Now I’m Sad

I was expecting much more evil.

This site is certified 23% EVIL by the Gematriculator

This site is certified 77% GOOD by the Gematriculator

For those with historical leanings, gematria is a Hebrew word which was originally a corruption of the Greek geometria (“earth measure”), and refers to the practice of assigning numerical values to words based on their component letters’ position in the Hebrew alphabet.


You know, like in the movie Pi.

Incidentally, this movie has a special relevance for me. I did my undergraduate thesis on electron motion in weakly ionized gases (the situation one finds in Geiger counters and various other particle-detection devices), poking into the relationship between small-scale properties like the scattering cross sections of individual atoms and large-scale, gross behaviors like the speed of charge propagation through the gas. The latter can be measured in the laboratory, and we’d like to extract the former; one of the ways I looked into doing this was with a genetic algorithm. (Specifically, I built my code on top of the PIKAIA software.)

Working with the GA software involved a great deal of numbers flashing onto the screen and scrolling past, as the virtual atoms bred and mutated within the computer’s memory. I got pretty good at telling whether the GA was working, just by watching the green-on-black numbers whizzing by.

One evening, my colleague Eric and I went to a little party at a friend’s place. Not able to leave work alone for very long, I soon gravitated to their television, which (these were MIT people) they had wired up to a computer. I found the keyboard under its cruft pile, established an SSH connection to the lab computer, and shoveling cheese into my mouth with one hand, checked the progress of my GA. Ceaseless columns of green-on-black numbers flashed past. My eyes moved over them, taking the data in. . . and Eric was tapping on my shoulder.

I turned and watched him mime holding a drill to his head.

“Vvvvvvvv,” he said.

(Tip o’ the, er, yarmulke to Russell Blackford.)

7 thoughts on “Now I’m Sad”

  1. See, the first thing I would have thought of was The Matrix, but I guess that reference is out of fashion since it was discovered that the first was basically a fluke.

  2. There’s an output mode for mplayer which turns the video you play into ASCII art. In fact, you can use either AAlib or, for color “graphics,” libcaca.

    One of my most intensely meta-geeky moments of the past several months was watching The Matrix as animated ASCII art.

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