Archive for the ‘Rudy’s Blog’ Category


Time Paradoxes. Hollow Earth Sequel. Gibson’s “The Peripheral.”

These days I’m starting—or thinking of starting—a sequel to my 1990 novel, The Hollow Earth. The sequel might be called, in classic style, Return to the Hollow Earth. For convenience, in my writing notes I refer to the volumes as HE1 and HE2.

The set-up for HE1 was that I found the 1850 manuscript of “The Narrative of Mason Algiers Reynolds of Hardware, Virginia” in the University of Virginia Library. It was written by Mason Reynolds. I edited it and published it as The Hollow Earth in a first edition in 1990, and in a second edition in 2006, with a projected third edition to appear in 2018 along with the HE2 sequel.

The afterword to the second edition includes a useful drawing for orienting yourself. The drawing is in sepia ink on vellum, initialed and hand-dated “M. R. 1852.” In viewing the sketch, understand that it depicts a cross-section of Mason’s Hollow Earth, sliced from pole to pole. The lumpy outer shapes represent the Earth’s crust, partly overlaid with seas. Mason’s Earth has Holes at both poles, and there are several additional holes passing through its seas. The creatures within the Hollow Earth are not drawn to scale.

Running clockwise from the top, features to note are:

The maelstrom at the North Hole. Mason’s dog Arf beneath it. A black god riding a lightstreamer. A gap where an ocean runs through Earth’s crust, with a tiny “fried-egg ship” floating up through it—this corresponds to the hole near Chesapeake Bay. A ballula or giant shellsquid. A second ocean gap, in the vicinity of the Bermuda triangle. A flowerperson (Mason’s soon-to-be wife Seela) on a giant flower. A harpy bird above the inner jungle. The South Hole. A second lightstreamer. Another “blue hole” gap within the sea which is meant to lie, I believe, near Tonga and Fiji. A pair of koladull or shrigs. A third lightstreamer, which leads in towards the center where it meets the fan of a woomo or giant sea cucumber or Great Old One. The center also depicts six Umpteen Seas, another woomo, and the sphere of the Central Anomaly, with MirrorSeas visible within.

In the sequel HE2 we learn that Mason travelled to California in 1950, ended up making a second journey into the Hollow Earth, and—due the time warping qualities of the Anomaly at the center of the Hollow Earth—when he came back our Earth he found himself in, approximately, the year 2050.

I’m doing the time jump in part because there’s such interest in near-future utopias and dystopias these days. Also I want for HE2 to have something majorly different than HE1. In approximately the year 2050, Mason writes his second memoir, Return to the Hollow Earth, or HE2, a volume which Rudy Rucker is going to edit an publish in 2018 or so.

So, okay, the HE2 memoir already exists in MirrorEarth of 2050 that Mason is in. Mason learns of the published volume’s existence after he comes across the published version of HE1, his first memoir. He decides not to read my edition of HE2 before writing it himself. That is, he goes on to write the whole of his HE2 without looking at my published version. This way we water down the creatively vitiating effect of the closed causal loop that I’ll discuss below. And, due to cosmic synchronicity, Mason just so happens to write the same HE2 as the book that already exists because…everything fits. By the way, blindly rewriting an extant book on instinct alone is an idea from a Jorge Luis Borges story, “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote.”

Once Mason finishes writing his HE2, he decides that he should find a to way to send it to his preferred editor, Rudy Rucker, to publish in (approximately) 2018. How will he send it? Metaphorically, he sends it to me via time-reversed email, à la Gibson’s The Peripheral. But I don’t want a lot of trans-time communication happening in my book. It’s more of a rare one-time event. So I’ll say that there’s a special mechanism by which Mason transmits the book: it’s handed over to me by a Great Old One’s pink tendril.

Here’s another image of the Hollow Earth, this one in color, to help you visualize that.

Let me stress the point that, even though HE2 is already in MirrorEarth’s future with Rudy Rucker listed as editor, Mason and the Great Old Ones feel duty-bound to send his HE2 back to me. In this fashion they stave off a potential “Passive Yes & No Paradox” and convert it to a bascially harmless Closed Causal Loop. Say what?

Well, I see three main kinds of time paradox, with the second two being fairly similar.

1. Closed Causal Loop: A future event produces a past event that produces the future event, and so on. The Free Novel: My future self sends me a copy of a novel I plan to write. So I just publish the document as is. Nobody actually had to write it. It emerged.

2. Active Yes & No: I make a phone call to my past self, even though I have no memory of receiving such a call. Did I make the call? Yes and no. Examples: Ineffectual Warning. I have a bad accident, so the next year I’m motivated to phone my past self and tell him how to avoid the accident.. If I don’t have the accident, I don’t make the call, so I have the accident, and I do make the call. Grandfather Paradox: I take out a hit on my grandfather. If he dies, I don’t order the hit and he lives. If he lives, I order the hit and he dies.

3. Passive Yes & No: I get a phone call from my future self. But later, when it’s time for me to make the call to the past, I don’t do it. Did I get the call? Yes and no. Selfish Gambler. I got a tip on the Kentucky Derby from my future self, and I bet on it, and I won big, but then later I don’t get around to passing that tip to my past self. Welshing Novelist. The same as the Free Novel example, except this time, the future author doesn’t bother to send back the novel to the earlier author. In particular, this is what we’d get if Mason didn’t send HE2 back to me.

The Closed Causal Loop isn’t a vicious paradox, and it generates no logical contradictions. The Yes & No paradoxes, however, do seem to require some kind of resolution. Paradox #2 involves, if you will, a sin of commission on the part of the future agent, which #3 involves a sin of omission by the future agent. These paradoxes are sometimes referred to as Consistency Paradoxes.

The solution most often used by SF authors is that of branching time, as shown below. In the figure, the broad paths are worldlines of possible universes. The worldlines can branch. The dotted arrow-lines are paths of influence from future to past.

The solution to paradox #2 is that A does something to the past, but the action takes place on a branched-out stub of A’s timeline. The solution to paradox #3 is that the agent who caused event B was in a different time branch, so it wasn’t necessary for A to do it.

In the case of Mason not sending back the book, for instance, we’d have to suppose that some good-hearted Mason in a different timeline did send the manuscript into the past of his timeline.

In his recent time-travel novel The Peripheral, William Gibson posits the emergence of a “stub” or fork or alternate timeline for every time a future person “phones” the past. In the image above, I visualize this by showing the stalk of our worldline sending out a stub to meet the incoming signal from the future.

Gibson the allows the future person to continue phoning back to the same stub over and over. It might be more logical to suppose that each successive phone call produces a new sub-stub or sub-sub-stub—as shown on the right. But this would be a conceptual hassle, obfuscating the action of the novel. And, as long as you stuck to the path through the deeper and deeper stubs, the narrative would be the same.

An issue that Gibson doesn’t really get into is whether the world lines and stubs are actively growing while some cosmic meta-time elapses, or whether they might spring into existence fully formed, with the full future and past in place. If the latter, then you would kind of need to have a sub-stub model to make the thing make sense. So probably the former model works better for The Peripheral. And it helps that Bill specifies that the ongoing times of the stub and the main timeline are in synch.

I want to avoid having branching timelines in Return to the Hollow Earth. Yes, I’m working with two Earths: MasonEarth and MirrorEarth (something I’m not getting into in this post). But I don’t want the potential for trillions of time lines. Therefore I’ll limit myself to the closed causal loop paradoxes, and not introduce and Yes & No paradoxes.

For someone sending messages or information to the past, it requires some care to avoid provoking Yes & No paradoxes that require a fork or a multiple timeline. But it’s my feeling that if you tiptoe around gracefully enough, you can contact the past without forking time or provoking a stub. It’s just a matter of being sure to do what already in fact happened. And a matter of being lucky enough that what you want to have happen did in fact already happen.

It could be—at least in my Hollow Earth cosmos—that you’re literally compelled to do the necessary tiptoeing. Particularly if we always have to use a god-like giant-sea-cucumber Great Old One’s tendril to touch the past. We can, I trust, depend on a hyperdimensional Great Old One to have enough finesse to avoid provoking forks—although they will allow closed causal loops.

Let me reiterate that there’s nothing logically contradictory in a closed causal loop. If we think in terms of the universe a spacetime whole that arises all at once, then a closed causal loop is like a knot in the grain. A pleasing natural pattern.

A somewhat relevant remark that Kurt Gödel made to me in the 1970s: “Even if you know the future, this doesn’t meant that you’ll deliberately do the opposite of what you wanted to do.” Here I’d need to recast this to “Even if you can change the past, this doesn’t mean you’ll deliberately change it to something different than what happened. Especially if you like what happened. And you may in fact take measures to ensure that the past happened as you currently believe it to have happened.”

And be sure not to welsh on sending back something good you in fact got from the future way back when—lest you provoke a passive Yes & No.

East Side of the Sierras. Death Valley.

Last week Sylvia and I went on a road trip, across the Sierras at Carson Pass, and then down along the east side of the Sierras through Lone Pine to Death Valley.

It was alternately raining and snowing around Carson Pass. We stayed in a familiar place there called Sorensen’s. I had a great Zen moment near the lodge, snowshoeing across a sodden meadow by a swollen, chaotic river, the snow dropping heavily, at a slight angle to the vertical, etching with white each damp dead grass blade and bosky spring twig. Me there on the bank, the rushing stream, my thoughts, the slightly off-kilter snow, the latent waiting growth all around, the insects under the tree bark, the protozoa in the moss in the stream, my breath, all of us together, no zap mind flash, just standing there, in the One, grateful.

And we headed south through mysterious rainy mountains.

White peaks showing through the fog and clouds.

We spent a night in Lone Pine, at the base of Mount Whitney. Really a cool place, uncrowded, with an Alpine, or no, Sierran, vibe. Love old painted neon signs like this. The trout icon.

From the east side, the Sierras are like a single wall, hundreds of miles long, peak after peak. From the west side you don’t see this, you come up on the mountains through rising foothills. But from the east, it’s, like, wham. The Tetons are like this from the north side in Wyoming. I dug the drainage watershed patterns embossed in snow. Fractal trees.

The “Whitney Portal” access road runs west from Lone Pine, but just a few miles out of town there are these formations called the Alabama Hills—apparently a Confederate Army veteran named them! I loved this one stone, I thought of it as the egg of the Great Auk.

Rolling on towards Death Valley we went through parched badlands with Joshua Trees. Less and less life.

Looking at Death Valley, I keep finding myself saying—“So why did we want to come here?” A good thing we did there was to get up before dawn and see the sun rise at 6:15 am at Zabriskie point. It continued slowly rising for almost an hour, embossing more and more of the wrinkled rocks. This one looked like an elephant, and definitely like something Georgia O’Keefe would paint.

And the parking lot a beautiful three-dimensional space curve.

Feeling chipper, glazed in golden sun, I went off on a two hour “Badlands Loop” hike there.

I only saw one or two others on the Badlands Loop. I liked this spot, kind of like a naturally occurring Zen garden. So empty, so quiet. On the badlands trek, I finally got some new ideas for how to set up the character roster for a sequel to my Hollow Earth novel—the book that I’m currently thinking of writing next.

Repeatedly of late, I’ll have these flashes that the ambient chaotic strange-attractor-type natural processes around me are objective-correlatives for my psychic state, or for my right-that-moment interactions with people. This is in a good way. Like the world is thinking me, instead of me thinking the world.

By the end of the Badlands loop train, I was completely lost, and out of water, and having to scramble over these two hundred foot cones of dirt, getting a brief view of my goal, and then back into the maze, a process so very much like life itself.

At that time, or during the night after, I had a dream or a vision of a really huge McDonald’s, like a golden Hindu temple, or a Vegas casino, wreathed in golden lights, with a facade as intricate as a neon cathedral. And when Sylvia and I left Death Valley to drive home, I was totally convinced that this McDonalds was an actual restaurant that we’d find down by the pawky bar and general store near our Furnace Creek hotel. And I was surprised the golden radiant neon McDonald’s wasn’t there, but then I thought it would be at the next stop, the desolate Stovepipe Wells, and it wasn’t there, and I thought it would be at the skeletal Panamint Springs, and it wasn’t there, and then finally I admitted to myself and to Sylvia that I was suffering from a—hallucinatory delusion.

That happens in a dream sometimes—I’ll see something in the dream, and in the dream I’ll have a false memory that I’ve seen this thing many times. Not good to have that when I’m awake, though.

We checked out this loop called Artist’s Drive, because of the variegated colors of the stones. I like the line of cars in the parking lot. Like feeding at a trough. Mostly we managed to hit more deserted sites than this. But it was worth seeing.

This one battlement shape is cool. Like a Temple of Doom. The Fortress of the Krull.

On the way out of Death Valley we went across a huge mud flat. Got a classic photo of “woman in desert with car” here.

I love the tessellated cracks in mud. Mathematicians have theories about these patterns, you won’t be surprised to learn. All I’ll point out here is that most of the corners have three or four cracks meeting.

We hit Lone Pine again on the way up. Really such a relief to see some green stuff. We looked more closely at the Alabama Hills formations there, and found three live-critter-type fomrations that I’ll call burrowers. They can be messengers from the Holllow Earth. Yeah, three chthonic burrowers named Jeroon, Pahrump, and Bugg. Having three burrowers appear at once is of course too much. So Jeroon might be the main one, the messenger, surprisingly well-spoken. And we meet him first. And on the way down we encounter a hostile Pahrump. And then Jeroen’s friend Bugg saves their ass.

This is Jeroon. He’s a variant of a mutant “grulloo” character from Frek and the Elixir, the man who’s a head that runs around on two arms/legs. I liked Jeroon’s personality, in that book, and could use him again with, what the heck, the same name. “Jeroon” comes from Heironymus Bosch’s actual first name, Jeoren…Bosch himself appears in my novel Hylozoic .

Pahrump looks a little like Donald Trump, although I won’t mention that. Possibly he looks like an enemy of my hero Mason Reynolds in San Francisco. There could even be a direct connection between the apparently human enemy and this burrower.

Bugg might be like the talking cockroach Franx from White Light. Note the woman poking him. He’s Jeroon’s friend.

Found a cool “Mobius strip” loop of rock. And dig the Sierran peak behind.

I’m always down with rocks that have holes in them.

And here’s a magic door to another world. Always convenient to have some of those around. Possibly this leads to Ye Olde Hollowe Earthe!

Spent the night in dead little town called Bridgeport, pretty much the last stop before Carson Pass. Had a terrible meal at this vintage diner style restaurant. Whatever. Loved the red neon and the waitress’s kind, worn face. Always great to be on the road!

At the Boardwalk. Paintings Sale!

My son and his family came down for a day at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk a couple of weeks ago.

The kids frolicking by the water like live Flatland beings, like gothic shadows, so iconic.

I really ate a lot. Like the rat at the county fair in Charlotte’s Web. I got kind of hypnotized by the image of this giant dipped cone. The texture so appealing. Memories of eating these as a boy. I scored one and went down on the beach to eat it alone—I’d just bought ice-cream for the kids and myself a half hour before, and it didn’t seem wise to give the kids even more ice-cream already. But I figured I could handle it.

As always the sinister “Swiss Swings” ride made me uneasy.

It was crowded on the Boardwalk, a Saturday, with the slanting late afternoon sun. Kind of 1930s Coney Island photo look to it.

Great ragged silhouettes of gulls.

I bought rayguns for the kids so we could chase each other around yelling. Especially the little boy. And my wife gave the girls a pair of carrot-handled Easter jumpropes.


“Wild West” acrylic on canvas, March, 2017, 30” x 20”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

My most recent painting is called “Wild West.” After doing four cellular-automata-inspired paintings in a row, it was easy for me to go all the way into abstraction. Daubing away, hour after hour, until the colors all looked right. I made the blue things look a little like legs with feet because I my own leg was sore from bicycling. And then I decided they were blue boots and that, come to think of it, the whole painting has something of a Western theme.

The photo above shows me being in the Wild West recently, that is, in Lone Pine, California, near Mt. Whitney, as part of a road trip to Death Valley. I might get a new painting or two out of that trip.

Meanwhile, I’ve done a lot of paintings lately, and I need to sell some to clear up some space in my house. Check out the images, catalog, and reduced sale prices on my Paintings page!

CAs, Gibson’s Time Travel, Lovecraft, Gleick’s Chaos

I’ve been busy with various projects this month.

As I mentioned before, I put a version of the code for my continuous-valued cellular automata (CA) program Capow on the ultrageek GitHub site.

Here’s a really nice image I made with a CA based on a so-called “activator-inhibitor rule with saturation.” You can see the detailed code for this rule online. And then I made a painting of this image, with things changing, as they do, along the way.

“Soft Zhabo” acrylic on canvas, March, 2017, 40” x 30”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

That guy near the top…is that kangaroo, or maybe a turtle with a lumpy head?

And I reread William Gibson’s wonderful novel, The Peripheral. One aspect I particularly admire about the work is how Bill sidesteps the perennial problem of how to have time travel without getting into such nasty paradoxes as these two chestnuts:

Yes and No: You go back in time and kill your past self as a teen. If you die, you don’t, and if you don’t you do.

Closed Causal Loop. You go back in time and give the blueprints of your time machine to your past self, who then builds the time machine that you’re using. So the time machine “invents itself.”


[“Death of the Hippie”, anonymous poster from Haight-Ashbury, 1967, now in “Summer of Love” show at De Young.]

In The Peripheral, someone has a device that sends and receives information, to and from the past. The act of making a connection produces a fork in causality, and the new branch no longer leads to the future that you are living in. The people in that now-forked-off past branch can affect your present, by doing things via the info link that you’ve set up. But they can’t change your branch’s past.

What gives this a nice time-travel aspect is that some of the characters have access to remotely operated “peripherals,” that is, android-like stand-ins. They’re not just emailing or videophoning to the future, they’re operating a robot that they’re (virtually) in. The heroine, Flynn, is from a down-at-the-heels country town in our time—it’s a Hillbilly Elegy type hamlet—and she gets a future peripheral which is very high-tech and well-equipped.


[Crab-like graffito on Ocean Beach.]

Conversely, the reluctant hero, an alkie named Netherton, and from a future version of London, gets a past peripheral which is a low-tech toy called a “Wheelie Boy.” The Wheelie Boy is like the push-toy a toddler might have, remotely operated, with a crude gyro to keep the handle erect, and a camera and a display screen atop the handle. Netherton can roll the Wheelie Boy around and look through the camera. And Flynne and her friends can see Netherton’s expressions on the Wheelie Boy’s display screen. Just one step up from a Face Time iPhone. But Gibson wonderfully conjures up what it would be like to be telepresent in the past.

Here’s a wonderfully touching scene of Netherton in Flynne’s room via Wheelie Boy.

Gloriously pre-posthuman. In a state of nature. … Her room, [with Netherton] rotating the cam as far as he could, was like the interior of some nomadic yurt. Nondescript furniture, tumuli of clothing, printed matter. This actual moment in the past, decades before his birth. A world he’d imagined, but now, somehow, in its reality, unimaginable. … He turned the camera, studying the shabby, shadowy tableau of lost domestic calm.

By the way, speaking of Bill’s “Wheelie Boy,” in the 70s, I drew cartoons about a character called “Wheelie Willie.” Sometimes when I read Gibson, I find odd little synchronicities. Chaotic eddies on the strange attractor that is cyberpunk. I have a old page of my Willie Willie cartoons on my blog.

One more touching line from The Peripheral, Flynne, wearing a high-tech peripheral in the future, sees some images in an antiques store.

“It was like the pictures in a box at a yard sale, nobody remembering who those people were, or even whose family, let alone how they came to be there. It gave her a sense of things falling, down some hole that had no bottom. Whole worlds falling, and maybe hers too.”

How deep a chord that strikes. If you’re of a certain age, you may have had this experience in sorting through a dead parent’s old photos and papers. Their past like decaying leaves on a forest floor.

Anyway, as I think I’ve mentioned, I’ve been working on a novella called “In the Lost City of Leng,” writing it with my old comrade Paul Di Filippo, who is in fact Rhodinsular (that is, from Rhode Island), as was our man H. P. L. We finished writing what is (one hopes) the final version of the story this week and sent it off to an SF magazine. Oh, and did I mention that I turned 71 this month?

Back to Lovecraft. I’ve been going through some of the stories in his collected works. “The Whisperer in Darkness” is a good one. Dig this condensed quote:

Tales of buzzing voices in imitation of human speech which made surprising offers to lone travelers on roads and cart-paths in the deep woods. They whispered at night in the forest with voices like a bee’s that tried to be like the voices of men—a morbid echo winging its way across unimaginable abysses from unimaginable outer hells. I can still hear that feeble, fiendish buzzing as it reached me for the first time. It was like the drone of some loathsome, gigantic insect ponderously shaped into the articulate speech of an alien species, and I am perfectly certain that the organs producing it can have no resemblance to the vocal organs of man, or indeed to those of any of the mammalia.

Cover of Chaos Package

Back in the computer-hacking mode, riding the momentum of having restored CAPOW, I went ahead an posted a new free GitHub release of the source, manual, and executables of a 1991 Autodesk DOS program that was called “James Gleick’s CHAOS: The Software,” inspired by James Gleick and his brilliant book, Chaos: Making a New Science . The software was written by Josh Gordon, John Walker, and me. I wrote most of the algorithms, Walker did some fractal landscapes algorithms, and Josh Gordon did the interface, and much of the implementation of the algorithm code. The CHAOS program had six modules.

One of my favorites was a Mandelbrot Set program, incorporating: quadratic and cubic Julia sets, quadratic and cubic Mandelbrot sets, and a gnarly cubic connectedness map that I went ahead and named the Rudy set.

My other favorite CHAOS module was a Strange Attractors program showing the Lorenz Attractor, the Logistic Map, the Yorke Attractors, and the Henon Attractors.

The notion of strange attractors lies at the heart of chaos theory. Even now, nearly forty years later, the public at large still doesn’t get what chaos is about. You might try and summarize the main ideas like this:

* Although many natural and mathematical systems evolve according to clear mathematical equations, these systems tend not to be predictable.

* One reason for unpredictability is that any slight perturbation of the system is amplified into big changes later on. This is called sensitive dependence on initial conditions or the butterfly effect—stemming from the folkloric notion that our global weather is so sensitive that, say, the flap of a butterfly’s wing in the Amazon might be linked to a thunderstorm in Detroit a week later.

* A less obvious—and more fundamental—point is that many natural systems are inherently chaotic. The system never settles down. It dances among a wide gamut of values. When a natural system seems to wobble about, there often is not any “explanation.” It’s just being chaotic. That’s how the math happens to work.

* Another non-obvious but even more important point is that, even when a system is behaving chaotically, it’s values aren’t fully random. The unpredictable gamut of values tend to cluster into certain patterns. And these patterns are called strange attractors.The Mandelbrot set itself is a strange attractor for a certain simple process, and the images above are strange attractors as well.

The most famous strange attractor is the Lorenz attractor. Shown above is “Fly Lorenz,” a wonderful 1984 film made by some chaotician Germans called the Institut für den Wissenschaftlichen Film (Göttingen, Germany). Here’s the link, if the embedded video above doesn’t work.


[Frederic Church, “Rainstorm in the Tropics,” 1866, at DeYoung Museum]

Over time, I’ve learned to see strange attractors everywhere. The possible behaviors of the waves at the beach lie upon a large, multidimensional strange attractor that, over the years, I’ve become somewhat familiar with. The surf isn’t random. It’s not like you go out there and see a damp fog in the air instead of an ocean with waves. It’s not true that “anything’s possible.” It’s just that reality is very gnarly.

In his Chaos book, Gleick has a good line about strange attractors—he’s talking about a group of students/researchers who were at UC Santa Cruz in the late 70s and early 80s.

They had a game they would play, sitting at a coffeeshop. They would ask: How far away is the nearest strange attractor? Was it that rattling automobile fender? That flag snapping erratically in a steady breeze? A fluttering leaf? “You don’t see something until you have the right metaphor to let you perceive it.

The above image of the “logistic map” illustrates a fifth fact about chaos. In this image, we imagine there being a parameter that is higher as you move from left to right. For each parameter value, the system’s values dances among the one or two or four or eight or zillion values directly above it. Each of those dances is a strange attractor. As the parameter’s value goes up, the strange attractor bifurcate into ever more complicated patterns. And then you hit full-on batshit pseudorandomicity. Mitchelll Feigenbaum discovered that each bifurcation comes about 4.67 times as fast. That’s “Feigenbaum’s contstant.”

* The transition from periodic to chaotic behavior has a universal quality, that is, we see the same kind of “period-doubling transition to chaos” for many types of systems, often with that same Feigenbaum constant involved.

Back to spotting strange attractors, the “Dynamical Systems Collective” at UC Santa Cruz included such now-legendary figures as Robert Shaw, Norman Packard, Jim Crutchfield, and Doyne Farmer. Gleick quotes a good line from Farmer:

“The same thing really drew all of us: the notion that you could have determinism but not really. The idea that all these classical deterministic systems we’d learned about could generate [seeming] randomness was intriguing. We were driven to understand what made that tick. … The idea that an equation could bounce around in an apparently random way—that was pretty exciting. … It seemed like something for nothing, or something out of nothing.”

Speaking of something for nothing, here’s a simulation of the ordinary water waves equation on a surface, which I ran on Capow and it made a really nice chaotic blob.

And here’s a painting inspired by that.


“Soft Zhabo” acrylic on canvas, March, 2017, 40” x 30”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

I call the painting “Alien Taxi,” because I’m imaging those two odd looking “people” being unsure about whether they should get into it. Winding back to an earlier memory, about fifteen years ago, Sylvia and I spent New Years’ Eve in San Francisco. We went out to the Beach Chalet for midnight, then got a late city bus back to our hotel near Union Square. At one point the bus stopped, and some very wasted guys were at the bus stop, and they got into an agitated discussion with each other as to whether the vehicle in front of them really was in fact a “bus,” or an alien vehicle. After a minute or two, our bus drove on without them. Going to Mars. Or to the year 2017.


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