December 2010

Saturday, the 4th

when there's nothing else to talk about, talk about the weather.

it's snowing in Brussels. this is interesting in itself, because it doesn't often snow in Brussels. but it's been snowing for a week (with periodic breaks), and there's been snow for a week (more or less). real snow. I keep reading on the news that half of europe is having problems with snow. the other half with rain water...

personally, I like it when it snows. we're about to go out walking through the snowing snow. for some reason, "snowing snow" seems more appropiate than "precipitation".

another year is ending soon... the world is a bit upside down. the US leadership is hunting the wikileaks guys, most leaderships are hunting the filesharing folks, and going through an airport means getting an X-ray (in parts of the "civilized" world). a bit depressing, to tell you the truth.

on the other hand, technolgy is doing interesting things. the memristor people keep talking about brains, the multitouch people are promising useful stuff, the graphene guys got the nobel prize, and so on.

nobody can say humanity is boring. very annoying, but not boring. actually, I might just go ahead and call it "annusing", seems the word has a fan (used it on slashdot). it seems fitting that the weather becomes just as crazy as us.

oh, and not to forget. this week we learned from NASA people that some bacteria can adapt to using arsenic in place of phosphorus. I wonder what other processes can be used to replicate life processes.

Sunday, the 12th

discrete math.


you gotta love it.

Sunday, the 19th

When I got home, I sat myself down to start writing. It was raining outside.

I had to write it down. I had to get it through somehow.

I got up and called him, and I said “Joe, I gotta write this book.”

“I know, Jim. You told me.”

“I gotta make it understandable.”


“I have to understand it.”



“It's two in the morning. We were talking about this, and we went home because it was two in the morning..”

“I'm sorry. . . but do you understand I have to write this?”

“Yes. But I'm going to sleep now, Jim.”

And he hung up.

‘And it's gotta be complicated. I mean complex. No, I mean elaborate. No, I mean interesting. Interesting, because if it's not interesting people will stop reading. I hate people. I have this thing to talk about. I have the world to talk about. Dam it, only quantum physics and it's enough to never understand, but that's only the beginning. And people only care for interesting things.’

So I stood at the window and looked at the rain. ‘Do I hate people? I might just despise them. I hate it when I get angry about this. Hating it makes me angry too. Quite the predicament. I like the word predicament. I should use it in the book; it's funny somehow. Why do people think some words are funnier than others?’

It wasn't that dark outside. It was dark, it was raining, but the lights of the city were lighting the clouds. ‘I wonder if the clouds contribute to the electricity bill. If I think about it, they do bring water and people are fond of water. Yeah. I should also use fond of when referring to something vital. It's so easy to think of funny things sometimes. Too bad I can't do it while talking. I should be grateful I don't write like I talk. how I talk? I have to write this.’

A car passed through the rain. ‘splash splash. Maybe words are funny because we use them in funny situations. Leave it to me to state the obvious.’ I sat down. I like to watch the ceiling from time to time. ‘It has a certain finality. No. whiteness. whiteness is stupid. not finality. great writer, can't find a stupid word for an obvious feeling. wholeness. yeah. deffinitely. deffinitely maybe. where the hell did I hear that?’ Writing can be a very personal experience. ‘Reading should be personal too. How the hell are people gonna get any more personal than reading? It's just two people. the writer and the reader. nobody can get between them. well unless there's more than one writer. and the stupid reader's listening to music while reading. damned e-readers. but no. it's personal. it's gotta be personal. but I can't put myself out there. I'm a horrible person. no. I'm just boring. I'd like to be horrible. what would that be like? but I am boring. I can't put myself in the book, the book will be boring.’ I sat up again. The rain had quieted down. I could make out the water dripping from high places. I always feel that that is the end of the rain. Once I can make out water dripping through the rain, the rain seems kind of pointless to me. I mean, if I were to walk through the rain, the dripping would be the part I disliked. ‘not dislike. avoid? no. yes. something.’

‘I have to write this.’ “damn.” ‘dam beavers making dams. I like that letter. The world is big. and it's beautiful. and I hate that I'm so corny. I can't possibly write that. Look, people. Math is not only not boring, it shows how pretty everything is. Nobody listens. Nobody reads 'till the end. too bad nobody's making fonts from naked ladies. . . . rule 34? I wonder what it would be like to try to write thoughts. Not with naked lady fonts. that would probably sell well. write thoughts. when I can't even make them out before they're done. or something like that. and thinking is a dialogue. people do like dialogue. but if you take one person's thoughts and make it into a dialogue between several people, they're implicitly fake and empty. maybe most people are. nope, not true.’

For a story to be readable, it needs structure. More than that, it needs a purpose. I guess I wasn't truly sure about the purpose, so I couldn't write. ‘It never ends. Thinking about it. It has to be a dialogue, because I'm talking about the world. Everything I know is a dialogue, even if there's just one person talking. Maybe there's something wrong with me. I can't think in terms of actions, only discussions.’

‘What the hell am I doing? I can't do this. I hate books that have no story. I need a story. But there is no story. The world just is. No story. How can I tell a story about actual levels of reality? I hate the Matrix people, ruining it like that.’

I sat down again. Head in my hands, staring at the table. ‘I really like writing. Maybe that's my problem. I like writing, I like that when I write other thinking beings don't get in the way and I can fool myself into thinking I'm coherent. Maybe I just like writing, but I don't really have something to say. But I do like writing. The sound of the pen on paper. The letters forming. I love writing on paper. With a good pen. The smell of the ink. impractical. can't move it around easily, can't send it to Joe, can't. . . but I do like writing on paper.’

I got my pen and some paper. ‘I do like to write. . . there's that blue line. just a blue line, curling away. not curling. not flowing. something away. the blue line, making letters, making words. it's thicker in places, thinner in other places. it can end abruptly, it can end in a long thinning curl. dots here and there. the blue meaning. letters, words, but meaning. the whole world, there in the line on paper. white paper. final paper. not final, whole. and blue lines, filling the whole.’ Meanings don't have colors.

Most meanings don't have colors. We don't think of them in terms of colors. Except for meanings of colors. Most likely, we are not explicitely aware of thinking of the colors of meanings. But it's natural to think of meanings as colors. Mixing. Making up the world.

There IS no story to the world. There are truths. I think, therefore I am. Reality is there in the meanings. Somewhere. ‘I have to write about this.’ Our minds work with meanings, but meanings are just colors and shadows in reality. Reality just is. It doesn't ask, it doesn't reason.

Like it or not, once you throw the dice, you can't tell what numbers you'll get. Reality is particularly funny that way. ‘I have to make them understand.’ You know when you're in school, and you have a test, and you'd like to go through the book once more. Reality gives you that. You have everything it has. And still you can't get the result. Quantum physics is a nice theory. You can check that it works. There's no reason for it to work. It's just the simplest thing we've got that works. Not that it's that simple. And quantum physics says that if you have certain objects, you get atoms and you get chemistry. And you can see that there's biology built with that chemistry. How the hell do you get from atoms to biology? Worst than the dice thing. Reality is all there, but you can't put the pieces together.

Why did I want to put the pieces together? It's not a problem. People go on. Not putting the stupid pieces together, they still go on. And it doesn't make sense. They don't know where they are. They can't prove reality is real. There is some reality, that's obvious. But the pen, the paper, the ink. The flowing ink. The meaning. Is it real?

People should know this. I had to write it down. I had to make them understand. You throw the dice. You have your atoms. You have your chemistry, your biology. ok, let's make it simple. Assume these are objective. People. . . are they meaning, are they the sum of their parts? Are the meanings real?

something dies. the body is still there. It is it, but it is not it. It's easy to see why religions get so much money. The mind works with meanings. The meanings aren't all objective. What's objective about classical physics, except that it's a good approximation? But an approximation is not exact. And the meanings. The people. They need to know. They're not real.

Monday, the 27th

hello there.

I've had this idea for some time now, and I took advantage of it being my birthday to justify playing with it. the idea is that if you have sets of natural numbers, you can encode them in a fractional (real) binary number. the nth digit is 1 if the number n is in the set, and 0 if it isn't.

if you do this with the prime numbers, you get (approximately) 0.41468250985111166... after looking around a bit, I found that there's this smart man Simon Plouffe, who made a website Plouffe's inverter, where he has a database of real numbers. I also wanted to see what numbers I got if I looked at pi/4, and I found this page with a binary expansion of pi/4.

it's a bit sad when you get an idea and you see someone else had it before, but that's the way it is. anyway, here are some more of these numbers: 0.6349187201195740649... (lucky numbers; didn't even know until today that there was such a thing as lucky numbers), 0.7656250596... (factorials), 0.9102787972... (Fibonacci).

from the way they're constructed, it's easy to realize if these numbers are rational or not. I wonder what can be said about whether they're transcendental or algebraic. I'm also curious if the distribution of digits in binary notation is related to the distribution of digits in decimal notation.

one thing to note is that this kind of correspondence (real betwen 0 and 1) <-> (set of natural numbers) is not a bijection. because you can write the same real number in two ways (0.1 = 0.0111111... in binary). however, there are at most two sets of natural numbers that correspond to a rational number, and that's it.

another interesting thing is that this can be used to define a distance between functions defined on the natural numbers. if v(A) is the number corresponding to the set A of natural numbers, then v({n|f_1(n) not equal to f_2(n)}) is a distance between the functions f_1 and f_2. It has all the properties of a distance, even though it might be a bit weird that d(n, n+1)>d(n, n^2).

anyway, end of transmission.