Sunday, January 31, 2010

It Sez Here...

One of my favorite newspaper features is “Believe It or Not.” One time, a few years ago, I caught them in a mistake and they promised to correct it. Yeah, right. Pigs will fly.

A recent entry has me puzzled, because I don’t know what it could be about. I just sent a message to the institute to see if they can help me with the answer. Unfortunately, the message just bounced back, so I may never know. The bounce said it wasn’t delivered “because of security policies,” so maybe they did get it and will check it out.

Here is the entry: “Capable of 200 trillion calculations per second – a computer network in Julich, Germany, spent more than a year computing the answer to a single physics question.” Think of a million pies; stack them; think of a thousand of those stacks and that’s a billion; stack them and think of a thousand more – that’s a trillon.

So you have 200 trillion stacks of pies being produced each second and that goes on for a year. That’s a lot of pies; in our case, it’s a lot of calculations. I don’t have the math skills to figure out how many years it would take us to do even one second’s worth of math, much less 200 trillion at the rate of one calculation per second.

200 trillion per second x number of seconds in a year (31.5 million) x how fast we can do them. I figure it comes out to 70 quintillion calculations, but I could be way off. Anyway, I think we live 280 million seconds so, if each calc takes one second, we better have a long family tree. Anybody out there with better math skills?


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