Monday, March 06, 2006

Outlines, the Oscars and the Universe as a Computer

You may or may have noticed that I've been quiet the past couple of days. Well, perhaps suffice it to say that in the drawer of the desk I'm using now there are two books: Holy Bible Placed by THE GIDEONS and The Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
So if you cannot imagine where I am I shall think you a simpleton.

Outlines - I don't know how many times I've discussed this and yet I never tire of the subject. Crawford Kilian of Writing Fiction wrote an interesting post about the matter worth checking out: Writing Without an Outline.

I didn't watch the Academy Awards last night--I never do--but I was happy about George Clooney winning for Syriana.
In my opinion, and without getting into politics, Syriana was a unique movie about a difficult subject(s) - energy, the Islamic and Arab world and the Western world. The movie, more than making a political statement, is trying to show the complexities of the issues and that's its brilliance in my opinion. It doesn't show black and white or take sides. There are very few things in the world that are clear, the rest are complicated matters with the infamous various shades of grey. Good books, like good movies and like anything else in life show these complexities. A villain is rarely all bad and a hero is rarely all good. Dimensions and complexities.

Finally, a book. I haven't read it - yet - but I hope to soon.
"Decoding the Universe: How the New Science of Information Is Explaining Everything in the Cosmos From Our Brains to Black Holes" By Charles Seife
From Salon:
Secrets of the cosmos By Laura Miller
Could the universe be a giant computer? A new book argues just that, and unlocks some great scientific mysteries along the way.

The universe might just be an enormous computer -- that's the final, mind-twisting pirouette at the conclusion of Charles Seife's new book about information theory and quantum computing, "Decoding the Universe: How the New Science of Information Is Explaining Everything in the Cosmos, From Our Brains to Black Holes." By the time you get to this suggestion, the statement seems pretty plausible, but by then you've already traveled through Seife's crystal-clear explications of thermodynamics, relativity, quantum mechanics, black holes and multiple universes. In other words, you know he's not talking about using the cosmos to search the Web during your lunch break for the best price on iPods.


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7 comments:

Pat Kirby said...

My guess would be Utah.

The book sounds interesting. Adding to enormous TBR list

Jonathan M. Dobson said...

I just attented a talk via the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics about five-dimensional space and how to think of it. Was really great. By Lisa Randall, the gal who wrote Warped Passages. I'd like to read Decoding the Universe, as it should mesh well.

The next two free talks at the Institute are "The Music of Science, the Science of Music", and "Programming the Universe", which sounds like it may be in line with Decoding.

One may check it all out at the Perimeter Institute.

Melly said...

Pat, you're far too clever for me. I'm laughing 'cause all I meant was that I was in a hotel and you took one step further... I thought the hint were the bibles in the drawer (or maybe some people do have bibles in their drawers?). Anyways, I was still in Ontario. Too smart! I bet you get that a lot :)

[Now I'm trying to figure out what the Mormon bible did there...]


Jonathan, wow, thanks for that. I'll definitely check it out.

FredCQ said...

I find that I have little use for outlines. I only do them when I have a jumble of thoughts about how to proceed with my story. Sometimes it helps me just to list a sequence of events. I have tried outlining my whole novel but I never stick with it. I just need to know what the end is and work toward that. An outline would be too confining for me.

redchurch said...

Outlines: I love them, but everybody already knows I'm a structure nazi. I like Crof's analogy about learning to drive. I think the analogy works better as a map. A lot of writers prefer to just drive and wherever they end up, is where they end up. That's not good enough for me. I don't like just being 'somewhere' or 'anywhere' - I usually want to arrive at a specific place, at a specific time. So I use maps and a travel itinerary. :)

Re: Universe as a computer: I've believed this for many years. I think everything in the universe can be boiled down to information. DNA, RNA, physics, elements, energy, light, probabilities. It's all just information of one kind or another.

Also, as a game developer I've gotten interesting perspective on this. In the past, we used to 'fudge' things to try and mimick reality. Hacks, perspective tricks, finding ways to seem like the real thing without actually being real. As the game industry and technology evolve, it's getting easier to just perform the real thing (dead body ragdoll physics) than it is to fake it (canned death animations).

Slowly, bit by bit, we're building virtual realities that replicate some of the universe. Someday, we'll be generating entire universes and galaxies for people to explore.

Which begs the question, how is that different from the real thing? Maybe it's all just a simulation?

Fun thoughts.

Deborah said...

My guess would have been Utah, as well. Those Mormon's sure like to spread their word.

As for outlining, I've tried but have never been able to stick to what I've written. Once I get an idea, my mind starts chasing after it.

Melly said...

"I just need to know what the end is and work toward that."
Fred, that's a good motto which I've heard from quite a few writers and I try to stick by it myself (although my ending sometimes changes).

Whoa Eric "the structure Nazi" - yes, we all knew that :)
Your comments are always so full and informative they should be their own posts and it's so great they're here :)
I know, doesn't that idea just make sense though?

Deborah, you too are too clever. You two make me feel stupido ;)
Yes, I'm a bit like you as far as outlines go, only sometimes I chase and chase and get nowhere and I have to be careful of that.