simulate one step in such a system, or a more sophisticated cellular automaton, such as Wireworld. --Someone Else 37 (talk) 05:12, 9 March 2014 (UTC)

To whoever objected to panel number references, does what I did with first words fix that? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Well, that's a pretty unfair comparison in the last panel, the protag is immortal after all, if I'm immortal I might do the same thing, but hey we got a much shorter life to live (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

The diagram to the right of the Epitaph of Stevinus looks like a system of coupled pendula, often used in math physics courses to illustrate Lagrangian mechanics. Also may relate to elasticity theory. See for example here: http://demonstrations.wolfram.com/ThreePendulumsConnectedByTwoSprings. 03:23, 12 November 2014 (UTC)

If this is true (which seems like the most probable solution so far) then what do the symbols inside the boxes represent? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Spring constants, masses, lengths, etc 18:11, 12 November 2014 (UTC)

The bigger picture that's missing on this explains it that this comic seems to suggest that Cueball is God, as in being stuck in Eternity who happened to build a simulated universe, which we all live in. Seeing how he addresses the reader "So if you see a mote of dust vanish from your vision in a little flash or something I'm sorry. I must have misplaced a rock sometime in the last few billions and billions of millennia." {{ 10:25, 12 November 2014 (UTC)}}

I understand that English might not be your first language, but please clarify. The explanation covers Cueball being godlike. How can we add something that is already covered? Do you require further detail? Are you disagreeing with this assessment? Are you considering this observation irrelevant as your summary for your first comment "added not about Cueball being God" seems to imply? If so why? 17:57, 12 November 2014 (UTC)
nm. I blatantly overlooked the exisiting sentence in the explanation. i blame the layout of this page. inline text that spans the whole available screen width is not pleasant to read on large displays ;) ...as for my English... the confusion stems from my bad keyboard/typing. it was meant to read "added notE about Cueball" for instance, or "as in A being stuck". 08:15, 13 November 2014 (UTC)
you could shrink your window and display narrower lines of text(?) -- I guess it comes down to preference for masochism(?)... idunno. I think one of the most confusing parts of your question (and which may have contributed most to the ESL idea) is "missing on this explains it that...". Also, "as in being stuck" makes more sense than "as in a being stuck", though it seems you're suggesting otherwise (?) and I don't see any text mentioning added not(E) about Cueball) -- oh wait; is this a troll? -- Brettpeirce (talk) 15:14, 14 November 2014 (UTC)

Who or what is Nugui and why is it relivent. 17:57, 12 November 2014 (UTC)

is randall not assuming that his universe (and by implication ours) is finite? if not, one iteration of the machine would still take infinite time. -- 12:42, 26 November 2014 (UTC)

Did anyone notice that the binary numbers pointing to the particle are both 42? 19:26, 27 November 2014 (UTC)

The "diagram to the right of the Epitaph of Stevinus", also described as "A weird diagram with lines in it", or "partitioning of phase space into fundamental cells", or " system of coupled pendula, often used in math physics courses to illustrate Lagrangian mechanics", can be described more literally:

There is are two horizontal rulers with divisions 13 pixels apart and 17 pixels apart, respectively; and diagonal lines showing the correspondence between the first four markings of the upper ruler with those on the lower. The intervals seem to be labeled.

Returning to speculation, I think this suggests an illustration of Length contraction (Lorentz coordinate transformation) in Special Relativity.

Also, I'd like to point out that all three diagrams unify the theme of "working out the kinks in quantum mechanics and relativity": The first illustrates a region of the bell curve where a particle might occasionally fall if it is about to exhibit quantum tunneling; the second relates to perpetual motion, thus hinting at general questions like "does quantum mechanics or relativity allow us to violate the laws of thermodynamics in any way?", and the third is from special relativity. Mrob27 (talk) 20:22, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
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