random image generator

Hint: Click applet to update image.
Note: You need Java to see this thing.
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Explanation (aka. "What the...?")

The above applet may seem like it's just nonsense...but that's because it is.
There's just a bit of sense behind the nonsense though.
In short it assigns 1 of 4096 colors to each pixel on it's screen.

The true magnitude of this applet

This applet may generate a picture of every single visible object, and all visible levels of detail of that object, that exists, has existed, or will exist, or could exist


Images on the computer are just a collection of pixels. That means that if we generate random colored pixels in a blank image, there's a chance it will appear to be an actual picutre of something. The really cool part is that it can appear to be a picture of ANYTHING! Here's a short list of what you MIGHT see:


The above applet is set to a size of 800x600. I've also deicded to limit it to 4096 color choices per pixel (16 red, 16 green, 16 blue). The total number of images possible then is (4096)^((800*600). This slightly less than 10 to the power of 1,102,751. This is a mind-bogglingly huge number, but it still represents a finite number of pictures.

Why should I care?

There's no reason you should, but then again, there's no reason you shouldn't.
Now, you may be thinking: "Hey, that's a pretty big number, I probably won't see anything cool..."
Well....yes. But the chances of winning the lottery are around 1 in 100's of millions. And just look how many people play it (and WIN!)!
It's also important to realize that while there's only 1 image of a perticular object (say, the Mona Lisa), there are more than 4000 images that are close to that image, only differing by 1 pixel. If you add all the images that only differ by 2 pixels, then you realize that you don't have to beat odds of 1 out of 10^1102751, but, say something like 100,000 out of 10^1102751.
If enough people generate random images, one of them might see something that's going to surpise them!
So spread the word!

Can you elaborate a bit more on this?

Well, since you asked, sure.
The thought of this occured to me in late 2004. Then I forgot about it, until about a week ago.
On an image of limited size, there's a finite set of images you can see (though actually the number is incredibly big, even with the small size and number of colors I've chosen).
Since ANY visible physical object may be represented as a picture of 800x600, you can argue that that number of images represent EVERY level of detail of ALL objects in existence.

In other words, this applet may generate images from all of the visible universe along the entire timeline. In other words, all of the visible space that has, or will, exist!
It may be difficult to convince yourself of this first. First, by "visible" I mean information that can be described by photons. This is because the representation we're generating is visual only. However, in the set of all the images this applet can generate, is contained every level of detail of the visible universe, both past and future.
This is because images are a mapping of reality to a color array. This gives us finite combinations to work with.
Still, this is mind boggling. Think, this applet can generate an image of you at every single second of your life. And it can also do that for all people that have ever existed. It can generate a picture of every car on the planet, every rock, every dust particle.
Ever wanted to make a perfect photoshop of yourself flying a F22 into the Death Star? This applet may generate that! Actually, any and all things you can imagine may be generated by this applet.
See what I'm getting at?
Since we've chosen to map reality on a finite image, the set of images becomes finite, and can actually be used to represent EVERYTHING.
These images compose a sort of a fractal, which repeats itself at irregular intervals.

Has anyone actually asked the previous question?

Well, no. But that hasn't stopped me before!

This doesn't seem that likely...

Yeah, I admit, it doesn't. In 99.999999999999% (estimate) of cases you're just going to see noise. That's not so fun. But imagine how fascinated you'll be if you stumble on a meaningful combination of the random pixels.
You would have beaten INCREDIBLE ODDS!
I also admit that when I say "random" I'm actually talking about the computer's pseudo-random number generator, and not true randomness. However, since pseudo-random means there's actually some pattern to the way it generates numbers, there could be a slightly bigger chance to see something meaningful in the above applet.

Who are you?

I'm just another CS graduate. As I'm apparently jobless I have a lot of free time on my hands.
More on me is on my main page.

Also, feel free to contact me at milcho[dot]penchev[at]gmail[dot]com if you're interested in this, have suggestions, or are an employer looking to hire a c++/java graphics programmer (especially that last one).

update 1: made the applet use a backbuffer for faster drawing, and better handling.
update 2: changed the information, fixing a math error.
Future update: Allow users to enter "image coordinates" that would uniquely indentify an image. Will allow you to try your own luck, and to share any image by simply sharing the image coordinates. NOTE: this may not actually be possible to achieve...