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November 17, 2008

#505: A Bunch of Rocks

A Bunch of Rocks

[[Man is walking, alone in desert. Man is 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.

[[Man is sitting in the desert, in a contemplative position]]

Narrator: There’s plenty of time for thinking out here.

Narrator: An eternity really.

[[Man 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.

[[Man is walking along the desert, laying out rocks]]

Narrator: One day I started laying down rows of rocks.

[[Man 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

[[Man 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.

[[Man 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.

[[Man 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.

[[Man #2 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

[[Man is rearranging rocks]]

Narrator: I’m sorry. I must have misplaced a rock…

Narrator: …sometime in the last few billions and billions of millennia.

[[Man in front of the vastness of his infinite desert]]

Narrator: Oh and…

[[Man 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