Monday, January 18, 2010

Seminar Walkthrough

I've never been much into video games. While I am stunned by the high quality of today's virtual worlds I tend to lose interest in human-created puzzles quickly. On the rare occasions I've played one or the other game (TombRaider, Half-Life) I shamelessly used walkthroughs. Why spend 2 hours opening all the graves when some teenager in Mississippi knows which contains the mummy? In addition, when I'm traveling, I sometimes feel like my days are a bizarre piece of software with unclear purpose. The walkthrough would go something like this:

Doubleclick the basket next to the coffee machine. Inspect the items it contains by hovering over each. One of them is labeled Coffee Dreamer. Put it into your inventory. Leave the hotel and take the bus to Euston Station. Find the ticket machine in the far left corner. Punch in your code and obtain an orange-colored card. Take the escalator right behind you and wait for the blue line Southbound, exit at Victoria Station.

At Victoria Station you have to find platform 23. A security officer will appear and tell you there is no platform 23. To your left you will see a Burger King and next to it two restroom doors. Enter the restroom for the gender that is not your character's. Use the orange card to open the inner door and walk right through the mirror. It will bring you to platform 23. Enter the blueish gleaming train standing there.

On the train you will meet a group of teenagers costumed as cats. Offer them the Coffee Dreamer. In exchange you will get a magic mushroom. Exit the train at Brighton. In front of the station, wait for bus 8 and get off at the Pier. This is not where you need to go, but it will save you a detour. Walk down the seashore to an old railway station. Above it you will see some words written on the wall. This is your code for the University, so write them down. They are different every time. In my case they read "I have great desire - My desire is great."
Continue down the seashore until you see a "Hotel" sign and ask for a room. The receptionist will show you a list with available rooms. Chose the one marked as emergency exit. Rest for some hours. On the next morning, make a safety backup. Take off your chainmail, you will not need it today, but make sure to wear running shoes. Take the bus number 8 again (this doesn't make sense) it will bring you to the university. Enter the grey building across the street. Take the elevator to the uppermost floor. When you step out of the elevator, go down three doors to the right and knock. This is your contact person. No matter what he says, reply with the keywords you found at the pier. He will then give you the number to the secretary's room (a different number every time).

Go down the corridor till you find the right room. Give the secretary your Bank information, then continue down the corridor to the seminar room (a blue double-winged door). Time now to pop the smart-pill you found in the mummy's grave. Open your inventory, double click the pill and confirm. You should make it through the seminar safely. If not, reload your morning backup and try again. Upon completion of the seminar you will gain 4 skill points.

Head back to the hotel (bus number 8 again) and enter your room. Rest some hours to recharge energy, but not more than 3 because the hotel will start burning during the night. Once the fire alarm goes off, open the window and climb up the latter to the roof. Above you there is a helicopter waiting...

42 comments:

Jérôme CHAUVET said...

Bee: I am of the video games generation, I know the problem quite perfectly. In the past, I had an Amiga (some ancient hardware of the 80's/90's); that sort of computer your parents offered to you in order to help you keep up with progress, but which you exclusively played with all the time. BLAM! BLAM!... I however learned to program in Basic language with it, so nobody will be allowed to say it was definitely useless to have one.

I agree with you about one point: as soon as you are plunged into the working life, you no longer need to look for obstacles anywhere else, may they be virtual or whatever. To me, video games are the perfect education for researchers. Let you imagine those end-of-level big bosses in place of the big journals you'd like to publish your paper in. You send your manuscipts like you fire at them until they accept/surrender. BLAM! BLAM!... Your brand-new theory is your best weapon, the seminar room where you present it your arena. If you can persuade some with it, BLAM!, then you're given life points, i.e., impact factor. When you are granted "tenure", then you can reach "next level". And when you snatch the Nobel Prize (you'll need to jump very high) then you get the "super bonus", which gives you the powerfullest research weapon ever : from now on, everything you think and say is to anybody trivially true. BLAM!

Isn't this a fine analogy about how to succeed in science? I do not myself really know if it is, but I kind of treated the subject anyway, which makes it not so bad in the end.

Best,

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

Well it seems we have the same distain for video games for similar reasons, as what relaxation can be found in something that simulates what one is trying to escape for a while. Interstingly enough this is one of the reasons I enjoy this blog as except for the bickering and petty rivalries sometimes appearing in the comments this blog seldom has any resemblance to the rest of my existence. One thing though you have to admit is that the place you currently find yourself at times can present as unfamiliar even though the outcomes be the same.

Best,

Phil

Steven Colyer said...

@ Jérôme - That was a very nice analogy yourself. There are of course, various types of video games, as I will elucidate in a bit.

@ Phil - There are different types of video games, and I imagine the type you dislike are the "shoot-em-ups" like Grand Theft Auto and Halo, etc., all of which are variations on the original Doom and Quake games. I share this feeling if so.

There are however truly interesting ones, such as the Real-time Strategy games, such as Advance Wars and Galactic Civilizations. There is little to no time pressure, one is forced to THINK rather than react, and the logic is superb.

Granted, both types are Win-Lose or Zero-Sum Games, thanks to John von Neumann and his wonderful Game Theory.

I don't feel either appeals to the female brain, unless she is a highly competitive person, which is fine in the highly competitive world of Politics (e.g., Academia, Government).

In the Business World, the non-Zero Sum type (thanks again to J.vN.), that is to say Win-Win, works best (unless you're trying to crush a competitor ... there's plenty of that in Business as well ... but I'm addressing GOOD businesspersons ... for whom competitors are crushed when the product they make is simply better ... witness Porshe Volkwagon leaping past Toyota as the world's number one carmaker).

There are such Win-Win video games, indeed many have been developed and target-marketed to girls. Can't think of any at the moment though.

Jérôme CHAUVET said...

@Steven :

That was a very nice analogy yourself.


I do not actually myself know what this myself was doing here itself... It's plenty of style anyway.

Giotis said...

This game of life you can never win.

Steven Colyer said...

Giotis wrote: This game of life you can never win.

Nice one, Giotis. Here I was all kinds of happy that Johannes Koelman MAY have broken Dark Energy today, and you remind me of Death, our eventual demise. Umm, OK.

<segue into this article's topic: DEATH DOES seem to be a recurring feature in video games, eh? Why is that?)

I prefer to take the view of the famous author from the land Bee finds herself currently in, J.R.R. Tolkien.

In his Middle Earth-verse, Mankind envies Tolkien's Elves for their Immortality; the Elves however envy Mankind FOR our mortality ... the fact that with a limited lifespan we are well aware of, we MUST get things done before our inevitable demise.

Jérôme CHAUVET said...

@Steven : What the HELL! Do you really mean that, if we were immortal, then nothing would be done on Earth because of some lack of dead line?... On the contrary of this, I can easily imagine that immortal human beings would build and create stuffs just for the beauty of it, or for the entertainment it would provide.

Being immortal certainly means rapidly getting bored, and there is the reason why your argument does not hold :)(I already long for your backreaction to this one, Steve!)

Best,

Arun said...

Some of the most popular video games are where you play against other humans. Rather different from playing solo - against the computer/game designer.

Steven Colyer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven Colyer said...

I can relate to the Elves. They're not unkillable, they can die. Hence their love for battle. ;-p

Even if a "magic pill" were invented tomorrow that would make us immortal, the law of averages is we would suffer a fatality every 450 years (one is sufficient). Ask anyone at your local Insurance Company Actuarial department (where Mathematics PhD.'s go to die), they have the data. :-)

Conclusion: Immortality is a pipe dream. Assuming a way could be found to eliminate the free radicals (ions, basically) in our bloodstreams that cause us to age (broccoli, carrots, pickle juice and olive juice work for me), we're still doomed, as cosmic rays are inescapable, and our pancreas would produce them should some cosmic ray shielding be found.

So we're all doomed. Have a nice day, and get to work. ;-P

Steven Colyer said...

Also, Tolkien's elves DID get rapidly bored, and did create great beauty. So there's your fictional proof on that one, Jérôme.

Hav' ye not read The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, laddie?

"Truth is stranger than fiction ... fiction has to make sense."
... Leo Rosten

Also, we have enough people on Earth. Immortality would lead to resource exploitation even faster. "The old leaves die so the new ones can emerge." Read "The Fall of Freddie the Leaf" for more on that.

Cheers!

S.Colyer

Andrew Thomas said...

Hi Steven: "Even if a "magic pill" were invented tomorrow that would make us immortal, the law of averages is we would suffer a fatality every 450 years (one is sufficient)."

That is such an interesting statistic!

But it's perhaps rather a dodgy statistic because if anyone achieved immortality via a magic pill I think they would then be extremely careful crossing the road! I think it would affect their behaviour so they would be extremely careful to avoid any remotely dangerous situation.

The other thing is: what happens if they choke on the pill? That would be a blow.

Steven Colyer said...

Andrew, think of 450 years as a "half-life." But even if so, 900 years still ends in Death (thanks, Giotis ;-) )

Issac Asimov wrote a great novel about the rest of your post, it is "Solaria." In the distant future, rich people SO afraid of Death set up and live on a planet by the same name. There are only 300 residents on the planet, spread far apart geographically. A murder happens (?!), and that is the plot of the novel. I, Robot weighs in.

In current times, right around when England (current name: UK) celebrates the 1,000th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, newborns will then, thanks to modern medicine, should very much expect to live to 150-200 years.

Future puppies.

Good for them, JUST too late for us. Ah, well. So be it. Nothing we can do about that.

I say therefore, for US not THEM with our too-short limited lifespans ... time to get cracking. In that regard .....

Tell us, Bee, when should we expect you next installment of Causal Diagrams, and will it complete your wonderful series, or be the 3rd of 4 or something, hmmm?

Andrew Thomas said...

Off-topic (sorry) there's a fairly amazing dark energy result quoted on Steven's blog.

Bee said...

Giotis: That's indeed about the state of mind traveling seems to put me in quite often. Best,

B.

Steven Colyer said...

Yes well, Bee, you and Giotis not the first to comment about how being a traveler and feeling like you're dead (a superposition of states!) have much in common. But you're young and LIVING a LIFE, and that is the price one pays. Sorry. My question re your wonderful Causal Diagrams bit is still in play btw ... busy bee ...

Andrew, agreed on how fast a new idea can be exploited (Koelman re Verlinde). The Internet, it be a changin' everythin'! < Mark Twain speech a'fyin' lol

Also Andrew, I give you great credit at my blog (end of the Time/Gravity article) re an MJ video. Wish I could embed it, advise how, thanks and cheers.

Bee said...

Steven: What question? I wasn't saying traveling is like being dead I was saying it makes me ponder the meaning of life. Best,

B.

Steven Colyer said...

The QUESTION Bee is when should we expect your next installment of Causal Diagrams, which we all adore and think quite wonderful, and will it be the last, or the next in a series, and if so, when will THAT end?

And yes, "traveling" is very much LIKE Death. I speak of Airports, not Flying, and by that I mean "waiting."

I felt this way beFORE 01-9-11, you can only imagine what I feel about them now.

Better you than me. ;-p

Andrew Thomas said...

Steven: "The QUESTION Bee is when should we expect your next installment of Causal Diagrams"

It's all there in Bee & Lee's very readable and interesting paper.

Jérôme CHAUVET said...

About this e-print: With 111 outcomes in the arXiv.org data base, Lee Smolin was not given the privilege to endorse e-prints !... Oh, how unlucky is this... (no thoughtful remark about arXiv's submission policy, was only small-talk I was doing here, I swear)

Best,

Denis said...

Bee : does one need to be a physicist (with or without causal diagrams) in order to be alive at all ?

stefan said...

Being in a new environment often gives me this "video game" feeling...

Let's hope you won't need the helicopter.

Cheers, Stefan

Bee said...

Steven: Sorry, I didn't have time to read the comments yesterday. The continuation of the causal diagrams intro - not this week and my weekend is fully booked too. Maybe next week. As Andrew says, most of what I have to say is in my paper with Lee. Except the more general explanations about information loss that we assumed the readers know. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Denis: Depends on what you mean with "alive," but in my rather limited experience I would say no. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Jerome: I'm not sure what you're saying? Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Steven,

What I find most ungratifying about any type of video game is actually who it has me pit myself against, which in this case is the game itself in comparison to how others might fare with actually nothing of consequence to be discovered at all. I don’t find this much fun since the root of it is to find myself somehow better or lesser than others dependant on my success, failure or degree thereof. That’s exactly how Feynman felt about honours and why he detested the whole concept, as them just another way to express bigotry which he saw as a human failing and not as a attribute. I guess that’s why I like physics and philosophy, since it pits me against nothing other than nature, for which I have no delusions of which is the better, in knowing I’m simply and gratefully one of its products, as are all things it contains.

Best,

Phil

Andrew Thomas said...

Bee's description is more like one of those old adventure games, collecting objects into an inventory and performing tasks. Most video games nowadays just involve running around and shooting people. I'm not interested in that at all, and some of them are far too violent.

Yeah, Phil, I feel these games are just a waste of time. We've only got a limited amount of years on this planet - why seek ways to waste that time, rather than producing something worthwhile? I think World of Warcraft is the saddest game. People just log into that for hours at a time, and they lose track of real life. It sounds like a horrible existence.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Andrew,

Actually there was one video game of interest for a while, with that being Tetris, which I feel should be one of the few that might be of use in terms of conceptual learning and discovery.

Best,

Phil

Steven Colyer said...

Thank you, Bee, and Andrew. Yup I now remember reading that paper when you first started the discussion. I especially remember understanding only 20% of it and feeling like an ignoramus thereby. Months passed, I just read it again, and my knowledge quotient has increased such that I understand 60%! Good stuff, and take your time I say. First things first like a little conference you're planning on hosting this summer. ;-)

Btw, will there be video feeds of your talk that you'll post here? Looking forward to that if so.

Feynman, as we both know, totally rocks, Phil. I still smile when I think of his "By golly that's a wonderful problem because it doesn't look so easy." And props Phil on taking on nothing less that Nature herself. Why think small? :-)

One good use of World of Warcraft, Andrew, is it keeps the Chinese busy. They're gonzo for that game. Not that we have to worry about World Domination from them (other than economic), although they're perfectly poised if some madman takes over. Also why take over politically when you're winning economically? I'm sure India will have something to say about that.

Cheers and fare well in Jolly Olde England, bee. They're fantastic landscapers, yes?

Bee said...

Hi Phil,

Some video games have undoubtedly artistic value. Some of the virtual landscapes that have been designed are simply amazing, and I love if attention has been payed to details. To me this has been the greatest attraction of these games. Unfortunately though, they are typically very violent (unless possibly SimCity), and since I'm visually very receptive it's something I prefer to avoid for the sake of my nightrest. Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

Some of the virtual landscapes that have been designed are simply amazing, and I love if attention has been payed to details. To me this has been the greatest attraction of these games. Unfortunately though, they are typically very violent (unless possibly SimCity), and since I'm visually very receptive it's something I prefer to avoid for the sake of my nightrest.

Well strange as it may sound the cure for what forms to be your problem may also be a video game, being the one I mentioned earlier. That it has been recently reported in a study conducted that the playing of Tetris for a half hour after being subjected to disturbing images may serve to have them to be erased. So not only can this game improve one’s ability to make critical decisions and thicken your cerebral cortex, it may also be able to keep away the boggyman. So perhaps along with the exercise equipment found in some modern research facilities a table top Tetris game should be installed to address the fitness of its facility above the neck:-)

Best,

Phil

Jérôme CHAUVET said...

Bee (about arXiv's endorsement policy): If you click the link "Which one of these authors is an endorser?" (beneath the abstract), then you will see I am right. Dr Lee Smolin is no owner of the paper mentioned here, and cannot endorse papers... Check in the entire listing of his e-prints : it is suspicious that someone like Lee Smolin, I mean someone with so many e-prints in arXiv's database, has no right to endorse papers.

In fact, I had just read in the moment an article about black-listing by arXiv admnistrators. I just wanted to give that theory a check. It seems like those having too non-mainstream ideas are eventually punished this way... Read this in case you are interested by the subject.

Jérôme CHAUVET said...

...It may however be for some other reasons I don't know.

Best,

Steven Colyer said...

What about http://vixra.org/ ?

Garrett Lisi turned me onto that in his long last reply at this website's blarticle: "Surfing the Universe". ViXra Seems like a website that has sprung up continue the intent of Cornell's arXiv, which Cornell has apparently gotten quite tough with, for whatEVer politic bias exist with the webmasters' organization there.

Gawd, I hate Politics in general, especially in Physics. I mean, I understand it's unavoidable whenever a collection of humans assemble, but in MathPhys ?! Sigh.

Steven Colyer said...

Just to make it easier, click here to see viXra's Mission statement. I'm not endorsing the website as I know too little about it at present, just trying to point out there are options. The fear I suppose is it will develop into crackpottery central, but at least it's democratic.

Jérôme CHAUVET said...

Steven: Heh, I have put one article in this database; I am not however convinced to be a crackpot (oh, that horrible & nasty word)

Try to get endorsed at arXiv without having friends in the field, and you'll understand the reason why viXra must be.

It is however true that you'll find there hilarious things to read, e.g. theories dictated by Jesus Christ (himself). Without however being so extreme, arXiv contains such things too, so it does not matter to have some in the database, as it plugs the holes of the hard beginnings.

Best,

Jérôme CHAUVET said...

One good use of World of Warcraft, Andrew, is it keeps the Chinese busy

The incredible Steven and his incredible answers... I definitely like such a conception of things.

Steven Colyer said...

Wow and thanks, that's a rather amazing paper, Jérôme. I sure wish a peer had your back so you could arXiv it, is that where your current efforts are headed? Can't say I understand all of it because that's not my area of expertise, but I'm impressed you're a Biochemist (like Issac Asimov the Great!), and that it makes me feel good to see Biochemists digging on Mathematical Physics, especially given that thanks to Schrodinger and Pauli (especially Wolfgang Pauli).

Chemistry, Physic's stepchild, has blown far past Physics in the discovery department, and Chemistry's stepchild, Biology, has blown farther ahead even yet. Good stuff on trying to unite all four. Keep goin'!

For historical purposes, Lisi mentioned this paper was censored at arXiv.

I love the Cantor and Non-Commutativity stuff. You're aware of Alain Connes' work, yes?

Jérôme CHAUVET said...

Steven: The interdisciplanary approach is the most risky one because the establishment, which prefers establishing science into fields, does hence prevent us from tending to universality.

If you deeply observe figure #1, you will see what I personnally understand as being some archaic model for the big-bang. See: one point, then explosion into a gaussian distribution (it is fuzzy, not well-defined), then emergence of fractal-like structures... Mmmm, seems to be quite interesting... If I had time, I could explain how to relate this to the decrease in temperature which is thought to occur when the Universe grows up... I haven't got the time.

Endorsers do not want to endorse you if they do not know you personnally. On vixra.org, I wrote a comment in which I explain how risky it is to look for such a blind endorsement. In deed, I lately found a paper title on arXiv quite close to my subject : I had looked for an endorsement with those authors, was given no positive reply, but the subject I dealt with gave some inspiration (I think).

All the biochemists I know don't even know arxiv. Fortunately, vixra was there for this work.

Believe me Steven, non-commutativity must be addressed. We do not know much about it, but the first results I had studying it for its phenomenological consequences is quite promising.

Best,

Jérôme CHAUVET said...

About Alain Connes : I read his book 'Noncommutative geometry' + arxiv articles. The most difficult and amazing book I ever read in my life. I must say, it is the only mathematics book (I have read a lot) I do not understand at fullest. He is for me THE mathematician.

Steven Colyer said...

Believe me Steven, non-commutativity must be addressed.

Absolutely it must, so let's address it.

I mean, I don't think it's such a big deal, but so many people seem to have a hard time with it.

Forget for a second that the Weak Force says we live in a left-handed non-commutative Universe, it gets more basic than that.

Begin with the fact that added vectors care not in which the order you take them, but multiplied vectors very much do.

Add to that a very basic bit from Mathematics known as The Cauchy-Schwarz Inequality, which is at the core of Indeterminacy (Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle) and John Stewart Bell's Inequality Theorem, and where's the problem?

Jérôme CHAUVET said...

The important thing is to identify connections between mathematical non-commutativity and phenomenological non-commutativity. Heisenberg did this well, showing that non-commutativity and measurements are anyhow fundamentally linked to each other. In what I posted to vixra, I tested two hypothesis : one for which I conclude that mathematical non-commutativity has no phenomenology (because mass is not preserved when flipping the two operators of the theory), and one for which non-commutativity has a formal phenomonology (because, this time, mass is preserved when flipping the operators).
The important thing is to keep being sure that multiplication of mathematical objects corresponds to characterized couplings of events in the real system.

I must say, I have been quite impressed by Heisenberg's approach. The old article in which he discovered the matrix mechanics, and which I read (though in French), is to me a genuine scientific achievement. In it, he writes something like: stop dreaming those systems, let's focus on experimental values and see what mathematics hence brings out.

And it works, so why doubting further about the theory ? The best school ever : theory is no fantasy, no dream, it is a talk about facts on the paper.

True, non-commutativity is some harsh area because we need tools to seize it at fullest. Like non-linearity, non-commutativity is all about multiplication and the complexity that comes with that.

Clearly, the emerging complexity is what make it so fascinating.

Best,