Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Update day: the year ahead and what I've been up to

Hi guys, long time no see. I haven't posted on update days in a while, probably 3 months without looking it up. So what have been up to? Lots of stuff, many of it posted here. Animal wise though? One stray cat.

This cat has been hanging around my apartment since the summer at least. I started keeping him fed because I noticed squirrel damage was less with him around. It started getting cold, and we, roommate and I, were able to get him a place to stay. I thought.

He's back in the neighborhood, and a limp we noticed before may be infected. I don't know since I just got a message from my roommate on facebook about this and haven't seen this first hand. I'm just gonna dump right here because whatever, that's what this is for.

I feel like I haven't done what I should or need to do for this cat. I can't have animals in my apartment, if I could this dude would be living in my place. I can't have animals, so I become more concerned with cats in the area because I've always had pets growing up. Now I work to keep myself alive and think "Man, I wish I had enough so I could move to a place to get an animal, and also have enough to keep said animal supported". Basically at this point my goal is this cat. I'm going home, finding this cat, and keeping it inside while I figure out a way to keep him well. Fun times for me.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Drawing spheres on the surface of a hypercube

I could write another description of what the higher dimensions are, but personally I "A Wrinkle in Time" to describe that to me when I was 8 years old. Whatever that book left out was filled in by years of video games and movies to fill in the gaps. You know what the first dimension is, and the second and the third. You can't picture anything higher than that, but that's not a problem because the best of us can't. I'm here to talk about a much crazier, much wilder idea.

The problem with describing anything higher than 3 dimensions is that the task of imagining what a 4 dimensional cube or sphere looks like and this is impossible. Physically adding an extra dimension for the sake of modeling the 4th dimension is like blaming penguins for me being bad at analogies. This doesn't have to be the case though, because it's easier to imagine what a pyramid looks like on the surface of a hyper-sphere or a hyper-cube. This is because the surface of a 4th dimensional object has 3 dimensions. Allow to me to explain.

A cube is a 6 sided object with 12 equal edges. What makes it a cube is the fact that it has height, length, and width. Each side, or face, has only length and width thereby making it a 2 dimensional plane. A cube is a solid object bounded by a 6 equal squares. A cube is an easy place to start because it can be given to a child along with a Sharpie and they can draw all manner of shapes on its surface. Then Euclidean geometry can be explained to the child because they need to grow up sometime and understand how basic shapes can be modeled by numbers. All the shapes will fall under the basic rules: squares will have angles that add up to 360o and areas equal to their length times their height, triangles have angles that add up to 180o and have areas equal to its height times its base.

Anyone went the extra step for geometry knows that the properties of these shapes change when drawn along a curved surface, like a sphere. A sphere is a solid object bounded by equal circles, which means that a line is no longer straight, a line becomes curved. All lines are great circles and all great circles intersect. A great circle is the equator for simple reference. These lines can still draw shapes on a sphere it's just that the properties of the shapes change. A triangle angles are equal to 180o plus the area of the triangle. This makes transferring shapes from the surface of a globe to a flat map hard since the shapes are not the same.

A hyper-sphere is a catchall term referring to a sphere with more than 3 dimensions. A 3-sphere is a 4 dimensional sphere, bounded by 3 dimensional circles. All great circles on a 3-sphere are great spheres. Much like we can draw squares, circles and triangles on the surface of a ball, we could draw cubes, spheres and pyramids on the surface of a 3-sphere. A cube on the surface of hyper-dimensional object would have 12 equal curved edges, or better yet it would be the intersection of six spheres touching. As long as the distance of each edge remains the same, then distortion of the cube would be the same no matter where it is along the surface of the hyper-sphere. Along a hyper-hyperbola however, its proportions would change depending on its location along the 3 dimensional curve. Sometimes it would have finite volume, other times it would have infinite volume.

I'm stopping here for today. I've thought too hard about this for too long which feels like prolonged exposure to hallucinogenics. My advice is to picture distorted boxes, because as soon as you try to imagine yourself standing on the surface of a 4D sphere it brings up a lot of weird questions. Does a 4th dimensional light source create a 3rd dimensional shadow? Am I a 3D shadow of my 4th dimensional self? Don't think about it, it's too much.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Monday morning tin foil

I want to be ahead of the curve here, so I'm going to say that The Interview was actually really bad and in danger of losing money, so the NSA and Sony got together and hacked the company just so they could blame it on North Korea. Never mind that  it put hundreds of people financial security at risk, it was all just act so they could have an excuse to blame our enemies and possibly start a new war, I guess? Does this sound like a good conspiracy theory yet? Oh, wait!

Why would they do this? Well, isn't it convenient that it happens to be going on right  as protests are going on in Washington D.C. with a new civil rights movement? Or that it just happens to coincide with legalization of medical marijuana, which is like the government just giving up on the war on drugs? The hack was planned to distract us from what's really going on, much like how the Kardashian's were built in a bunker to keep us docile and stupid.

Open your eyes, sheeple! Doesn't it seem too easy, or too convenient that a country we've been enemies with for years just happened to hack us?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Post later!

I just finished a new post. It's really long and math heavy, like usual, so I'm gonna find some pictures to make it easier to read. Big walls of unformatted text is hard to read as well as my biggest weakness as a blogger.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Short today

Writing is meditation. As meditation, writing is an eyeglass used to examine and make sense of not the only the world, but also ourselves. Meditation breeds awareness. Without awareness, the world becomes a mess of emotions that come from unknown sources that passes by like a moving background. Ignorance causes confusion. Mediation is a light in the darkness, so those of us logically inclined can see the relation with writing transitively speaking.

Emotion is fine. Emotion is an interpretation of life and experiences, and a life without experiences is a dull existence in a comatose state. Learn to love. They tell me as an experience it is the happiest experience, as well as being just one hell of a high. Depression is awesome. When the inverse is behind me, happiness is less of a lifting sensation and more of powerful flying force thru the sky. Beware the valleys. Emotion is never stable, it comes on along a sine wave across the drops and dips with amplitudes of varying proportion.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Can data be stored on fungus?

There's this guy, Andrew Adamatzky from the University of West England, that I think you should know about. More importantly, it's his work that is important. He's part of the faculty of computing, but his work mostly seems to focus on cellular automata, which involves really cool fun stuff like Conway's Game of Life and using single cells as ways to solve problems. What drew me to him is his work with slime molds.

I found this yesterday, but I've been aware of his work for about a month now. This is one of the papers that have come out since Physarum polycephalum has been shown to solve shortest path problems.

It's not special to any of us that have solved a maze, it simply fills the entire maze with slime then kills whatever is not the shortest path between both oat flakes. This does have a name in computing though. It's called a flood fill algorithm, and what makes this interesting on a second watch through is that slime mold is a single cell organism with no brain and it always finds the shortest path, even if it has to create a path under the wall.

This work was done by another man, Toshiyuki Nakagaki, and it's really cool if you think about it. A single cell organism displays basic intelligence! Single cell is underselling it a little because it's a single cell with multiple nuclei. It's a fairly common yellow mold found on decaying logs and such. And it's better at solving mazes than me.

Enter Adamatzky. His work with physarum looks at it's computing potential as well as its ability to solve various problems. The link in the begining is a description of how to "program" slime mold and how to create a Komlogorov-Uspensky machine. My impression of it as a mycologist is that after reading this I'm not really sure how a KU machine works. It doesn't really seem to make me stand up and say "Oh wow, think of the possibilities!" It is mentioned that KU machines are the forefathers of RAM in modern computers, but no benefits are mentioned about slime mold over standard silicon.

In order to be a Kolmogorov-Uspensky machine, it needs to meet certain criteria, which Adamtzky outlines and shows is possible. For starters, a KU machine is said to similar to a Turing machine. Where a Turing machine is a theoretical machine that takes in a linear tape with characters on it and manipulates the characters due to a certain set of rules (citation) a Kolmogorov-Uspensky machine uses a non-linear graph. So to be a graph it needs nodes and edges connecting the nodes. This I get, but what is unclear to me is what the output is. I do understand RAM as much as a hobbyist who took a few classes in high-school can understand RAM, so I assume that the output of the machine is whatever was saved from the input, I guess?

Well, he demonstrates stationary nodes and dynamic nodes in his graph. A stationary node is a slime mold colony that grows on a oat flake or nutrient source. It will stay in the same place until the nutrition runs out. A dynamic node is a slime mold colony that appears when two or more plasmodium tubes connect. It can be removed by destroying the connecting tubes.

To be a KU machine, it needs to be able to send information back and forth between nodes. In a graph on paper, a line between group x and y can only move one way, x to y, so there needs to be a second line running y to x in order to be a KU machine. With physarum one plasmodium tube between the colonies will periodically reverse nutrient flow.

Each colony needs to have an easily identifiable address, like how computers have IP address to identify themselves on a network or computer parts have MAC addresses to tell the processor what kind of part it is. His solution is to place colors under each colonies, so there is a colony with a yellow address or green address and whatever.

What's great about this is it explains how it's a KU machine. It explains how to program said machine. I have no idea what this machine does or should do, though. If it's just a set up to show that can be done, well then that's awesome. If it stores data, then I want to know how to access the stored data. What this has given me though is a starting point for not only graphs, but how graphs, computer engineering, and their relation to not just slime mold but all types of mold. I'll bring more on that in the coming weeks. What's great about Adamatzky's work is that this one demonstration of slime molds relation to computer science. He also writes about how these molds can form logic gates, he explains that when two colonies absorb different dyes and connect, the dynamic node is the color of the combination of the dyes. It's a good starting point, really.

Allow me to answer the why real quick, or at least what I think the benefit is. Mold is an organism that can repair itself when damaged, remove parts of itself when needed and creates new connections in order to better solve that shortest path problem. If data could be stored and accessed on mold, then it would be able to make faster connections based on often we needed data stored at various addresses.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

ISWG for yesterday

I almost forgot ISWG! It's late guys, but I think most of you should know that yesterday was a time for writers on the internet to get together and talk about the fears that keep them up at night. Brought to you by Alex J. Cavanaugh.

I'm turning 27 next month. When is the official age to freak out and worry about old we are? 30 seems trivial, because only a third of a life time has gone by if I live to an average age. But my packaging isn't new and shiny anymore though. How old is old isn't the point, the point is that I like to make my own landmark years to celebrate, and I like to celebrate them the best I can. I lived in a tent when I was 21, and the stories I got from that are stories I still enjoy telling. When I was 24, I hitchhiked New Zealand, moved out of my homestate of Vermont to Pennsylvania, and changed jobs from 'farmer' to 'mushroom scientist'. Why 24? Because 24 is 42 backwards, duh. And now 27 is coming up, which is 3 cubed and also the time when a lot of rock stars I loved when I was 19 died. All told, this year is a year I will make epic because I can.

With some extra free time I had 3 weeks ago, I started a book. In three weeks, it has about 4,000 words. This is terrifying because when it comes to books I've heard stories of people talk about it take them somewhere between 3 to 8 years to finish a book. Getting a book published in that time, well fine I can deal with that. At this rate though, 50,000 words will be done somewhere about October. I would rather be editing at that point though.

1,000 words a day is a lot. I remember it being way shorter in school, when they would tell us to write an essay and once we started writing we would have a tough time keeping it below 1000 words. Maybe it's the subject matter? Non-fiction about mushrooms and math. Well, we'll see.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Reading list

2015 is coming up, my droogs and padrogas. I think that coming up with a list of stuff to read or just to keep my eye out for in the next year is in order. I guess these are reading goals for 2015.

First, to get it out of the way, the hard stuff:

  1. The Autobiography of Malcolm X

  2. It's in my local library. I think the time is right to reexamine some of the classic stuff from a more radical time.
  3. The Diary of Søren Kierkegaard

  4. I've always avoided Kierkegaard. I think it's the name, or maybe it's that christian philosophy and ethics tends to ask the reader to assume that there is a God (That was I never made it far with Pensées by Pascal at least.) This was just suggested because he gets into some stuff about the indivual vs the group, and the quotes look good.
  5. Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid

  6. I need to re-read this. It has to be done.
  7. Principia Mathematica

  8. There are books I find myself returning to every now and then, because as I change, so does the book. Siddartha is that book. Bertrand Russell is an author and a thinker I find myself returning to a lot, like Kurt Vonnegut or George Carlin. For the record: George Carlin is equal to Bertrand Russell.
  9. Two treatises of Government

  10. If I have to hear John Locke argued one more time by another political pundit, I'll explode. I've already got a bit of anarchist theory under my belt, so why not throw this into the pile as well?
    Wow, that is a heavy list. 24 books are going to make this list, that's a goal of 2 books a month. If it keeps going like this, you'll find me hanging in my closet by May.
  11. When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?

  12. This book, like Gödel, Escher, Bach above, has been on my "to read again" list for a few years. 2015 is as good a time as any, I think.
    Jesus, I'm boring. I'm looking through my Goodreads recommendations for something light and fun to read, and its mostly books on programming, math and eastern philosophy with some comic books thrown in there. Oh! Wait!
  13. Cyrptonomicon

  14. On my book shelf. I loved Snowcrash and I found this book for like $0.50 at a book sale.
There is the first 7. I can actually think of more, but I want to go home and find some light reading. Most of the stuff I can think of is pretty heavy, and life just isn't fun with out light fluff. Hey, maybe the next list will have some actual insights on these books.