505: A Bunch of Rocks

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
(Difference between revisions)
Jump to: navigation, search
(Explanation: oops, forgot)
Line 22: Line 22:
  
 
==Transcript==
 
==Transcript==
:[Cueball is walking, alone in desert, narrating his own situation]
+
:[Cueball is walking, alone in desert, narrating his own situation.]
 
:Narrator: So I'm stuck in this desert for eternity.
 
:Narrator: So I'm stuck in this desert for eternity.
 
:Narrator: I don't know why. I just woke up here one day.
 
:Narrator: I don't know why. I just woke up here one day.
Line 35: Line 35:
 
:Narrator: As best as I can tell.
 
:Narrator: As best as I can tell.
  
:[Cueball is sitting in the desert, in a contemplative position]
+
:[Cueball is sitting in the desert, in a contemplative position.]
 
:Narrator: There's plenty of time for thinking out here.
 
:Narrator: There's plenty of time for thinking out here.
 
:Narrator: An eternity really.
 
:Narrator: An eternity really.
  
:[Cueball is sketching stuff in the sand]
+
:[Cueball is sketching stuff in the sand.]
 
:Narrator: I've rederived modern math in the sand
 
:Narrator: I've rederived modern math in the sand
 
:Narrator: and then some.
 
:Narrator: and then some.
  
:[Different graph types are depicted]
+
:[Different graph types are depicted.]
:Narrator: Physics too. I worked out the kinks in quantum mechanics and relativity.
+
:Narrator: Physics too. I worked out the kinks in quantum mechanics and relativity.
 
:Narrator: Took a lot of thinking, but this place has fewer distractions than a Swiss patent office.
 
:Narrator: 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]
+
:[Cueball is walking along the desert, laying out rocks.]
 
:Narrator: One day I started laying down rows of rocks.
 
:Narrator: One day I started laying down rows of rocks.
  
:[Cueball continues to deploy rocks]]
+
:[Cueball continues to deploy rocks.]
 
:Narrator: Each new row followed from the last in a simple pattern.
 
:Narrator: Each new row followed from the last in a simple pattern.
  
:[Image continues to zoom out showing laid out rocks]
+
:[Image continues to zoom out showing laid out rocks.]
 
:Narrator: With the right set of rules and enough space,
 
:Narrator: With the right set of rules and enough space,
  
Line 63: Line 63:
 
:Notation: *Turing-complete
 
:Notation: *Turing-complete
  
:[Cueball in contemplative pose]
+
:[Cueball in contemplative pose.]
 
:Narrator: After a while, I programmed it to be a physics simulator.
 
:Narrator: After a while, I programmed it to be a physics simulator.
  
:[Image of binary encoding depicted in rocks]
+
:[Image of binary encoding depicted in rocks.]
 
:Narrator: Every piece of information about a particle was encoded as a string of bits written in the stones.
 
:Narrator: Every piece of information about a particle was encoded as a string of bits written in the stones.
  
:[Representations of two particles interacting]
+
:[Representations of two particles interacting.]
 
:Narrator: With enough time and space, I could fully simulate two particles interacting.
 
:Narrator: With enough time and space, I could fully simulate two particles interacting.
  
:[Cueball standing before the vastness of the desert]
+
:[Cueball standing before the vastness of the desert.]
 
:Narrator: But I have infinite time and space.
 
:Narrator: But I have infinite time and space.
  
:[Depiction of a universe]
+
:[Depiction of a universe.]
 
:Narrator: So I decided to simulate a universe.
 
:Narrator: So I decided to simulate a universe.
  
:[Cueball is walking about his rocks, changing placement]
+
:[Cueball is walking about his rocks, changing placement.]
 
:Narrator: The eons blur past as I walk down a single row.
 
:Narrator: The eons blur past as I walk down a single row.
  
:[Zoom out of the rows of rocks]
+
:[Zoom out of the rows of rocks.]
 
:Narrator: The rows blur past to compute a single step.
 
:Narrator: The rows blur past to compute a single step.
  
:[Shows placement of two rocks]
+
:[Shows placement of two rocks.]
 
:Narrator: And in the simulation...
 
:Narrator: And in the simulation...
  
:[The two rocks have moved; an after-image of their previous placement is present]
+
:[The two rocks have moved; an after-image of their previous placement is present.]
 
:Narrator: ...another instant ticks by.
 
:Narrator: ...another instant ticks by.
  
:[A person observes a mote of dust vanish]
+
:[A person observes a mote of dust vanish.]
 
:Narrator: So if you see a mote of dust vanish from your vision in a little flash or something
 
:Narrator: So if you see a mote of dust vanish from your vision in a little flash or something
  
:[Cueball is rearranging rocks]
+
:[Cueball is rearranging rocks.]
 
:Narrator: I'm sorry. I must have misplaced a rock...
 
:Narrator: I'm sorry. I must have misplaced a rock...
:Narrator: ...sometime in the last few billions and billions of millennia.  
+
:Narrator: ...sometime in the last few billions and billions of millennia.
  
:[Cueball in front of the vastness of his infinite desert]
+
:[Cueball in front of the vastness of his infinite desert.]
 
:Narrator: Oh and...
 
:Narrator: Oh and...
  
:[Cueball is in a classroom setting, girl and professor are present]
+
:[Cueball is in a classroom setting, girl and professor are present.]
:Narrator: if you think the minutes in your morning lecture are taking a long time for _YOU_...
+
:Narrator: if you think the minutes in your morning lecture are taking a long time for <u>YOU</u>...
  
 
{{comic discussion}}
 
{{comic discussion}}
 
[[Category:Comics featuring Cueball]]
 
[[Category:Comics featuring Cueball]]
 
[[Category:Physics]]
 
[[Category:Physics]]

Revision as of 00:39, 20 February 2013

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

Explanation

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. The Swiss patent office line refers to Albert Einstein, who supposedly came up with the idea for general relativity while bored at work as a Swiss patent clerk.

Next, armed with infinite time and space (and rocks), 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 computer program (given finite-but-possibly-extremely-large time and space). He specifically seems to be running Wolfram's Rule 110, which is indeed capable of universal computation. Cueball then uses his enormous, hand-powered computer to simulate a universe.

The time needed to run this computer through a single step of computation is trillions of years, so it goes without saying that he's been at this for a very long time.

Specific references made in the artwork:

Rule 34 is a humorous rule of the Internet which states "If it exists, there is porn of it. No exceptions." Wolfram's Rule 34 is a cellular automaton. Randall is suggesting that someone should make pornography featuring the cellular automaton in question. This might prove to be quite challenging as Rule 34 quickly devolves into a bunch of diagonal lines given almost any input.

Transcript

[Cueball is walking, alone in desert, narrating his own situation.]
Narrator: So I'm stuck in this desert for eternity.
Narrator: I don't know why. I just woke up here one day.
Narrator: I never feel hungry or thirsty.
Narrator: I just walk.
Narrator: Sand and rocks...
Narrator: ...stretch to infinity.
Narrator: As best as I can tell.
[Cueball is sitting in the desert, in a contemplative position.]
Narrator: There's plenty of time for thinking out here.
Narrator: An eternity really.
[Cueball is sketching stuff in the sand.]
Narrator: I've rederived modern math in the sand
Narrator: and then some.
[Different graph types are depicted.]
Narrator: Physics too. I worked out the kinks in quantum mechanics and relativity.
Narrator: 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.]
Narrator: One day I started laying down rows of rocks.
[Cueball continues to deploy rocks.]
Narrator: Each new row followed from the last in a simple pattern.
[Image continues to zoom out showing laid out rocks.]
Narrator: With the right set of rules and enough space,
Narrator: I was able to build a computer.
Narrator: Each new row of stones is the next iteration of the computation.
Narrator: Sure it's rocks instead of electricity, but it's the same* thing.
Narrator: Just slower.
Notation: *Turing-complete
[Cueball in contemplative pose.]
Narrator: After a while, I programmed it to be a physics simulator.
[Image of binary encoding depicted in rocks.]
Narrator: Every piece of information about a particle was encoded as a string of bits written in the stones.
[Representations of two particles interacting.]
Narrator: With enough time and space, I could fully simulate two particles interacting.
[Cueball standing before the vastness of the desert.]
Narrator: But I have infinite time and space.
[Depiction of a universe.]
Narrator: So I decided to simulate a universe.
[Cueball is walking about his rocks, changing placement.]
Narrator: The eons blur past as I walk down a single row.
[Zoom out of the rows of rocks.]
Narrator: The rows blur past to compute a single step.
[Shows placement of two rocks.]
Narrator: And in the simulation...
[The two rocks have moved; an after-image of their previous placement is present.]
Narrator: ...another instant ticks by.
[A person observes a mote of dust vanish.]
Narrator: So if you see a mote of dust vanish from your vision in a little flash or something
[Cueball is rearranging rocks.]
Narrator: I'm sorry. I must have misplaced a rock...
Narrator: ...sometime in the last few billions and billions of millennia.
[Cueball in front of the vastness of his infinite desert.]
Narrator: Oh and...
[Cueball is in a classroom setting, girl and professor are present.]
Narrator: if you think the minutes in your morning lecture are taking a long time for YOU...
comment.png add a comment! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!

Discussion

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. 66.202.132.250 16:44, 10 June 2013 (UTC)

It's a Feynman Diagram 206.174.12.203 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! 141.101.98.241 (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! 173.245.50.88 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? 199.27.128.99 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Personal tools
Namespaces

Variants
Actions
Navigation
Tools

It seems you are using noscript, which is stopping our project wonderful ads from working. Explain xkcd uses ads to pay for bandwidth, and we manually approve all our advertisers, and our ads are restricted to unobtrusive images and slow animated GIFs. If you found this site helpful, please consider whitelisting us.

Want to advertise with us, or donate to us with Paypal or Bitcoin?