Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Eye in the Sky

"I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all."

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Not a perfect fit, but I've been wanting to post that quote for years. I finally broke down and did it.

All the eyeball photos in this glorious eyeball-rific series are from photos I originally took of an eyeball sculpture we saw in a sculpture park in St. Louis. [Yes, even the "Pop Goes the Eyeball" eyeball, which (obviously) I cropped and reduced in size.] We were driving from Rome to KC to visit my parents, and though the drive is nearly 800 miles, and we completed the trip in a single day, I insisted on stopping at the park specifically to visit the giant eyeball. One must pay hommage where hommage is due, no?

We spent a good hour or two there walking about and taking in the weird sculptures.

Oh, glory.


timekeeper said...

I'm not sure this could actually happen. But then again there is snow in 49 states too. So, who knows what the next weather disaster might bring (20% chance of giant eyeballs from the Gulf coast)

Andy D. said...

"singeom" is awesome!

Here's one I thought of on the drive in to work:

You'd think that bloggers would have had enough of silly photos.
But I look around me and I see it isn't so. Oh no.
Some people wanna fill the world with silly photos.

And what's wrong with that?
I'd like to know,
'cause here I go,

Eye, love, you.
Eye, love, you.
Eye, love, you.
Eye, love, you.

Andy D. said...

By the way, as goofy as this picture is, it looks oddly "Lord of the Rings."

Which is a compliment.

Oh, if only every city had a giant menacing eyeball perched atop its most famous landmark, watching the mortals toil in servitude.

Mike Bailey said...

Andy D, I nearly banned you forever from the blog following the Lord of the Rings "compliment," but you saved yourself at the last second with the suggestion of the ubiquitous menacing eyeball.

I can picture it now. I'd be the only one in the city trying to make friends with the eyeball, dancing in front of it, taking photos, dancing some more, setting up a tent in front of it consorting with it 24/7.

Speaking of which: Juli says my dancing muse is Mick Jagger. See? Like I've always said, I ain't a white boy.

Andy D. said...

Let me just say, the first time The Eyeball noticed you dancing in front of it, in about three seconds it would sear your a$$ to kingdom come with one red laser shot, with nary a forethought.

The Eyeball don't like a brownnoser.

The Eyeball is not there to make friends or to help you through life. The Eyeball is there to rule your city. Including you. Unlike a human king, it does not need or want a "court jester." IT decides what it funny. And, nothing is funny.

So I'd say St. Looey got a whole mess a problems.

Andy D. said...

PS -- on the other hand, if the eyeball IS friendly -- maybe it is now there as part of the tourist attraction at The Arch?

In which case, I'm going up to check it out. I think I could see my house from there!


Andy D. said...

Geometry Question Of The Day (aka, "Lydia and Technoprairie, get out your calculators"):

If the earth (using a standard 3,956 mile radius) were covered in giant eyeballs that could see everything in every direction, and each eyeball is perched atop a tower that is exactly 1 mile tall --

Assuming the earth to be perfectly flat, how many such towers would be required for the eyeballs to see 100% of the earth's surface, and how far apart would they be spaced from one another?


shinigami-sidhe said...

Andy-what is the average range of vision for an eyeball that is 1 mile above the ground (assuming weather conditions never interfere) and what is the range of vision of an eyeball? Can we assume they have 360 field of view because they are totally Lord of the Rings magical?

Andy D. said...

Hi S-S!! Long time no talk.

Of course the eyeballs are Lord of the Rings magical - I mean what else would they be?? : )

But otherwise, your question is a good one. The eyes can see to the horizon. Thus, the only limitation on them is the curvature of the earth.


shinigami-sidhe said...

AD-Hi! I've been sick and filled with an accompanying lethargic ennui.

Since you have explicitly assumed a flat earth, then if the eyeballs can see to the horizon, we need exactly one of them.

I love simplifying assumptions.

Andy D. said...

S-S -- it's a shame that we have to start back up again with an argument, after all this time and what with your sickness and your pale soul. Or whatever.

But -- if we gotta, we gotta!

"Au contrair, mon frere."

My assumption does NOT mean it is a flat earth. My assumption merely means that the eye can see only to the horizon at its location. In other words, the eye can see to the point on the earth where the curvature of the earth itself no longer lets the eye see over the horizon. So at that point, you need another eye to see that next area.

So, recalculate.

Hint - it is far more than one. In fact, let's have a game to see who can guess closest before Lydia or TP gives us the correct answer. I have no idea, but my guess is 500.

Bailey's guess is "at least a milleneum."


PS - word to the The Return of the King (Oscar winner, note) being the best movie of all time. There it is. Thank you, Mike, for this photo made in obvious and fitting tribute to it.

I hate to even ask... but well, ok. What would an eyeball inside the Bean look like.

There, I said it.

But what a waste of time that would be, what with the (formerly) Sears Tower right there next to it, able to see probably clear to Toronto if not Pittsburg. Plus the point of the Bean seems to you, you lookin at it, not it lookin at you.

shinigami-sidhe said...

Fine. We need 356,643 magical eyeballs. According to this website

we can calculate distance to the horizon as sqrt(2HR) where R is the radius of the earth and H is height above ground. We are going to assume that the magical eyeballs can see the entire distance to the horizon, so we just plug in a height of 1.6 km and a radius of 64000 km, multiply it by 2, take the square root and get 143. Total surface area of the earth is 510,000,000 km^2, which divided by 143 is 356543.

Julie said...

Great poster (text included) for "homeland security".

justcurious said...

I have to think that eye can see Russia from its house.

Mike Bailey said...

Good point, Julie! And since "they" (i.e. "The Man") are monitoring our every communication, I have made this photo my work computer's desktop image--and I encourage you to do the same. For a higher quality image, it's best to click on the photo on the blog and then save it. This photo can ward off "The Man, " or at least fool him into thinking we're on the same team.

Andy D. said...


Well fine!!!

Good job. Ok seriously, great job.

Two questions. One, why do you just divide the surface area by the horizon distance?

Two, you didn't answer part B, how far apart each tower is.

Andy D. said...

OK S-S, now that I can read your answer on my computer and not on my phone, I'm refining my question One and regarding your answer:

If I understand what the website -- errrrr, you -- are saying, 143 is the linear distance from the eye to the horizon.

So that is a distance in km.

So if you divide the total surface area of the earth by it (which is in square kilometers), then your answer still has units on it of km. Not "number of eyeballs."

So what I think is -- the 143 must be correct that it is how far the eye can see to the horizon -- but then you have to convert THAT into a surface area over which the eye can see (square kilometers). So basically, area of circle = pi x radius squared.

Once you do that, then you have to find the geometric pattern of eye placements that will COVER an area. You can't just butt circle areas up against each other -- there will be space between them where the eyes can't see. So you have to overlap those areas. Once you figure that out, THEN AND ONLY THEN can you divide that ratio into the surface area of the earth, ultimately ending up with a correct number of eyeballs.

So in other words, strike one.


shinigami-sidhe said...

AD-Yeah, I didn't explain that, but I figured that each horizon distance squared would be the amount of km squared that each eyeball would be able to see over in total, sound reasonable? So I have to figure out how many of these groups of horizon distances are on the entire earth's surface.

Distance apart, good question. Well, we assume each eyeball to be in the exact center of each unit of 143 km^2, so to get from one eyeball to the next you would have to travel 143 km. Say 143/2 to get from one eyeball to the edge of that eyeball's "territory" + another 143/2 km to get from the edge of the next eyeball's "territory" to the eyeball itself.

Andy D. said...

My favorite part of this exercise has just switched from the math, to the concept that the future eyeball sentries (rulers of humankind?) each has a "territory."

shinigami-sidhe said...

I'm not sure I would agree that my favorite part of this question has switched from the math (because this is one of the greatest math questions EVER) but I'm thinking the eyeballs are, at the very least, like very territorial male cats, and they absolutely do not want to see each other. So if we have two eyeballs in the same 143 km^2 area, they will clearly fight to the death.

Andy D. said...

Along the lines of this new "fighting eyeball overlords" direction -- which is FANTASTIC, by the way -- I think there are two different sets of eyes. Some are blue, more are green. The greens are everywhere - but the blues are tougher. Hotter lasers, and more defensive and tough. And so people hate them all, but given their preference might ally with the green eyes to defeat the blue eyes. Thereby making our ultimate goal of defeating ALL the eyes more attainable. And the eyes ultimate battle cones when there are more than 356,462 of them or whatever the number, and they start encroaching each others' 143 sq km territories.

Also this is the birth of a new phrase - "as far as the eye can see.". Sure we said it before. But now it's for real.

shinigami-sidhe said...

Ooh, and we could have red ones two and they could battle the blues and greens while making lightsaber noises!

Andy D. said...

The giant arch here is fine for a fully grown eyeball oppressor. But what about the young ones? I bet the younger sentries have to get trained by first watching over local McDonalds from within the golden arches, sometimes two eyeballs per arch. Then and only then can they hope to one day watch over an entire city.

It's very rigorous training. Plus, too many of the eyeballs end up out of shape and overweight, what with all the Mickey D's loitering and their bullying their way into too many people's orders from the drive through. These younger eyes today just have no DISCIPLINE.

Andy D. said...

What do you think the contact lens and eyewash situation is for an eye of this stature?

Answer: Hubble GOTCHU.

shinigami-sidhe said...

What kind of gastrointestinal tract can a disembodied eyeball HAVE?