Material Combinatorium Supremum
J oshua Honigwach's site contains an amusing, concise argument purporting to bound below and above the number of atoms in the universe. It is an interesting read, but allow me to summarize: Honigwach bounds it below at 1078 and above with 1081.
If if if if if if if if if if if if if if if then (else as many) (end if as many).
Amusing all the same.
Let us ascribe to 1081 the term, today, anyway, of 'material combinatorium supremum'.
Thus, for the monstrous poet, there is also an upper bound to be attained in the exacerbation of poetry's suffering.
A text that is capable of transforming into 1081 different texts suffers a mind-bending combinatorium of textuality. It pushes poetry to the edge of the material universe's fundamental mass.
Could it mean anything?
What does it mean?????
How to make such a text?
A stir fry can do it. Stir Frys are capable of unusually high combinatorial complexity.
Incidentally, it feels like my inbox has been spammed with the full weight of 1081 some days both with scam and art spam. Poetry as spam not far off penis enlargement. O yes it suffers.
Stir frys are composed of x distinct texts, and each text is partitioned into y pieces. For those who like to count, you see from the stir frys (requires IE 4+ for the PC) that there are xy possible permutations of a stir fry, if the parts are distinct.
So it would take 10 texts, each of which was chopped into 81 parts. Or, since 81 parts do not tend to fit nicely on a page if you use phrases as the parts of the text, we could use 106 texts and 40 parts. This would fit nicely on a page but that's a lot of texts. If we used 50 parts, we'd need 42 texts. That sounds doable in an economical space in the browser, much like the other stir frys.
So there we would have on a single page a combinatorium like the mass of the material world.
Could it mean anything?
Ah, well, meaning does constellate in stir frys, as it is, according to the individual concerns and language of the 42 texts. And the ways they intermingle thematically, mainly.
How big would such a file be?
There are 50 parts to each text. Each part is a phrase. So, let's say, for guesstimate, max 40 characters per phrase. 50*40=2000 characters is the number of characters in one text. 2000*42=84,000 is the number of characters in the agglomeration of texts. So that makes the file itself about 100,000 characters, or, in other words, about 100kb in filesize.
Not too bad.
There is, of course, much silliness to such a project. It could end up so horrendously meaningless as to be an abomination unto the combinatorium supremum and an afront to all poetry in the universe. Massively insolent.
Then again, it could possibly be amusing. And a kind of thing in itself, regardless.
It would be very interesting to consider how meaningful it could be made to be. And this would hinge, practically speaking, on the language of the texts and the relations of the 42 texts to one another.
One of the things that it would certainly illustrate is that thought outstrips the number of atoms in the universe very quickly. The 'material combinatorium supremum', represented as a text, would certainly give an impression of great variety, and hopefully interest, also, but you would eventually get a sense that you had 'read it' and you would surely be right.
When we look back at the inter-medial combinatoria created, for instance, by Giordano Bruno, we see an artistic/religio-philosophical attempt to create worlds involved in astronomically large combinatoria. Yet the combinatoria play an important role in 'the art of memory' of which Bruno was fully aware, ie, the size of the combinatoria were meant to accomodate the size of human memory and some would say the mind itself, or God's creation, to others. In a sense the combinatoria were meant to allow organization of material into memorable patterns. In another sense, the resulting houses of the mind and world and spiritual realms were meant as cathedrals, of a sort.
On a different but not entirely unrelated note, Bruno was burned at the stake for his heliocentrism and "occult" heresies. Bruno was born five years after Copernicus died, and was executed in 1600.
The relation of his work to hypermedia has been duly noted in several books, including "A Prehistory of Cyberspace" by Darren Tofts. "The Art of Memory" by Frances A. Yates contains a classic treatment of Bruno's art and thought.
So constructing combinatoria to fit astronomical or more intimate spaces has some history, though it is an odd one.
By the by, there are 52!=52*51*50*...1 ways of shuffling a deck of cards, which is approximately 1068, which, as these things go, is more or less in the same league as 1078. I have seen in some movies and read in some books the idea of a universe or galaxy in a bauble or, as Blake puts it, 'infinity in a grain of sand, eternity in an hour.' When we play with a deck of cards, we shuffle possibilities 'not far' from the order of magnitude of the number atoms in the universe. We hold at least a galaxy of possibilities in our hand. Which of course is a little bit different from holding a galaxy in our hand, but the galaxies are probably safer where they are.
"The kingdom is a child playing at dice." Heraclitus
Apparently we're used to dealing intelligently with astronomically large combinatoria. I calculate that we take in somewhere between 360 and 480 mb/second in our visual, auditory, and tactile senses (combined). We probably don't examine almost all of it. but we do deal with it in some way.
PS: If you want to discover, after reading Joshua Honigwach's page who 109 is, etc, see the project of which that page is part. This is very interesting and is about big numbers, the universe, and everything.
Also, here is a page that's graphically useful in putting the orders of magnitude between 10-15 and 1023 in perspective.