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  1. #11
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    What if an infinite number of monkeys were using digital P&S cameras with instant wireless printing -- would one of them ever photograph a burning blimp?
    At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.

  2. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by jnanian View Post
    the heck with printing a photograph
    can the million monkeys fix an oil leak ??
    If you stuff them into the hole, sure.

    (What?!)

  3. #13
    Christopher Walrath's Avatar
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    Posted wirelessly..

    Are any of these monkeys wearing cute little vests? Did we ever give consideration for random use of apparell?

    So now the equation should be P = f(Tommy Hilfigger)
    Thank you.
    CWalrath
    APUG BLIND PRINT EXCHANGE
    DE Darkroom

    "Wubba, wubba, wubba. Bing, bang, bong. Yuck, yuck, yuck and a fiddle-dee-dee." - The Yeti

  4. #14

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    Sniffing fixer for too long is not good. Get some fresh air.

  5. #15

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    Have you ever heard of a place called Flicker.com? It may be a finite number of people with a finite number of cameras, but there are those gems shot by first time photographers using disposable cameras. Point proven in photography.

    In writing we have Margret Mitchel, Mary Shelly, and Brahms Stoker all of whom only wrote one book, I bet you can name all three books.

    In Chemistry we have the man that figured out how to refine Aluminum by tossing jumper cables attached to a car battery into a boxite solution.

    The man who discovered Pluto was the observatory handy man, not an astronomer.

    So yes, an infinite number of monkeys would eventually process a perfect photo, but you would need a lot of chemical and should expect a lot of disasters and plenty of dead monkeys, and don't ask them to do it again.

  6. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by bblhed View Post
    Have you ever heard of a place called Flicker.com? It may be a finite number of people with a finite number of cameras, but there are those gems shot by first time photographers using disposable cameras. Point proven in photography.

    In writing we have Margret Mitchel, Mary Shelly, and Brahms Stoker all of whom only wrote one book, I bet you can name all three books.
    Margret Mitchell wrote more than just that one book.
    Mary Shelly wrote many books.
    And yes, so did Bram Stoker (Brahms?).

    Quote Originally Posted by bblhed View Post
    In Chemistry we have the man that figured out how to refine Aluminum by tossing jumper cables attached to a car battery into a boxite solution.
    Yet not accidentally.

    Quote Originally Posted by bblhed View Post
    The man who discovered Pluto was the observatory handy man, not an astronomer.
    No, he wasn't.
    He was hired because his astronomical work impressed Lowell, who was fed up with looking for what was to be named Pluto later himself.

    In short: none of the example above are of a one-of, first-try successes.

    Though it is of course true that it didn't take an infinite number of attempts.

    Infinity does not exist. Nor do infinite amounts of monkeys.
    So the old 'ex falso sequitur quodlibet' applies. In an infinite way.

  7. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicholas Lindan View Post
    Interestingly, the number string representing the number pi passes all tests for being truly random. Therefore there is a finite probability that it contains at least a few of the opening words of Hamlet.
    I wouldn't call it a "finite probability"; it either does or it doesn't, although at the moment (as far as I can tell) we don't know which.

    I think most people in a position to have a good guess believe that every finite sequence probably does appear in the decimal expansion of pi somewhere---a million zeros in a row, the ASCII codes for a transcription of _Hamlet_ followed by an essay attributing it to Francis Bacon, a high-resolution bitmap representing that nice portrait I took of my grandma last year. The last I knew it had not actually been proven.

    Someone---I think the author David James Duncan---made the trenchant observation that not only will the hypothetical monkeys produce _Hamlet_, but they'll also come very very close and then screw it up; if you accept that a monkey at a typewriter is a random letter generator (which probably isn't true of real monkeys, but never mind), your roomful of monkeys will occasionally get all the way down to the end of the play, and then have Fortinbras say "Go, bid the soldiers shoo$!*&bqlkaddf."

    But pi can be calculated from a simple formula and the digits of pi are fixed - does this mean that Hamlet is deterministic? Is the genius of Hamlet the ability to spot the right 120,000 characters from an infinite stream?
    See Jorge Luis Borges's _The Library Of Babel_ (text, probably in violation of copyright, at http://jubal.westnet.com/hyperdiscor..._of_babel.html) for a really thorough treatment of this question.

    To get back on topic, this is a very digital discussion; text is intrinsically a digital-like medium, in the sense that it uses a finite alphabet in well-defined sequences and so makes it really easy to answer the question "when are two texts the same?" (You can argue about specific criteria like case and spacing, but whatever decision you take on those criteria, you'll get a clear definition of "the same".)

    Analog photos are different; in any sense we can recognise, there is no good way to decide that two prints (resp. negatives, slides) are "exactly the same". Is the spacing of the grains on the medium the same? (I mean, *really* the same? To within the diameter of an atom? What about the electron clouds in the constituent silver atoms---are they the same? What does that question even mean?) If you have an infinite crew of monkeys scattering photons over light-sensitive media, or directly scattering activated and deactivated silver grains on a substrate, it's not at all clear that you'll eventually get an "exact" duplicate of _Pepper No. 30_. But you will get a lot of very, very, *very* close approximations.

    In _Hamlet_, it's pretty clear that those close approximations are wrong: "Go, bid the soldiers sh*t." isn't *that* far from "Go, bid the soldiers shoot.", but it has a drastic effect on the tone in which the play ends! By contrast, you could move quite a lot of grains around at random in Weston's print without making an appreciable visual difference, and it's almost impossible to find specific areas where a little localised change would really affect the semantics of the image. At the most, it would end up looking like a technical problem in printing---until you start talking about clusters that are *really* large in grain terms, large enough to represent their own identifiable images within the picture.

    What I'm saying, I guess, is that the distance between the "randomisable" level of individual photons or grains, and the "semantic" level of the overall work of art, is a lot larger for a photo than it is for text. This much is true for d*g*t*l too---it's a long way from individual pixels to artistic semantics---but analog has the extra complication that the randomisable level itself is still quite complex, rather than being based on a simple discrete model like letters or pixels.

    Is this line of thinking artistically important? Maybe so; a lot of us seem to have a general feeling that the complexity and "slipperiness" of the underlying mechanics create part of the appeal of analog. On the other hand, considering how far below the threshold of visual perception those complex mechanics are, maybe this discussion is just a theoretical exercise with no real applicability to the photographic image.

    I don't think it's possible to make an airtight argument for either perspective on scientific grounds; certainly not by expanding pi or training monkeys. But both of those have their own rewards, not least in allowing us to burn time on speculative discussion threads like this one!

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
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    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

  8. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by bblhed View Post
    In Chemistry we have the man that figured out how to refine Aluminum by tossing jumper cables attached to a car battery into a boxite solution.
    Do you mean the "Hall-Héroult" process from 1886?

    Benz built his first car in 1885 - perhaps he had invented the jumper cable by the following year, but I'd be surprise, as who else had a car to give him a jump start?
    Kirk

    For up from the ashes, up from the ashes, grow the roses of success!

  9. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by ntenny View Post
    I wouldn't call it a "finite probability"; it either does or it doesn't, although at the moment (as far as I can tell) we don't know which.
    Yes, we do.
    It doesn't.

  10. #20
    Perry Way's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mopar_guy View Post
    Sniffing fixer for too long is not good. Get some fresh air.
    Now that is some sagely advice!
    I love the wilderness and I love my trail cameras, all Fuji's! :) GA645, GW690 III, and the X100 which I think is the best trail camera ever invented (to date).

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