Photoshop is a fine bitmap editor. Like most of 'em, it's got a "noise" feature, which randomly (or pseudo-randomly, if I may geek out for a brief moment) lightens or darkens pixels in the selected area. The effect is a lot like "snow" on a television. It adds noise to the signal, so to speak.

Well, it's random. This thing generates random (okay, arbitrary, whatever) patterns of pixels. Just like the infinite monkeys with typewriters thing, if you beat a series of random numbers against each other for long enough, damn near anything is liable to fall out -- eventually. If you've got some serious patience.

I've got Photoshop running right now. If I just keep on applying "noise" to this little bitmap here, I'll eventually see the face of Our Lord, or maybe even the BVM.

Think of the picture as a number, where each pixel is a "digit" having a range of values equal to the number of colors available: In a 32 x 32 area, that's 1024 (== 32 * 32) "digits". If that each pixel could only be black or white, then each "digit" has a range of two possible values. This gets us a number of possible unique arrangements of pixels equal to 2 to the 1024th power, which can be (and should be, if you want to do anything useful with it) viewed as a 1024-digit number in base two.

We're not limited to two colors, though. We've got 256 colors. Given a 32 x 32 pixel image using 256-color grayscale (which is what we're working with here in Photoshop), our number is 256 to the 1024th power: The radix (or "base") to the power of the number of "digits", as above. 256 to the 1024th power is a lot. (in the neighborhood of 1 followed by 2466 zeroes, I believe). 1

I'm going to be here for a long time, but you know what, Lord? I'm ready when you are.



1You could express the same number as 2 to the 8192nd power, of course: Eight bits per pixel times 1024 pixels is 8192 bits. In plain English, that's a 8192-digit number in base 2. But if that makes any sense to you, you know it already.


tregoweth: Good question. I don't have Kai's Power Tools.

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