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Marcel Brekelmans

Has this ever occurred to you ...

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Let's take a simple camera: resolution is 1024x768. 256 colors. One of the very first digital cameras.

So, how many distinct pictures can it take? Well, obviously, every pixel can have one of 256 colors and there are 1024x768 pixels, so with this camera you could make (1024x768) ^256 distinct images. Let's call it the ULTIMATE number of pictures. And, very important, this is a finite number of pictures.

Now, if I were to take a picture with this camera of, let's say, the very first meeting with an alien, it would have to be one of these ULTIMATE pictures, right?

So, with our very powerful computer, I would be able to generate digital pictures, complying to the limits mentioned before, that show all possible events: meeting aliens, my face in the future, ... , you name it. Every one of the ULTIMATE number of pictures would be generated and stored in my very powerful computer.

Of course, the biggest problem here would be ... you might have them all on hard disk, but unless you see them, and interpretate them, ... they might not be called existing at all.

 

It's a little idea of mine that's been haunting me .. we can generate the past/tense/future but what of it? 

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If your hypothetical camera shoots JPG, then each pixel has a red, green and blue value, so you will have 16,581,375 possible colors per pixel.

at 1024x768, you will have 786,432 pixels.

when you look at 786,432^16,581,375, you get a number that is too big for my computer to even calculate. I'm guessing that you would need a super computer to even figure out how many possible pictures there are.

If your camera is grayscale (only 256 colors) then there are about 1.94653 * 10^1509 possible photos.

This is roughly 9.28178 * 10^1052 TB of data (at 0.5 MB/photo), which is many magnitudes greater than the total storage capacity of all data devices in the world, and even at the rate technology moves forward, I suspect it will be hundreds or  thousands of years (or more) before the planet as a whole has that much storage capacity, let alone the computer capability to produce the photos. And that is just for grayscale, color would be much much more.

So, you won't have to worry about it.

 

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Mathematician I am not, and when numbers get beyond a certain point, I am lost without it being in front of me.

Regardless of the number of possibilities (how many of them would make sense as an image and how many would have to be in the realm of abstract?) the more intriguing question is whether or not they exist.

 

Does any image exist if it is not in a form that it can be viewed? Does the fact that a digital image can be viewed using certain devices and programs and algorithms mean that it is an image when it is dormant /  not being viewed? Yes and no. Is it an image? No. Does it exist? Yes. It is view-able, but unless it is view-able at that moment it is not truly an image. I wish I could afford to print more of my images :rolleyes:

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On 1/12/2018 at 3:23 PM, Marcel Brekelmans said:

.......  And, very important, this is a finite number of pictures ...........

 

I don't think it is a finite number of pictures. An infinite number of pictures can be taken.

 

The reason:

A pixel colored 255/200/234 can represent numerous subjects, not just one.

 

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@Leonard Whistler: you can take an infinite number of images. However, the digital representation of an image with a specific camera is a finite sequence of numbers (ruled by the specs of that specific camera). That means that an infinite number of images is represented by the same sequence of numbers. In other words, the fact that there is a finite number of digital images (made by that specific camera) means that there are situations that, as an image, map onto the same digital image. So, my point was that this specific camera can only produce a finite number of discrete images.

More importantly, @Pamela Walsh: hits it: my main argument here was that, given that any existing digital camera prodcues a finite number of discrete sequence of numbers, this means nothing in repsect to visual stimula: the image gets (emotional)  meaning by being viewed upon. Which is the whole cat-in-the-box point of my post ;)

It was just the idea that somewhere in this vast amount of data (agreed, storage in reality would be a real issue!) there is this number sequence that ,interpretated by your viewer as an image), shows our first contact with aliens. Etc.

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5 hours ago, Marcel Brekelmans said:

@Leonard Whistler: you can take an infinite number of images. However, the digital representation of an image with a specific camera is a finite sequence of numbers (ruled by the specs of that specific camera). That means that an infinite number of images is represented by the same sequence of numbers. In other words, the fact that there is a finite number of digital images (made by that specific camera) means that there are situations that, as an image, map onto the same digital image. So, my point was that this specific camera can only produce a finite number of discrete images.

More importantly, @Pamela Walsh: hits it: my main argument here was that, given that any existing digital camera prodcues a finite number of discrete sequence of numbers, this means nothing in repsect to visual stimula: the image gets (emotional)  meaning by being viewed upon. Which is the whole cat-in-the-box point of my post ;)

It was just the idea that somewhere in this vast amount of data (agreed, storage in reality would be a real issue!) there is this number sequence that ,interpretated by your viewer as an image), shows our first contact with aliens. Etc.

Yes I ponder such things as well... while at work doing mindless monkey button pushing (according to management that's all us machine operators are) I should write more of it down hehehe

4 hours ago, Rudy Umans said:

Stay away from Coffeeshops Marcel :)  (yes one word)

I've done poetry readings in coffeeshops... shhh don't tell anyone... *snap snap snap snap*

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20 hours ago, Leonard Whistler said:

 

I don't think it is a finite number of pictures. An infinite number of pictures can be taken.

 

The reason:

A pixel colored 255/200/234 can represent numerous subjects, not just one.

 

A single pixel can have one of a finite number (16,581,375 colors for 8 bit/channel, or 255 or 8 bit grayscale), and the hypothetical sensor size is finite, so there are a finite number of pictures that can be taken (although a very large number).

One pixel does not represent numerous subjects, it is just one specific color in the overall scene.

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14 hours ago, Paul Daniels said:

on top of the number of colours per pixel you also have to multiply by the luminance (brightness) levels.   I don't know how many levels your camera may have but could be another factor of 255!

No, the luminance is part of the color. For gray,  a luminance of 0 is black, and 255 is white. For color, 0,0,0 is black, 255,255,255 is white. There is no extra value for luminance.

When you see luminance in a photo editing program, it just manipulates the RGB values.

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2 hours ago, Doug McLean said:

A single pixel can have one of a finite number (16,581,375 colors for 8 bit/channel, or 255 or 8 bit grayscale), and the hypothetical sensor size is finite, so there are a finite number of pictures that can be taken (although a very large number).

One pixel does not represent numerous subjects, it is just one specific color in the overall scene.

 

  • The number of pictures possible is endless.
  • Sensor size does not matter.

 

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On 1/12/2018 at 5:23 PM, Marcel Brekelmans said:

Let's take a simple camera: resolution is 1024x768. 256 colors. One of the very first digital cameras.

So, how many distinct pictures can it take? Well, obviously, every pixel can have one of 256 colors and there are 1024x768 pixels, so with this camera you could make (1024x768) ^256 distinct images. Let's call it the ULTIMATE number of pictures. And, very important, this is a finite number of pictures.

Now, if I were to take a picture with this camera of, let's say, the very first meeting with an alien, it would have to be one of these ULTIMATE pictures, right?

So, with our very powerful computer, I would be able to generate digital pictures, complying to the limits mentioned before, that show all possible events: meeting aliens, my face in the future, ... , you name it. Every one of the ULTIMATE number of pictures would be generated and stored in my very powerful computer.

Of course, the biggest problem here would be ... you might have them all on hard disk, but unless you see them, and interpretate them, ... they might not be called existing at all.

 

It's a little idea of mine that's been haunting me .. we can generate the past/tense/future but what of it? 

I understand what you are getting at and I don't have a specific solution, (maybe partial answer, yes but it's highly unlikely that random pixels will create ever image possible in the universe, because yes there are a limited number of combinations of pixels, colors, brightness Etc.) but I think will give you a logical and comparable mathematical answer. That number is highly close to infinite.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_monkey_theorem

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Yes @HodagMedia, I've heard about the monkey theorem and my idea is exactly that. Of course, it's quite impractical, it was just a thought. Funny to read this article with a mathematical look at it, I didn't know that.

For practical purposes I'm inclined to go with @cpaulfell (although I didn't really liked the book, bit boring, sorry).

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9 hours ago, Leonard Whistler said:

 

  • The number of pictures possible is endless.
  • Sensor size does not matter.

 

What you see is endless because scenes are analog, so there are infinite possibilities.

Sensors are digital, so what they can record is limited by the number of pixels, and the number of colors per pixel. There is a finite numner of photos that they can produce.

It is simple math.

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5 hours ago, Doug McLean said:

What you see is endless because scenes are analog, so there are infinite possibilities.

Sensors are digital, so what they can record is limited by the number of pixels, and the number of colors per pixel. There is a finite numner of photos that they can produce.

It is simple math.

 

  • You do not understand the original question.
  • Analog Digital - it doesn't matter.

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8 hours ago, Marcel Brekelmans said:

Yes @HodagMedia, I've heard about the monkey theorem and my idea is exactly that. Of course, it's quite impractical, it was just a thought. Funny to read this article with a mathematical look at it, I didn't know that.

For practical purposes I'm inclined to go with @cpaulfell (although I didn't really liked the book, bit boring, sorry).

I was going to add the same about the math. I just think the concept is that, with enough time and pixels, everything possible to make with a finite number of combinations of pixels, is possible. In other words, a photo of everything. I'll repeat the other simple answer, however it's improbable. Theory is one thing, actual doing it, is another. You might start small and work your way up? Say what's the limit for an ICO file? 16x16 the base standard but now can be up to 256x256, then 8 bit = 256 colors x 1 bit transparency. There you are a finite number of combinations for a real world test. Go get a Cray computer and have a great time. :)

HHGuide I started listening on the radio, recorded every week. First show I thought I had the wrong time and station. Took well into that, after I stopped the tape, to discover it was right. Never got the first show, so there I was, the whole series, without the beginning.

Picked up the book used, never got past starting. Found the Books On Tape version, read by the author. My first ever book on tape, and it was on tape, not CD or thumb drive. (pretty amazing itself as that was 2016) :rolleyes: My minivan still had a tape player. Off I went to the races, over 600 mile drive. Started listening. Coming home after the weekend, was moving up the chapters and... the brakes went out, the mini van started over heating, I had to stop for gas but then the radiator would boil over. Moving there was enough to keep it from losing all the water. Putting on the brakes meant stopping to buy more brake fluid. Which of course meant adding more water.

Aside from the obvious, I made it home, I junked the minivan and now what, no car with a tape player. I finally found the show on digital format, burned it to CD and next long trip finished the book. Whew, almost as difficult as an adventure to the restaurant at the end of the universe.

I have to say, for my first book on tape, and the whole adventure, plus the side distractions, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Never got around to a second book, maybe next year? The wit and humor, especially read by the author made the experience extra special and I finally understood a whole slew of inside jokes and quotes. Kind of like watching Monty Python Holy Grail a few times... Oh I think get it, really, it's all about coconuts, the bunny and the shrubbery. Or... :huh:

 

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4 hours ago, Leonard Whistler said:

 

  • You do not understand the original question.
  • Analog Digital - it doesn't matter.

Whatever.

My degree is half math and half computer science (with an engineering diploma thrown in) so I know what I am talking about.

With a digital camera you are dealing with a finite amount of possible data combinations. That's the way digital data works, whether you understand it or not..

 

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2 minutes ago, Doug McLean said:

Whatever.

My degree is half math and half computer science (with an engineering diploma thrown in) so I know what I am talking about.

With a digital camera you are dealing with a finite amount of possible data combinations. That's the way digital data works, whether you understand it or not..

 

 

So a film camera (analog) can take an unlimited amount different photos without a duplicate and a digital camera can't?

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Quantum physics theorises that our entire universe is quantum meaning that there is a minimum size to everything in the universe, even space and time.  For example the Planck length is the minimum measurement that can’t be divided.  (It is impossible to have ½ of a Planck length)  So if that’s the case our entire visible universe is digital and not analog.  That would mean that like a digital photo, there is only a finite number ways that you are able arrange the visible universe.  But to our small human minds this is such a staggering large number that it’s might as well be infinite. 

So just like I’m not limited by the finite number of ways I can arrange the visible universe, I don’t think we need to worry about being limited by the finite number of ways we can make a digital photo!  Now I think I’m going to head back to that coffeshop of Ruddy’s, lol!

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Just now, Leonard Whistler said:

 

So a film camera (analog) can take an unlimited amount different photos without a duplicate and a digital camera can't?

Correct, if you assume that film is analog and the coating is uniform and infinitely small.

Light is analog, so there are infinite color variations for a dot of light, and that dot can be an infinite number of sizes.

A digital camera converts analog light into a digital signal, and each dot is a fixed size pixel, and each pixel must have one of a finite number of colors.

For example, if you assume 8 bits/color (this would be JPG, raw would be more but the theory is the same), a digital camera might see a single pixels color values as 120, 130, 200.

But (simplifying things greatly) the actual values might be 120.2, 130.1, 199.8. Or, they might have been 119.7, 129.9, 200.2

A digital camera will record both of the above as 120, 130, 200, but an analog camera does not record these as numbers, it just measures the values of the light. An analog camera doesn't break the light down into discrete pixels with digital color values.

Think of an analog camera as a bottle with water. It can have 1.0 liters, 1.001 liters, 1.0000000000000001 liters, etc. Now think of a digital camera as a digital device that can measure the water in steps of 0.01 liters. If the bottle holds up to 2 liters, then there are only so many readings you could get for the water level, 0.9999 liters and 1.0001 liters would give the same reading (1.0). Is is a similar concept with a digital camera.

There are other considerations involved with analog film, such as film grain, grain on the photo paper (if you aren't shooting slide film), sensitivity of the film to various wavelengths of light, etc.

But the basic physics is that the set of data that a digital camera can record is finite, and it depends on the number of pixels in the sensor, and the number of color values each pixel can have.

 

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