COMPLEXITY AND LIFE: TESSERACTS AND THE “BUTTERFLY EFFECT”

September 21, 2010 at 2:22 am | Posted in Art, Books, Film, Literary, Philosophy, Research, Science & Technology | Leave a comment

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The Tesseract (film): The Butterfly Effect

“The film examines four seemingly unconnected lives brought together through a theft in a Bangkok hotel room. The interactions of an English drug dealer, a British psychologist, a Thai assassin, and an abused 13-year old boy demonstrate that life is so complex that even the smallest events can have enormous, even fatal consequences (i.e. the butterfly effect).”

Storyline

In Bangkok, in a low-budget hotel called “Heaven”, the fate of four guests are interconnected due to a theft in a room: Sean, a paranoid English drug dealer, that is dealing with a powerful local drug lord; the also British psychologist Rosa, who is grieving the loss of her son and making a research with poor children in Thailand; a seriously wounded killer, hired to kill the mobster; and Wit, a thirteen years old abused bellboy, that steals the guests.

In the end, we see that it is almost impossible to control life, and sometimes, a subtle incident may lead to fatality.

The Tesseract, is a 2003 thriller film starring Jonathan Rhys-Meyers. Based on the novel of the same name by Alex Garland, it is directed by Oxide Pang.

The film examines four seemingly unconnected lives brought together through a theft in a Bangkok hotel room. The interactions of an English drug dealer, a British psychologist, a Thai assassin, and an abused 13-year old boy demonstrate that life is so complex that even the smallest events can have enormous, even fatal consequences (i.e. the butterfly effect).

Plot

Sean, a runner for a drug gang, has checked into room 303 at the seedy, rundown Heaven Hotel in Bangkok, to await arrival of a package of heroin. Another guest is Rosa, psychologist who is researching slum children, on the floor below (room 202). In the next room, 203, is Lita, a female assassin who is waiting to intercept the package Sean is waiting for. Tying them all together, is the 13-year-old bellboy, Wit, a streetwise, light-fingered kid.

Cast

· Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Sean

· Saskia Reeves as Rosa

· Alexander Rendel as Wit

· Carlo Nanni as Roy

· Lena Christenchen as Lita

Directed by Oxide Pang

Produced by Takashi Kusube

Naoki Kai Soo-Jun Bae

Jun Hara Koichi Shibuya

Written by Alex Garland (novel)

Oxide Pang

Patrick Neate

Starring Jonathan Rhys-Meyers

Saskia Reeves

Cinematography Deecha Seemanta

Editing by Oxide Pang

Piyapan Chooppetch

Distributed by Momentum Pictures

Running time 92 minutes

Country Japan/Thailand/UK Language English/Thai

Tesseract: Geometry

In geometry, the tesseract, also called an 8-cell or regular octachoron, is the four-dimensional analog of the cube. The tesseract is to the cube as the cube is to the square. Just as the surface of the cube consists of 6 square faces, the hypersurface of the tesseract consists of 8 cubical cells. The tesseract is one of the six convex regular 4-polytopes.

A generalization of the cube to dimensions greater than three is called a “hypercube“, “n-cube” or “measure polytope“. The tesseract is the four-dimensional hypercube, or 4-cube.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word tesseract was coined and first used in 1888 by Charles Howard Hinton in his book A New Era of Thought, from the Greek “τέσσερεις ακτίνες” (“four rays”), referring to the four lines from each vertex to other vertices. Some people have called the same figure a tetracube, and also simply a hypercube (although the term hypercube is also used with dimensions greater than 4).

Literature and art

Artists and writers have used the geometry of the tesseract to produce surrealistic effects, for instance in Salvador Dalí‘s Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus), and Robert A. Heinlein‘s classic science fiction short story “—And He Built a Crooked House—” (1940) in which an earthquake causes a house built in the shape of the net of a tesseract to fold into an actual tesseract.

In the film Flatland: The Movie a model of a tesseract at the end is used to imply the existence of a physical fourth dimension to the inhabitants of the third.

Greg Bear‘s short science fiction story “Tangents” involves multidimensional visualization and suggests circumstances in which 4-dimensional objects pass through our 3-space.

Madeleine L’Engle in the science fiction-fantasy novel A Wrinkle In Time uses a tesseract as a way of traveling. The easiest way to understand how a tesseract would help with travel is by analogy. Imagine a two dimensional creature, stuck on the surface of a three dimensional cube. Traveling across the surface of the cube would take more time than cutting through the center of the cube, as a three dimensional creature might. Traveling by “tesser” or “wrinkling” allows the children of the book to be transported to places unreachable by normal means of travel.

A tesseract is the basis of the movie Cube 2: Hypercube in which a group of people have to attempt to escape from one.

Others, however, have used the word as a shorthand for something strange or unknown without any reference to the actual figure, as in Alex Garland‘s novel The Tesseract.

References

Footnotes

1. “Unfolding an 8-cell”. http://unfolding.apperceptual.com/.

Notations

· H. S. M. Coxeter, Regular Polytopes, 3rd. ed., Dover Publications, 1973. ISBN 0-486-61480-8.

Links

· Weisstein, Eric W., “Tesseract” from MathWorld.

· Olshevsky, George, Tesseract at Glossary for Hyperspace.

o 2. Convex uniform polychora based on the tesseract (8-cell) and hexadecachoron (16-cell) – Model 10, George Olshevsky.

· The Tesseract Ray traced images with hidden surface elimination. This site provides a good description of methods of visualizing 4D solids.

· Der 8-Zeller (8-cell) Marco Möller’s Regular polytopes in R4 (German)

· WikiChoron: Tesseract

· HyperSolids is an open source program for the Apple Macintosh (Mac OS X and higher) which generates the five regular solids of three-dimensional space and the six regular hypersolids of four-dimensional space.

· Hypercube 98 via the Internet archive A Windows program that displays animated hypercubes, by Rudy Rucker

· ken perlin’s home page A way to visualize hypercubes, by Ken Perlin

· Some Notes on the Fourth Dimension includes very good animated tutorials on several different aspects of the tesseract, by Davide P. Cervone

· Tesseract animation with hidden volume elimination

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