Beautiful math

There’s a lot more to math than just crunching numbers. One of the most attractive qualities of mathematics is its ability to spawn intricate and beautiful systems on the basis of very simple rules. My favorite example of this is the Mandelbrot Set.

The Mandelbrot Set is based on one very simple rule: If you take a complex number c and the sequence

z_0 = 0 \\ z_{n+1} = z_n^2 + c

converges (i.e. if you start at zero and keep squaring the number you have and adding c, you won’t end up with arbitrarily large numbers), then c is part of the Mandelbrot Set. Otherwise, c is not part of the Mandelbrot Set.

The really neat thing about this is what happens when you visualize in two dimensions what this set looks like. I wrote a simple Python program to do this, and this is what it looks like:

mandelbrot_1500x1500_1

Continue reading “Beautiful math”

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It is a blooming, bursting faith (poetry)

It is a blooming, bursting faith —

Reliant on rain

like a plant in desert soil,

it wilts without water,

but nothing is more beautiful

than its buds and petals that erupt

in the lee shadow of a storm.

I wrote that poem in April of 2016, and it still stands as an illustration of the crazy trip I’ve been on since then. The following is a selection of the poetry that I have written over the past years that illustrate my “blooming, bursting faith,” and the many forms that faith has taken as I’ve struggled to get to the bottom of some of the age-old questions of being human. Continue reading “It is a blooming, bursting faith (poetry)”

Visual music art

Just for fun, I recently wrote a simple computer program to visualize repetivity in a sample of text. I’ve been kind of entranced by the patterns my program generated when I plugged song lyrics into it. Hopefully you find a sort of artistic quality in them, too:

How it works

Each pixel in the image represents a single word. The lyrics of the song run diagonally from the top left corner to the bottom right corner, and whenever a word appears at multiple points along the diagonal — let’s say at (a,a) and (b,b), using a grid system with the origin in the top left corner — it will generate two pixels at (a,b) and (b,a). Here’s a simple example:

example.png Continue reading “Visual music art”

Christ as the ideal Humankind

These are just some scattered thoughts about Christian theology that have been fermenting inside me recently, for whatever they’re worth:

There has been a rising godly call within me that I want to take some time to address. This has been the call of Christ.

I was in the past accustomed to thinking of Jesus Christ as a man who lived long ago, taught eternal truths, established a true church upon the earth, and gave himself up as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice of God. Christ can certainly be all of these things, but as my faith and understanding have changed with time, my perspective of what Christ can be in a modern age has assumed a new shape: to me, the venerable traits of the Christian Savior that have risen to the forefront are perfect empathy and beautiful grace. It is my conviction that Christ can be more than a perfect man — he can be a perfect mankind. Continue reading “Christ as the ideal Humankind”

When God Plays Hide and Seek, part 9

This is the last of a series of posts about my evolving faith. If you want some more context, you can read the other parts of the series. Here are the links for parts one, two, three, four, fivesixseven, and eight to make that easier for you.

Faith remains

I find a fat, happy man inside me

When I had first dived into the study of different faith traditions shortly after arriving home from the mission, I was very impressed by the philosophies of Hinduism and Buddhism. I was interested by Hindu ideas such as the many incarnations of the god Vishnu in the Vaishnava tradition (which seemed to allow space for christlike saviors to appear among all people, manifesting aspects of divine nature and providing different paths to the same celestial end) and the concept of maya (the illusory nature of reality), which reinforced and solidified many of the conclusions I was coming to personally. Later, I was impressed by the pragmatism of Buddhist thinking and its potential for application even in a secular sense. I wasn’t looking to convert to a different religion and start worshiping blue deities with four arms; I was simply searching for traces of the divine from different perspectives, and I was encouraged by what I was able to find. Continue reading “When God Plays Hide and Seek, part 9”

When God Plays Hide and Seek, part 8

This is part eight in a series of posts about my personal adventures in the land of faith. If you want some context, you can go back and read parts one, two, three, four, fivesix, and seven.

I hold down the power button for a few seconds to reboot the whole system

If you ask a difficult question about Mormon history or doctrine, you may find yourself advised to just put that question on a “shelf” and wait for it to be resolved when the Lord sees fit. After all, with the fulness of the gospel, we have everything we really need, and everything else will be worked out in the Lord’s own time, right? Because of this metaphor, a lot of Mormons experienced in faith crisis will refer to the onset of their crisis as the moment that their shelves broke. Continue reading “When God Plays Hide and Seek, part 8”