Saturday, February 17, 2007

But can it do the New York Times crossword?

So, it turns out that the big, scary quantum computer? Was used to do Sudoku puzzles in its first trial run.

Yeah, the code-cracking apocalypse may have to wait a while.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Faith, what is it good for?

So the Israelis and Palestinians are at it again, at the Temple Mount/Dome of the Rock/Al Aqsa Mosque/whatever again this week.

The Israelis are building a new ramp to their site, the local Palestinians are pissed and... ah, you've heard this story before. Riots, rocks and firebombs, stun grenades and bullets. It's a fucking mess, as usual.

An imaginary man in the sky tells two tribes of people not to worship graven idols. Several thousand years later, it's understandable that they would express their idolatry deep faith by trying to kill each other over a few square meters of dirt and rock. The Palestinians - who within living memory have seen homes bulldozed and swiped - are naturally suspicious of any Israeli construction project next to their stuff. The Israelis - who within living memory came from all over the world and resurrected a dead language to create a new nation on what they consider holy land - are naturally mystified that anyone would be so concerned about a mere place.

This time, I'd love to make an atheist's pilgrimage to the site. I want to get within sight of the whole mess and put up a billboard, and this is what it would read:

Dear Assholes,

You are all retarded by choice. If the invisible man in the sky tells you to kill and die over a scrap of land not fit for keeping a goat on, He is evil, and not worth listening to. Go home to your families.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Quantum Leap!

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Actually, there might be a functioning quantum computer working by next week. A firm in my backyard, in Burnaby, B.C., claims it will demo such a computer next week. If it works, it could mean the end of a whole lot of things.

For example, all Internet commerce.

Theoretically, a functioning quantum computer will be able to perform so many calculations per second that it will be able to (for example) factor very large prime numbers in seconds, instead of in years. Very large prime numbers are the basis for encrypting all the credit card numbers that you and me and everyone we know uses to buy stuff from Amazon. Factor the numbers and you can decrypt all the credit card numbers.

Plus, the computer games would be wicked cool.

The professional nerds on Slashdot are all excited about this. They also know far more than I will ever know about computing, and are spending much time arguing about what it might mean. I say we wait a week.