505: A Bunch of Rocks

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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(Explanation: oops, forgot)
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==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 ~~~~)

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 103.22.201.168 (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. 108.162.221.96 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? 108.162.216.209 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Spring constants, masses, lengths, etc 108.162.221.220 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." {{141.101.105.238 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?108.162.216.209 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". 141.101.105.233 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.108.162.216.209 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. --141.101.98.201 12:42, 26 November 2014 (UTC)

Did anyone notice that the binary numbers pointing to the particle are both 42? 108.162.241.16 19:26, 27 November 2014 (UTC)
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