Author Topic: Evolution and Line Tracing  (Read 110 times)


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Evolution and Line Tracing
« on: February 16, 2011, 05:06:27 AM »

This video depicts 500 people trying to do what should be an extraordinarily simple task: trace over an existing line. But as each person was asked to copy the previous person's effort, the original straight line morphed into a chaotic mess of random squiggles. We're not saying this is exactly like how evolution works, but this is a pretty great depiction of how random errors and mutations can accumulate over time.

Video maker Clement Valla explains how this was created:

"A Sequence of Lines Consecutively Traced by Five Hundred Individuals" is an online drawing tool that lets users do just one thing - trace a line. Each new user only sees the latest line drawn, and can therefore only trace this latest imperfect copy. As the line is reproduced over and over, it changes and evolves - kinks, trembling motions and errors are exaggerated through the process.

It's interesting to see how the line changes over time - it starts to go awry with the very first trace attempt, which veers wildly all over the place. A bunch of tracers are then able to pretty perfectly replicate this first error, but then as more and more inaccurate tracers have a crack at replicating what they see, we get further and further away from the original line.

Here's the video. :D
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Re: Evolution and Line Tracing
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2011, 07:57:36 AM »
It is fascinating to see how the line mutates over time. It reminds me of a sentence game, where a sentence passes from one person to another in a group. The end result is practically the same. After just a few "generations" the original sentence mutates into something completely different. From for example  "Lisa had a bad hair day" to "Lisa has cancer and lost all her hairs".
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Re: Evolution and Line Tracing
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2011, 10:35:03 AM »
It's very interesting to watch as this illustrates variations without selection pressure. If one started with a line being copied but invisibally constraining it on one side it would be interesting to watch as a psudo straight line would appear as the random wandering line would bump up against it. It would also be interesting to see if the movement above the copied line were reduced by 5% compared to movement below the line what sort of pattens would emerge.
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Re: Evolution and Line Tracing
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2011, 11:20:27 AM »
That was really cool. It was bizarre how the shape was faithfully followed for a while, then someone would throw in a curveball and change the shape almost entirely. Whether that was done on purpose or not, i guess we'll never know.

I love simple experiments like that.
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Re: Evolution and Line Tracing
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2011, 02:02:51 PM »
My, my. Can't say this surprises me, when I was taking art class nobody knew how to draw a straight line without a ruler, but it's amazing just how far off this got.

Reminds me of the old "Pass It On" game where you'd whisper something in one persons ear and then they'd whisper it down a long line of people, and the final sentence is completely different that the one originally whispered.
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