1399: "Chaos"

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1399: "Chaos"

Postby skeptical scientist » Fri Jul 25, 2014 4:11 am UTC

Image
Although the oral exam for the doctorate was just 'can you do that weird laugh?'

Can you believe that movie is over 2 decades old?
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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby Envelope Generator » Fri Jul 25, 2014 5:22 am UTC

They escape by turning into birds and flying away.
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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby jalohones » Fri Jul 25, 2014 6:36 am UTC

skeptical scientist wrote:Can you believe that movie is over 2 decades old?


So am I.

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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby owneroperator » Fri Jul 25, 2014 6:45 am UTC

what weird laugh?

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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby Sir Lunch-a-lot » Fri Jul 25, 2014 7:18 am UTC

owneroperator wrote:what weird laugh?

This weird laugh.

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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby Wooloomooloo » Fri Jul 25, 2014 8:17 am UTC

This actually took some time to sink in before the lightbulb lit up. Anyway - if that thing is so old, how come we still don't have fancy 3D OSes?!? Totally unacceptable!

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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby Flumble » Fri Jul 25, 2014 8:44 am UTC

Wooloomooloo wrote:This actually took some time to sink in before the lightbulb lit up. Anyway - if that thing is so old, how come we still don't have fancy 3D OSes?!? Totally unacceptable!

Well, actually we're not far off. You can get a holographic display nowadays and making the OS "3D" is a matter of modifying your favourite display manager a bit. (yes, I'm talking linux; no way you can pull it off on windows)

If you want your programs to have 3D support, you'll have to wait a long time still... or start coding.

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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby Xenomortis » Fri Jul 25, 2014 8:56 am UTC

Wooloomooloo wrote: Anyway - if that thing is so old, how come we still don't have fancy 3D OSes?!? Totally unacceptable!

If it's so old, how come we haven't Velociraptors yet?
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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby JTL » Fri Jul 25, 2014 9:50 am UTC

Oh god... why did I search for a clip of that laugh?
I should have known the internet would have created a remix.

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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby AdzAdders » Fri Jul 25, 2014 10:06 am UTC

Flumble wrote:
Wooloomooloo wrote:This actually took some time to sink in before the lightbulb lit up. Anyway - if that thing is so old, how come we still don't have fancy 3D OSes?!? Totally unacceptable!

Well, actually we're not far off. You can get a holographic display nowadays and making the OS "3D" is a matter of modifying your favourite display manager a bit. (yes, I'm talking linux; no way you can pull it off on windows)

If you want your programs to have 3D support, you'll have to wait a long time still... or start coding.


Well, it was kind of based on a real thing at the time. Search Wikipedia for the FSN file manger ....

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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby orthogon » Fri Jul 25, 2014 10:08 am UTC

Flumble wrote:
Wooloomooloo wrote:This actually took some time to sink in before the lightbulb lit up. Anyway - if that thing is so old, how come we still don't have fancy 3D OSes?!? Totally unacceptable!

Well, actually we're not far off. You can get a holographic display nowadays and making the OS "3D" is a matter of modifying your favourite display manager a bit. (yes, I'm talking linux; no way you can pull it off on windows)

No need to worry about Windows: the only line I remember from the movie is "Great, it's a Unix system!" (They cut the scenes where she finally gets fed up of TAB completion not working and the default editor being set to ed and spends a couple of hours frobbing her .bashrc file to get the environment how she wants it. That, and trying to get the command-line syntax for tar right.)

Actually I wonder if that's where Apple got the idea of going to Unix-under-the-hood for OS-X.
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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby Steve the Pocket » Fri Jul 25, 2014 11:01 am UTC

I always thought that of all the ways screenwriters misunderstand science, interpreting "chaos theory" as literally "the theory that chaos will likely ensue" was one of the most painfully obvious. Like, did anyone, regardless of their background, hear that and not think "OK, no, that can't possibly be what it really means"?
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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby cellocgw » Fri Jul 25, 2014 11:20 am UTC

Hey, the oral exam could have been worse: he might have been asked about the temporal properties of thiotimoline.
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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby whatchafabio » Fri Jul 25, 2014 11:37 am UTC

Wooloomooloo wrote:This actually took some time to sink in before the lightbulb lit up. Anyway - if that thing is so old, how come we still don't have fancy 3D OSes?!? Totally unacceptable!


What you saw in the movie was an actual 3D file system navigator. IRIX OS by Silicon Graphics

Steve the Pocket wrote:I always thought that of all the ways screenwriters misunderstand science, interpreting "chaos theory" as literally "the theory that chaos will likely ensue" was one of the most painfully obvious. Like, did anyone, regardless of their background, hear that and not think "OK, no, that can't possibly be what it really means"?


The comic references the book, where the chaos theory thing was way more developed and prevalent (and full of BS :P )

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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby Dr. Gamera » Fri Jul 25, 2014 11:46 am UTC

Steve the Pocket wrote:I always thought that of all the ways screenwriters misunderstand science, interpreting "chaos theory" as literally "the theory that chaos will likely ensue" was one of the most painfully obvious. Like, did anyone, regardless of their background, hear that and not think "OK, no, that can't possibly be what it really means"?


If you've had the misfortune to read the original novel, you might have some sympathy for David Koepp, the screenwriter not named Michael Crichton. Every Michael Crichton novel seems to feature an arrogant mathematician who exposes the author's complete lack of understanding of mathematics, and Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park is no exception. The adaptation of the character in the movie tones down the arrogance a lot, as well as making the "chaos theory" nonsense slightly less risible.

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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby cellocgw » Fri Jul 25, 2014 12:53 pm UTC

Dr. Gamera wrote:
Steve the Pocket wrote:I always thought that of all the ways screenwriters misunderstand science, interpreting "chaos theory" as literally "the theory that chaos will likely ensue" was one of the most painfully obvious. Like, did anyone, regardless of their background, hear that and not think "OK, no, that can't possibly be what it really means"?


If you've had the misfortune to read the original novel, you might have some sympathy for David Koepp, the screenwriter not named Michael Crichton. Every Michael Crichton novel seems to feature an arrogant mathematician who exposes the author's complete lack of understanding of mathematics, and Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park is no exception. The adaptation of the character in the movie tones down the arrogance a lot, as well as making the "chaos theory" nonsense slightly less risible.


Examples, plz? The only two I remember are 1) the in bell-curve vs. triple bellcurve in dinosaur size as a function of birth date, and 2) the dimwit software jock who never tried to look for more dinosaurs than he thought there were. The mathematician was correct in both those cases.
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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby password » Fri Jul 25, 2014 1:20 pm UTC

I still don't get that nonsense about black shirts being cooler than white, and I've studied quantum physics.

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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby SpaceFrank » Fri Jul 25, 2014 1:44 pm UTC

password wrote:I still don't get that nonsense about black shirts being cooler than white, and I've studied quantum physics.

Well, as long as you're warmer than your surroundings, higher emissivity of the shirt should make it cooler, right? And since the types of people to wear all black typically only come out at night...

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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby richP » Fri Jul 25, 2014 1:50 pm UTC

Steve the Pocket wrote:I always thought that of all the ways screenwriters misunderstand science, interpreting "chaos theory" as literally "the theory that chaos will likely ensue" was one of the most painfully obvious. Like, did anyone, regardless of their background, hear that and not think "OK, no, that can't possibly be what it really means"?


They just confused chaos theory with Thermodynamics.

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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby ahammel » Fri Jul 25, 2014 2:19 pm UTC

Steve the Pocket wrote:I always thought that of all the ways screenwriters misunderstand science, interpreting "chaos theory" as literally "the theory that chaos will likely ensue" was one of the most painfully obvious. Like, did anyone, regardless of their background, hear that and not think "OK, no, that can't possibly be what it really means"?

It's even worse in the novel, IIRC. Not the screenwriters' fault this time.
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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby Dr. Gamera » Fri Jul 25, 2014 2:56 pm UTC

cellocgw wrote:
Dr. Gamera wrote:If you've had the misfortune to read the original novel, you might have some sympathy for David Koepp, the screenwriter not named Michael Crichton. Every Michael Crichton novel seems to feature an arrogant mathematician who exposes the author's complete lack of understanding of mathematics, and Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park is no exception. The adaptation of the character in the movie tones down the arrogance a lot, as well as making the "chaos theory" nonsense slightly less risible.


Examples, plz? The only two I remember are 1) the in bell-curve vs. triple bellcurve in dinosaur size as a function of birth date, and 2) the dimwit software jock who never tried to look for more dinosaurs than he thought there were. The mathematician was correct in both those cases.


You mean, examples other than the topic under discussion, the complete disconnect between chaos theory and "there has to be something wrong with your system"?

Tell you what. Whenever I have the opportunity to subject myself to the printed word of Michael Crichton again -- which is not going to be in the next few days, at least -- I will post a comprehensive review of Ian Malcolm's mathematical prowess.

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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby HES » Fri Jul 25, 2014 4:09 pm UTC

Dr. Gamera wrote:Jurassic Park

Thank you. I'm aware of Randall's interest (and previous references) but haven't seen the film recently enough to make the connection here. "That movie" isn't particularly helpful.
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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby orthogon » Fri Jul 25, 2014 4:14 pm UTC

HES wrote:
Dr. Gamera wrote:Jurassic Park

Thank you. I'm aware of Randall's interest (and previous references) but haven't seen the film recently enough to make the connection here. "That movie" isn't particularly helpful.

Yeah, he could have been talking about One of our Dinosaurs is Missing.
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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby rmsgrey » Fri Jul 25, 2014 4:52 pm UTC

cellocgw wrote:Hey, the oral exam could have been worse: he might have been asked about the temporal properties of thiotimoline.


Hey, it's totally legitimate to expect a doctoral candidate to be able to talk about his published papers.

And The Endochronic Properties of Resublimated Thiotimoline is a classic...

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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby Wlerin » Fri Jul 25, 2014 6:56 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:(That, and trying to get the command-line syntax for tar right.) .

Eh. If you're doing something simple, the syntax is simple (only trouble is the lack of the preceding hyphen that literally every other program uses). And, while I can't find any documentation for this, several versions of tar I've used recently accept the z option for any compression format, determining which compress/extract program to use based on file extension.

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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby schapel » Sat Jul 26, 2014 12:01 am UTC

orthogon wrote:Actually I wonder if that's where Apple got the idea of going to Unix-under-the-hood for OS-X.

By that time, hadn't Steve Jobs started NeXT and used a Mach kernel for the OS? Then when Apple purchased NeXT, they also used the Mach kernel for OS X and canceled the Copland project. I think also Objective C came from NeXT, and NeXT's Interface Builder became Xcode. It's funny that even after Steve was booted from Apple, he still was developing the core technologies that would be used by Apple for decades to come!

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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby ilduri » Sat Jul 26, 2014 2:25 am UTC

One thing I remember from the book is how the dragon curve fractal is used as a metaphor for chaos. I don't know much about math, but I'm pretty sure a perfectly predictable repeating pattern is not chaotic.

EDIT: And now I just clicked back over to the comic and noticed there's a dragon curve drawn on the board. :D

Also...
JTL wrote:I should have known the internet would have created a remix.

The best thing the internet has ever done with Jurassic Park clips is, undoubtedly, this. :)
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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby Anonymous37 » Sat Jul 26, 2014 4:35 pm UTC

I remember hanging out with some graduate students back in the 1990s, and we were discussing Jurassic Park (the novel). The two molecular biology grad students were ranting about how the central premise of the book -- that you could get dinosaurs in the 20th century by taking DNA fragments trapped in amber and splicing them with modern amphibian DNA -- was the dumbest thing about the book. A physics graduate student said, sure, that's dumb, but that's a necessary dumbness. What was completely unacceptable, he argued, was Crichton's shoehorning of chaos theory into the novel; it was dumb and unnecessary. The mol bio grad students said, no, you don't understand: the central premise is really, really dumb. Both sides were somehow at odds with each other and still correct.

Man, I miss graduate school. Well, not really, but I miss moments like that.

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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby Pfhorrest » Sat Jul 26, 2014 8:17 pm UTC

schapel wrote:
orthogon wrote:Actually I wonder if that's where Apple got the idea of going to Unix-under-the-hood for OS-X.

By that time, hadn't Steve Jobs started NeXT and used a Mach kernel for the OS? Then when Apple purchased NeXT, they also used the Mach kernel for OS X and canceled the Copland project. I think also Objective C came from NeXT, and NeXT's Interface Builder became Xcode. It's funny that even after Steve was booted from Apple, he still was developing the core technologies that would be used by Apple for decades to come!

Close, but a few nitpicks: NeXTSTEP wasn't unix because of the Mach kernel (in fact IIRC it didn't originally use a Mach kernel, that came later), but because it was built on top of BSD unix, which OSX still is. Apple didn't so much just "use the Mach kernel for OSX", rather they used all of NeXTSTEP wholesale, updated parts of it, added new parts, to become OSX. And Copland was cancelled before the NeXT acquisition; NeXT was bought when Apple decided they couldn't build a "next-generation" OS in-house after Copland's failure, and went looking to just buy one to base the new MacOS off of. (Other candidates besides NeXTSTEP included BeOS and even Windows NT!).

You are correct that Objective C came from NeXT, and the InterfaceBuilder/ProjectBuilder became Xcode.
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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby xtifr » Sat Jul 26, 2014 8:35 pm UTC

schapel wrote:
orthogon wrote:Actually I wonder if that's where Apple got the idea of going to Unix-under-the-hood for OS-X.

By that time, hadn't Steve Jobs started NeXT and used a Mach kernel for the OS? Then when Apple purchased NeXT, they also used the Mach kernel for OS X and canceled the Copland project. I think also Objective C came from NeXT, and NeXT's Interface Builder became Xcode. It's funny that even after Steve was booted from Apple, he still was developing the core technologies that would be used by Apple for decades to come!

I'm not sure I'd refer to anything Jobs did as "developing". He selected, funded, and promoted technologies, but I'm not aware of him doing any actual development, ever.

Of course, I'm team Woz, so I may be biased! :D
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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby schapel » Sat Jul 26, 2014 9:03 pm UTC

xtifr wrote:I'm not sure I'd refer to anything Jobs did as "developing". He selected, funded, and promoted technologies, but I'm not aware of him doing any actual development, ever.

I didn't mean software development. He helped to bring it about, in the same sense that Al Gore helped bring about the infrastructure of the Internet. They didn't create the actual technology, no.

The other funny thing is that I remember talking to someone about how Jobs was doing with NeXT, and I remarked that he had had great success with the Apple II and with the Mac, and that I thought his latest company stood a good chance with making the next great thing. Looking back, it wasn't the Apple I that made it big, but the Apple II. It wasn't the Lisa, but the Mac. And it wasn't NeXT, but it was OS X.

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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby StClair » Sun Jul 27, 2014 8:32 am UTC

Anonymous37 wrote:I remember hanging out with some graduate students back in the 1990s, and we were discussing Jurassic Park (the novel). The two molecular biology grad students were ranting about how the central premise of the book -- that you could get dinosaurs in the 20th century by taking DNA fragments trapped in amber and splicing them with modern amphibian DNA -- was the dumbest thing about the book. A physics graduate student said, sure, that's dumb, but that's a necessary dumbness. What was completely unacceptable, he argued, was Crichton's shoehorning of chaos theory into the novel; it was dumb and unnecessary. The mol bio grad students said, no, you don't understand: the central premise is really, really dumb. Both sides were somehow at odds with each other and still correct.

Man, I miss graduate school. Well, not really, but I miss moments like that.


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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby rmsgrey » Sun Jul 27, 2014 5:55 pm UTC

StClair wrote:
Anonymous37 wrote:I remember hanging out with some graduate students back in the 1990s, and we were discussing Jurassic Park (the novel). The two molecular biology grad students were ranting about how the central premise of the book -- that you could get dinosaurs in the 20th century by taking DNA fragments trapped in amber and splicing them with modern amphibian DNA -- was the dumbest thing about the book. A physics graduate student said, sure, that's dumb, but that's a necessary dumbness. What was completely unacceptable, he argued, was Crichton's shoehorning of chaos theory into the novel; it was dumb and unnecessary. The mol bio grad students said, no, you don't understand: the central premise is really, really dumb. Both sides were somehow at odds with each other and still correct.

Man, I miss graduate school. Well, not really, but I miss moments like that.


"No, the offense against my field is greater!"


I agree with the physics student's argument - the book had to have some explanation of dinosaurs appearing, so at least the frog-clones serve a purpose. You don't need anything to explain that sometimes things go wrong and zoo animals escape, so the "explanation" involving chaos theory really shouldn't have been there even if it were correct in the first place. I've not read the book, so I can't comment on how dumb each explanation is in context, but as an offense against good science fiction, explaining something that didn't need explaining and getting the explanation wrong is worse.

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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby sotanaht » Mon Jul 28, 2014 12:18 am UTC

Steve the Pocket wrote:I always thought that of all the ways screenwriters misunderstand science, interpreting "chaos theory" as literally "the theory that chaos will likely ensue" was one of the most painfully obvious. Like, did anyone, regardless of their background, hear that and not think "OK, no, that can't possibly be what it really means"?


That's not really all that far off the mark though. Judging from wikipedia, chaos theory is just the study of deterministic systems with unpredictable behavior, so using it to say "shit's gonna happen and we don't know how" isn't really inaccurate, just unnecessary.

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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby rmsgrey » Mon Jul 28, 2014 1:07 am UTC

sotanaht wrote:
Steve the Pocket wrote:I always thought that of all the ways screenwriters misunderstand science, interpreting "chaos theory" as literally "the theory that chaos will likely ensue" was one of the most painfully obvious. Like, did anyone, regardless of their background, hear that and not think "OK, no, that can't possibly be what it really means"?


That's not really all that far off the mark though. Judging from wikipedia, chaos theory is just the study of deterministic systems with unpredictable behavior, so using it to say "shit's gonna happen and we don't know how" isn't really inaccurate.


Well, it's a little more than that. It's deterministic systems where, no matter how precise your initial measurements are, there's a time beyond which every outcome reachable from any starting setup is possible to reach (as closely as you can measure) by starting with the right setup which is indistinguishable from your initial measurements.

In other words, it's the idea that measuring the atmosphere today isn't going to tell you anything about what the weather will be like a year from today that you didn't already know without any measurements of the current situation (it also works in reverse - you can't use today's weather data to figure out what the weather was a year ago).

It doesn't tell you anything about what those possible outcomes are - just that you can't tell in advance which one you're going to get.

For example, if you consider a roulette wheel as a chaotic system (until it slows down), chaos theory tells you that you can't predict which number the ball will land on until the wheel slows down enough. It says nothing about whether the ball might land on purple-42 or on green-00 - the probabilities of those outcomes (0 and 1/38 respectively) are determined by the system - all chaos theory tells you is that, so long as the system is still going to be in a chaotic state beyond the prediction threshold of your measurement ability, your measurements can't tell you anything you didn't already know about the outcome.


Chaos theory says that, if the dinosaurs have a 10% chance of escaping on any given day in general, and the system is chaotic, then no matter how careful you are in setting up your security measures today, after enough time has passed, the dinosaurs will again have a 10% chance of escaping on any given day - unless you intervene frequently enough to keep them from escaping - in which case they won't ever have a chance to escape.

Chaos theory doesn't tell you whether the dinosaurs have a chance of escaping or whether the system actually is chaotic.


Essentially, what chaos theory actually says about Jurassic Park is that if it's possible that the dinosaurs will escape, it's possible that the dinosaurs will escape.

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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby mathmannix » Mon Jul 28, 2014 1:35 pm UTC

Man, Jurassic Park sure is a great book/movie. Still holds up quite well after 20+ years. Basically, all I know about paleontology, genetic engineering, and chaos theory come from them. Also the major reason I never outgrew my typical-boyhood fascination with dinosaurs. And Dr. Ian Malcolm is a large part of why I became a mathematician. True story.
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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Jul 28, 2014 1:40 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:Basically, all I know about paleontology, genetic engineering, and chaos theory come from them.

So you know next to nothing about paleontology, genetic engineering, or chaos theory?

It's what first got me interested in chaos and fractals, but everything I know about them came from real sources later.
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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby mathmannix » Mon Jul 28, 2014 1:52 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
mathmannix wrote:Basically, all I know about paleontology, genetic engineering, and chaos theory come from them.

So you know next to nothing about paleontology, genetic engineering, or chaos theory?

It's what first got me interested in chaos and fractals, but everything I know about them came from real sources later.


Well, yeah, I don't know much about those fields, as I have never studied them. Crichton's work is what first got me interested in them as well, but I chose to study other things. And the simplistic way that chaos is presented is something my brain can understand, a sort of Reader's Digest version of science. Something I can remember, and something that I still think is neat, without getting bogged down in the details of how it actually works. It's enough for me, and it's still enjoyable.

Also, I like science to a certain degree, but between my faith in God and my childlike enthusiasm to believe in other non-scientific things (like that the Loch Ness Monster exists and is one of the few living Plesiosaurs, or that unicorns definitely existed, though they were likely hunted to extinction) ... well, I have pretty much forbidden myself from visiting and posting on the science thread! Whenever it occurs to me that Jurassic Park might not ever come true, that I might never ride a (non-bird) dinosaur... that makes me sad, so I stop thinking about it. My coworkers tell me that I don't live in the real world, but I think my world is better.

(EDIT: Not that riding a bird is that likely for me to do in my lifetime, either.)
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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby xtifr » Mon Jul 28, 2014 10:04 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:And the simplistic way that chaos is presented is something my brain can understand, a sort of Reader's Digest version of science.

I don't think Readers Digest has ever gotten any science as wrong as Crichton got Chaos Theory.

Also, I like science to a certain degree, but between my faith in God and my childlike enthusiasm to believe in other non-scientific things (like that the Loch Ness Monster exists and is one of the few living Plesiosaurs, or that unicorns definitely existed, though they were likely hunted to extinction) ...


Oh. Well, I guess Crichton didn't get Chaos Theory quite that wrong, so carry on! :)
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Re: 1399: "Chaos"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jul 29, 2014 12:48 am UTC

The thing about scientists and other scientifically minded people is that we are perfectly capable of living in the real world while fantasizing in alternate imaginary worlds. That way we still get the entertainment value of creative worldbuiding without any of the dangers of actually believing in all that made-up shit.
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