June 21, 2010
Infinity withinAlbert Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” I love that observation because while there are rules that conform the world we live in, there are no rules that conform our dreams. We have the ability to imagine entire other universes, spoken in other languages, filled with epic stories all their own, such as Tolkien's “Lord of the Rings” masterpiece, or Frank Herbert's “Dune” series, or perhaps the collected works of Shakespeare ...
I recently heard an analogy that was new to me, but has been around for a century: the idea that an infinite amount of monkeys typing on typewriters over an infinite amount of time will ultimately type the collected works of Shakespeare, as unlikely as that event would seem. In this situation 'monkeys typing' represent 'random action,' and “the collected works of Shakespeare” represent 'any specific result.' I think this is an intriguing argument because contained in that statement essentially is an argument for the existence of God.
In an infinite universe where all possibilities are inevitable, everything is inevitable, including a loving creative all-powerful force that willed there to be such an infinite universe in the first place. Within the scope of infinity, its absolutely possible for one human being to know that they have the ability to sacrifice their life and with all-encompassing love save all of humanity, as impossible as that might seem. Or, for someone to realize how trivial a particular lifespan is in the context of infinite lifespans, and thus how trivial are the differences between themselves and others, or how all forms of separation are illusion. Its entirely possible and inevitable that someone would be struck with the wisdom of knowing how infinitely valuable is every opportunity to be compassionate. Likewise there must be infinite opportunities for the pain of love unrequited to be amended (if not in this universe, then in some variation of another). There is not one chosen destiny, not one path, or one opportunity to live or love right. But there are infinite opportunities. Nothing is impossible, and everything is destiny.
Even though the probability of the word 'banana' being typed at random on a 50-key keyboard is less than one in 15 billion, considering the scope of the universe, the scope of infinity, the idea that a monkey typing randomly on a keyboard could ultimately type Shakespeare's Hamlet is something that will ultimately happen. In fact, in the context of infinity, and in infinite universes, time becomes irrelevant and a monkey somewhere must already have typed the collected works of Shakespeare. Essentially, where 'improbable' reaches 'infinity' it becomes 'inevitable.'
So, if the universe is infinite (as it allegedly is according to science's best understanding thus far, i.e. String Theory, M-theory, as well as the Multiverse theory of Cosmology), then every moment itself is infinite (in that it exists in its own universe and in infinite other universes) because the moment before it lead to infinite variations of that moment. I may be just experiencing this particular moment now, as I am writing this (or from your perspective, as you are reading this) and that may be the only moment we collectively are currently aware we are experiencing. But, in an infinite universe (of infinite universes, a.k.a. a Metaverse, or Multiverse), we are always experiencing every moment of our lives, forever. Or, every moment of our lives exists forever, in the sense that time itself is irrelevant in the context of infinite recursive universes. In this particular universe, I just can't control which moment I'm experiencing “now.” The experience of “now” is what gives all the particular context to our lives, and it is contingent on the arrow of time.
How is the universe infinite? We know that the universe is massively, perhaps incomprehensibly, large. Infinity does exist already in obvious ways such as numbers, or in more complicated ideas like String Theory, which essentially defines the most basic components of the universe to be 1-dimensional components termed “strings,” these tiny dimensional objects, that can ranve in size up to the size of the universe exist in 11-dimensional space, and the “vibration” of them is what determines the nature of the basic building blocks of forces (bosons) and matter (femions) which intern are the basic building blocks of everything in the universe. So essentially, with String Theory, the entire universe is made up of the effects of infinite vibrations, or in other words, is one great symphony.
We exist in a universe that is intertwined with infinite other universes; where the infinity of possibilities is as great as the wildest dreams of our imagination, and all that is, has ever been, and will ever be. Perhaps love (human) is the aftermath of a greater love (cosmic), and was intended to be all along. And in the scope of infinity, how could have not have been? Anyways, how could Shakespeare realistically have written so many good works without the help of a little infinite creative potential from above.
June 12, 2010
New York, from a Nintendo perspectiveYesterday I stumbled upon this very fascinating link which combines my fascinations with maps and video games (especially retro games from my younger days):
Check it out and be sure to zoom in to specific areas. I'm sort of familiar with NYY, but I imagine for anyone fairly familiar with the city, seeing it this way would be an interesting trip.
June 11, 2010
GraceI've been thinking about that almost perfect game pitched by Armando Galarraga last week. He truly deserved the honor of being recognized for that feat. But that was taken from him. I think what impresses me the most about the whole incident is the way Galarraga accepted the loss, hugging the visibly shaken ump who made the blown call ... speaking up for him after the game ... saying that he'll tell his son that although its not in the books he once pitched a perfect game. Pitching a perfect game is something remarkable, but I think his graceful accepting of his loss is even more remarkable. Everyone would benefit from striving to demonstrate that same sort of grace and focus the things that really matter in life, the many gifts in life that can't be acknowledged on a score card.
June 8, 2010
A Perfect GameLast week Armando Galarraga of the Tigers almost pitched a perfect game. Actually he did, but at the last possible moment an ump made a terrible call and called the runner safe at first even though he was clearly thrown out by at least a step. My dad even said in all his years watching baseball, this was the worst call he'd ever seen. Afterward the ump was deeply remorseful and said he was "convinced he'd beat the throw, until he saw the replay."
Pitching a perfect game is incredibly rare and to do so would surely be one of the major highlights of any pitcher's career. There have only been 20 perfect games ever pitched. Oddly, the last two were within the previous 25 days prior to Galarraga's near perfect game. A lot of people rightfully would argue that this event is the perfect justification to bring instant replay into the game. But I would disagree: bad calls, even bad calls as terrible as this one, are part of baseball. Human error is a big and important aspect of the game. Just like the variances in each stadium have an effect on the game, the weather, and so many other factors have an effect on the game. Bad calls have always been part of the game. Baseball is perfect without technology. If all the technology that exists today that didn't exist 50 years ago suddenly vanished, baseball would be just fine. It is very much an unfair shame that Galarraga was robed the glory of pitching a perfect game, but in my opinion, its that human aspect that gives heart to the game.
June 6, 2010
Movie Reviews: Splice, The Crazies, and moreSplice: The trailer really doesn't do the movie any justice, there is a lot more to it than just horror. There are a few frightening moments but its really a multi-layered film that examines many things: interpersonal relationships, ethics of science (for and against genetic manipulation) the motivations of corporations. The characters are much more complex than you might expect, with weaknesses and faults. Splice pulls on lots of different emotional strings without coming across as formulaic. Before Splice, the films director Vincenzo Natali was behind the cult hit Cube, another film that shows he has a nack for focusing on interpersonal aspects of a film.
The movie really benefits from feeling free from the rules that usually define a big movie production – the rules that are imposed by big studios that are more concerned about financial returns. Judging by the size of the audience I think they may need to rethink their rules. Last Summer the film that blew away expectations was District 9, which was born out of the ashes of a large studio's interest to make a film based on the Halo video game franchise but when that idea came to an end, the funds raised for it allowed Peter Jackson to let his rookie director Blomkamp make a movie of his own design, without creative control from behind the scenes coming from the movie studio.
The Crazies: I've been waiting for the next best zombie film ever since the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead. The Crazies is that film, and justifiably so since it is itself a remake of another Romero film. This film is a good companion film to the 2004 remake of DotD. In fact, the opening of the film, using a Johnny Cash song (We'll Meet Again), may well be an homage to the 2004 remake of DotD which featured a Cash song over the opening credits (The Man Comes Around). The scenario in this story is slightly different, a biological outbreak (like in 28 Days Later, another great survival horror film) instead of being a zombie outbreak, and its setting is rural instead of urban. One of the best moments of the film I thought came when David (Timothy Olyphant) sensing that they had lost all contact with the outside world (cell phone, internet, etc.) telling his deputy “We're in trouble.” One strength of The Crazies is in the way its makes you feel like you are experiencing the story with the main characters.
Iron Man 2: A pretty good follow up to the first Iron Man. Its good that the same actors and creative team that brought the original was behind this one, with the exception of Don Cheadle taking over the sidekick role. I hope that the forthcoming Avengers is a worth sequel/spin-off.
Green Zone: an action film “based” on actual events that happened around the time of the invasion of Iraq as reported by the Baghdad borough chief of the Washington Post in his coverage. As an action film it was exciting although nowhere near as much as the Bourne Trilogy. And although it likely expresses the same sentiments as its source materials, I wonder how seriously anyone would take a film that is politically relevant but uses the action-film genre as a medium.
Greenberg: the most recent film by Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale, Margot at the Wedding) focuses on a man struggling with life. Greenberg, the main character, is temporarily living in LA housesitting for his brother who is spending the summer in Europe. While there what he is mostly doing is struggling with inner demons in the form of deep insecurities about his self. Greenberg as with all of Baumbach's films focuses on tragically broken lives. It can often be difficult to watch, but there is an honesty to his struggle, and the slightest amount of redemption thought his experience.