Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Of Simulacrums, Strange Attractors & Scandinavian Coffee Klatsches

Heading presumably north, the shift in air texture more or less a giveaway, but the compass needle is acting up, no more than a jittery approximation of direction. The poles are in flux, possibly contemplating some dramatic rearrangement, the prophesied reversal perhaps, happens every 450,000  years or so, lucky us to be here for it this time around.

One of the many consequences of a major magnetic repositioning is likely to be a dramatic rise in confusion. The simple act of pointing north will become a challenge, a vague though palpable uneasiness will no doubt grip the human population, a kind of global disorientation that will have people walking into walls, attempting to stand on their heads and, for a not insignificant number of people, a descent into full blown madness. 

So basically no discernible difference.  Aside from the fact that we can no longer refer to the Australians as being 'down under.' They would now be 'up over,' as ridiculous as that sounds. And yes, there is the off chance that a magnetic flip would wipe out all life on Earth, and yet we are compelled to ask ourselves, if our entire species was eradicated from the planet in, say, the next 30 seconds, would anyone really notice?

Hey, did you feel that? What the heck just happened?
What are you talking about? I didn't feel anything?
You don't feel like your skin is suddenly melting from non-deflected solar radiation?
I have absolutely no idea what that would feel like, so how would I know?
In any case, you might want to take a peak in the mirror, which by the way appears to be hanging upside down, not to mention pulsating in a way I can only describe as decidedly ominous.
Are you completely insane?
Now that you mention it...

Meanwhile the magnetosphere sighs, the Northern Lights have been turned off in an effort to conserve energy and Jupiter roars. As it usually does, Not so much because it cares, more because it doesn't. Damn distant gas giant!

A woman writes in to an online advise column, asking:
"What exactly is a strange attractor, and is it at all possible that I am one? Admittedly, I am no stranger to the occasional bout of strangeness, and the men I seem to attract are, well, let's just say they tend to give a whole new meaning to the concept of strange. I've also been told that I use the expression, 'Wow, that's so strange' way too often."

 Regrettably, with the exception of a few scientist types who think chaos is cool and in general behave quite strangely themselves (you may have even dated one of them), no one actually knows what a strange attractor is. Suffice it to report that ...

Strange attractors can take an infinite number of different forms, all fractal in nature and demonstrating infinite self-similarity.   Say what now?

You might also want to consider that computer simulations of strange attractors are invariably quite beautiful.  So why not start thinking of yourself as this year's viral version of a fractal beauty pageant winner and while you're at it begin upgrading your standards vis-a-vis the male of the species.

Or simply do what I've done, head north (south actually) to Scandinavia, the new down under, for an out of this world cup of coffee.  Sit back, savor a giant mug and wait for the lights to be turned on again. You probably won't even realize that the climate now resembles Argentina.