Cool use of noise

People use my noise function everywhere. I’ve gotten used to it, and it’s definitely cool to see.

But every once in a while I am surprised by how it is used. Today, in a set of illustrations to accompany several opinion pieces in the New York Times, it was used by illustrator Sean Dong in a number of inventive ways.

But the one that jumped out at me was this visual for the piece about Capitalism. It was elegantly done, and it also reminded me a lot of some of the earliest things I did with noise back in the day.

His illustration is a morph between the Earth as a sphere, to the Earth as a superquadric, to the Earth as a sphere displaced by my noise function. Very simple, very weird, very effective, and very familiar (to me, at least).

I remember creating a very similar sequence in my early experiments with noise. I even eventually ended up printing some of those shapes on a 3D printer.

To the readers of the NY Times his illustration hopefully conveyed the ways that Capitalism can distort our perception of reality. To me it was pure (and delightful) nostalgia.

Widget Wednesdays #29

This week I am building on last week’s example of graph paper. Except now I am going to start to have things happen in the graph paper world.

In particular, I implemented a story of seven sisters. I chose seven because that seems like a good number for a fairy tale.

Each sister starts out close to home, and is free to wander away, but it still takes a long time before they all leave. Mathematically, each sister is each doing a random walk.

The weekly widget itself is here. Just like last week, you can click on the word at the bottom of the page to see and modify the computer program.

Hottest day ever

Just as the U.S. Senate gave up on meaningful plans to do anything about climate change, today became the hottest day in history in the U.K. It’s a clarion call if there ever was one, but it seems that important people are not listening.

Yet that is not even the most worrisome part. It’s not about what has happened so far, but rather about what happens next.

After all, records can be broken. And so can planets.

Into the marketplace

I am participating in a workshop at NYU which aims to help us take our research from the lab out into the actual marketplace. It is very enlightening.

When you do research, you generally try to imagine what the future will be like. You need to make guesses about how powerful, in perhaps another ten or fifteen years, computers will be, or networks, or graphics processors, or some other resource that currently exists only in the lab — if at all.

But when you think in terms of the marketplace, you need to think nearer to the present. There needs to be a value proposition for people in the near-term, not ten or fifteen years from now.

It’s a different way of thinking. In some ways it can be confining, but in other ways freeing. One thing I can say for sure is that I am enjoying the learning process.



Neonatal just born
Brionatal born enthusiastically
Rionatal a Carioca
Leonatal born between July 23 and August 22
Theonatal born again
Cryonatal IVF
Geonatal a new planet
Yeonatal born in an English river
Trionatal triplets
Dionatal Jesus

Shoeless Joe

Today, July 16, is the birthday of Shoeless Joe Jackson. Which I decided was a great occasion to rewatch Field of Dreams.

I haven’t seen it for so many years. And I was worried that it wouldn’t hold up.

But I wasn’t disappointed. It was even better than I had remembered. And it was like I had seen it yesterday.

Some movies, like some fine wines, don’t age with time. They just get better.


In 1978 Douglas Adams explained that “The Ultimate Answer to Life, The Universe and Everything is…42!” I have often pondered whether life, the universe and everything would some day give us greater insights about what he said.

Then today I saw the picture of the WNBA all-stars, every one of them wearing “42” shirts in the second half of their game. They were, of course supporting Brittney Griner.

BG’s “crime”, as I understand it, was to inadvertently bring a small amount of a doctor-prescribed medication to a country that doesn’t allow that medication. As a result, she may be facing many horrific years in a work camp.

I understand how this tells us something terrible about life. But how does it tie into “the universe and everything”?

Well, it seems that I live in a country which has now started to criminalize doctors simply for trying to save lives — even the lives of 10 year old children — essentially for the “crime” of being female.

So apparently this particular flavor of politico-fascism is not just an aspect of life over there. It seems to be starting to pervade the universe and everything.

Maybe Douglas Adams was onto something.

Showing code / editing code

Yesterday I posted a little computer program that allowed its reader to edit and change the code. I think this might fundamentally change the nature of the transaction.

For example, in yesterday’s code offering, you can simply change one number and suddenly the graph paper becomes an interesting perspective pattern. It recreates the illusion of a 3D scene without any actual 3D.

Instead of simply becoming something that I present to you, the programmable space becomes something for you to explore. It becomes your own learning nook, a kind of DIY classroom.

I wonder whether encouraging a systematic exposure of editable code could have a positive cultural impact. It might foster an general ethos of “If you can see this, then you can change it, and maybe make it better.” And that can’t be bad.

Widget Wednesdays #28

This week I’ve decided to go in a different direction with these weekly widgets. Instead of just showing you a computer graphics program, I’m going to let you edit the program for yourself and see how things change.

I’m starting this week with about the simplest example I can think of — plain graph paper. When you click on the link, you will just see a sheet of graph paper, in the traditional light blue color.

But then if you scroll all the way to the bottom, you will see that you can click on the name of the program — in this case graphpaper. When you do that, a code editor will come up.

You will then be able to see the source code (which this week is very simple), and you can change it to your heart’s content. If you get stuck, you can just reload the page.

You can check it out here.

Looking at the stars

There are so many problems here on Earth. Lately it seems that there are even more than usual — and that is a very high bar indeed.

But today the first images came back from the James Webb Space Telescope, and they are glorious. Absolutely glorious. Just looking at them fills me with awe and a thrilling sense of wonder.

Perhaps Oscar Wilde said it best: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”