Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

See the universe's indifferent chaos manifest in this visualization of a shuffling deck of cards

Photo: David C Tomlinson (Getty Images)

Life and all its chance encounters, relationships, and fleeting moments can feel pretty complex and random at times—so much so that it often boggles the mind, you know? As we incorrectly paraphrased and attributed to William Shakespeare (sorry, Sir Walter Scott) back in our high school English essays,“What tangled webs we weave.” Sometimes it feels like it’s all just one big shuffling of life’s deck of cards, and if we could just maybe see how those cards move about, we might be able to get a handle on it all, if only briefly.

As Lady Luck (oh, Luck, you mistress of the night) would have it, YouTuber Nathan Davis recently cooked up a visualization program to demonstrate exactly how cards move through a deck as they are shuffled, depending on varying techniques. Going through all the major hits of shuffling — Classic Riffle! Sloppy Riffle! Overhand! Computerized! — Davis is able to show off card journeys and demonstrate usually how long it can take to get a truly randomized deck. Despite reinforcing our notions of the universe’s utterly indifferent chaos, Davis did employ some pretty colors set to super chill vaporwave-esque muzak, thus rendering life’s uncaring variables kind of soothing for a moment, actually.

“As I shuffled, it occurred to me that not only was I changing the deck, but I was changing my future,” Davis narrates, which, okay sure, even if it’s a little early in the day for us to start thinking cosmically about a game of Go Fish. Too late, we suppose. Then again, we’re not sure if it was necessary for Davis to go through all that trouble illustrating card randomizations and cosmic existentialism...we here at The A.V. Club have always been of the position that the only god we need is the Ace of Spades.


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About the author

Andrew Paul

Andrew Paul's work is recently featured by Rolling Stone, GQ, The Forward, and The Believer, as well as McSweeney's Internet Tendency and TNY's Daily Shouts.