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Old 12-23-2012, 04:17 AM   #1
William Gaatjes
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Default An interesting view on parallel computing.

For those that like cpu's and parallel execution of threads (swapping threads while waiting for results, might like this small excerpt from this book from Richard Feynman : Surely you are joking.

Funny view on how to solve a problem.
It is all about the colored cards...

Take note, i did not edit out some parts of the text (would have made it easier to keep the focus on the computing problem).
Quote:
Another kind of problem I worked on was this. We had to do lots of calculations, and we did them on Marchant calculating machines. By the
way, just to give you an idea of what Los Alamos was like: We had these Marchant computers-- hand calculators with numbers. You push them, and
they multiply divide, add, and so on, but not easy like they do now. They were mechanical gadgets, failing often, and they had to be sent back to the
factory to be repaired. Pretty soon you were running out of machines. A few of us started to take the covers off. (We weren't supposed to. The rules
read: "You take the covers off, we cannot be responsible . . .") So we took the covers off and we got a nice series of lessons on how to fix them, and
we got better and better at it as we got more and more elaborate repairs. When we got something too complicated, we sent it back to the factory but
we'd do the easy ones and kept the things going. I ended up doing all the computers and there was a guy in the machine shop who took care of
typewriters.
Anyway we decided that the big problem--which was to figure out exactly what happened during the bomb's implosion, so you can figure out
exactly how much energy was released and so on--required much more calculating than we were capable of. A clever fellow by the name of Stanley
Frankel realized that it could possibly he done on IBM machines. The IBM company had machines for business purposes, adding machines called
tabulators for listing sums, and a multiplier that you put cards in and it would take two numbers from a card and multiply them. There were also
collators and sorters and so on.
So Frankel figured out a nice program. If we got enough of these machines in a room, we could take the cards and put them through a cycle.
Everybody who does numerical calculations now knows exactly what I'm talking about, but this was kind of a new thing then--mass production with
machines. We had done things like this on adding machines. Usually you go one step across, doing everything yourself. But this was different--where
you go first to the adder, then to the multiplier, then to the adder, and so on. So Frankel designed this system and ordered the machines from the IBM
company because we realized it was a good way of solving our problems.
We needed a man to repair the machines, to keep them going and everything. And the army was always going to send this fellow they had, but
he was always delayed. Now, we always were in a hurry. Everything we did, we tried to do as quickly as possible. In this particular case, we worked
out all the numerical steps that the machines were supposed to do--multiply this, and then do this, and subtract that. Then we worked out the program,
but we didn't have any machine to test it on. So we set up this room with girls in it. Each one had a Marchant: one was the multiplier, another was the
adder. This one cubed--all she did was cube a number on an index card and send it to the next girl.
We went through our cycle this way until we got all the bugs out. It turned out that the speed at which we were able to do it was a hell of a lot
faster than the other way where every single person did all the steps.
We got speed with this system that was the predicted speed for the IBM machine.
The only difference is that the IBM machines didn't get tired and could work three shifts. But the girls got tired after a while.
Anyway we got the bugs out during this process, and finally the machines arrived, but not the repairman. These were some of the most
complicated machines of the technology of those days, big things that came partially disassembled, with lots of wires and blueprints of what to do.
We went down and we put them together, Stan Frankel and I and another fellow, and we had our troubles. Most of the trouble was the big shots
coming in all the time and saying, "You're going to break something!"
We put them together, and sometimes they would work, and sometimes they were put together wrong and they didn't work. Finally I was
working on some multiplier and I saw a bent part inside, but I was afraid to straighten it because it might snap off--and they were always telling us
we were going to bust something irreversibly. When the repairman finally got there, he fixed the machines we hadn't got ready and everything was
going. But he had trouble with the one that I had had trouble with. After three days he was still working on that one last machine.
I went down. I said, "Oh, I noticed that was bent."
He said, "Oh, of course. That's all there is to it!" Bend! It was all right. So that was it.
Well, Mr. Frankel, who started this program, began to suffer from the computer disease that anybody who works with computers now knows
about. It's a very serious disease and it interferes completely with the work. The trouble with computers is you play with them. They are so wonderful.
You have these switches--if it's an even number you do this, if it's an odd number you do that --and pretty soon you can do more and more elaborate
things if you are clever enough, on one machine.
After a while the whole system broke down. Frankel wasn't paying any attention; he wasn't supervising anybody. The system was going very,
very slowly--while he was sitting in a room figuring out how to make one tabulator automatically print arc-tangent X, and then it would start and it
would print columns and then bitsi, bitsi, bitsi, and calculate the arc-tangent automatically by integrating as it went along and make a whole table in
one operation.
Absolutely useless. We had tables of arc-tangents. But if you've ever worked with computers, you understand the disease--the delight in being
able to see how much you can do. But he got the disease for the first time, the poor fellow who invented the thing.
I was asked to stop working on the stuff I was doing in my group and go down and take over the IBM group, and I tried to avoid the disease.
And, although they had done only three problems in nine months, I had a very good group.
The real trouble was that no one had ever told these fellows anything. The army had selected them from all over the country for a thing called
Special Engineer Detachment-- clever boys from high school who had engineering ability. They sent them up to Los Alamos. They put them in
barracks. And they would tell them nothing.
Then they came to work, and what they had to do was work on IBM machines--punching holes, numbers that they didn't understand. Nobody
told them what it was. The thing was going very slowly. I said that the first thing there has to be is. that these technical guys know what we're doing.
Oppenheimer went and talked to the security and got special permission so I could give a nice lecture about what we were doing, and they were all
excited: "We're fighting a war! We see what it is!" They knew what the numbers meant. If the pressure came out higher, that meant there was more
energy released, and so on and so on. They knew what they were doing.
Complete transformation! They began to invent ways of doing it better. They improved the scheme. They worked at night. They didn't need
supervising in the night; they didn't need anything. They understood everything; they invented several of the programs that we used.
So my boys really came through, and all that had to be done was to tell them what it was. As a result, although it took them nine months to do
three problems before, we did nine problems in three months, which is nearly ten times as fast.
But one of the secret ways we did our problems was this. The problems consisted of a hunch of cards that had to go through a cycle. First add,
then multiply --and so it went through the cycle of machines in this room, slowly, as it went around and around. So we figured a way to put a different
colored set of cards through a cycle too, but out of phase. We'd do two or three problems at a time.

But this got us into another problem. Near the end of the war, for instance, just before we had to make a test in Albuquerque, the question was:
How much energy would be released? We had been calculating the release from various designs, but we hadn't computed for the specific design that
was ultimately used. So Bob Christy came down and said, "We would like the results for how this thing is going to work in one month"--or some
very short time, like three weeks.
I said, "It's impossible."
He said, "Look, you're putting out nearly two problems a month. It takes only two weeks per problem, or three weeks per problem."
I said, "I know. It really takes much longer to do the problem, but we're doing them in parallel. As they go through, it takes a long time and
there's no way to make it go around faster."
He went out, and I began to think. Is there a way to make it go around faster? What if we did nothing else on the machine, so nothing else was
interfering? I put a challenge to the boys on the blackboard--CAN WE DO IT? They all start yelling, "Yes, we'll work double shifts, we'll work
overtime," all this kind of thing. "We'll try it. We'll try it!"
And so the rule was: All other problems out. Only one problem and just concentrate on this one. So they started to work.
My wife, Arlene, was ill with tuberculosis--very ill indeed. It looked as if something might happen at any minute, so I arranged ahead of time
with a friend of mine in the dormitory to borrow his car in an emergency so I could get to Albuquerque quickly. His name was Klaus Fuchs. He was
the spy, and he used his automobile to take the atomic secrets away from Los Alamos down to Santa Fe. But nobody knew that.
The emergency arrived. I borrowed Fuchs's car and picked up a couple of hitchhikers, in case something happened with the car on the way to
Albuquerque. Sure enough, just as we were driving into Santa Fe, we got a flat tire. The two guys helped me change the tire, and just as we were
leaving Santa Fe, another tire went flat. We pushed the car into a nearby gas station.
The gas station guy was repairing somebody else's car, and it was going to take a while before he could help us. I didn't even think to say
anything, but the two hitchhikers went over to the gas station man and told him the situation. Soon we had a new tire (but no spare--tires were hard to
get during the war).
About thirty miles outside Albuquerque a third tire went flat, so I left the car on the road and we hitchhiked the rest of the way. I phoned a garage
to go out and get the car while I went to the hospital to see my wife.
Arlene died a few hours after I got there. A nurse came in to fill out the death certificate, and went out again. I spent a little more time with my
wife. Then I looked at the clock I had given her seven years before, when she had first become sick with tuberculosis. It was something which in
those days was very nice: a digital clock whose numbers would change by turning around mechanically. The clock was very delicate and often
stopped for one reason or another--I had to repair it from time to time--but I kept it going for all those years. Now, it had stopped once more--at 9:22,
the time on the death certificate!
I remembered the time I was in my fraternity house at MIT when the idea came into my head completely out of the blue that my grandmother
was dead. Right after that there was a telephone call, just like that. It was for Pete Bernays-- my grandmother wasn't dead. So I remembered that, in
case somebody told me a story that ended the other way. I figured that such things can sometimes happen by luck--after all, my grandmother was
very old--although people might think they happened by some sort of supernatural phenomenon.
Arlene had kept this clock by her bedside all the time she was sick, and now it stopped the moment she died. I can understand how a person who
half believes in the possibility of such things, and who hasn't got a doubting mind--especially in a circumstance like that--doesn't immediately try to
figure out what happened, but instead explains that no one touched the clock, and there was no possibility of explanation by normal phenomena. The
clock simply stopped. It would become a dramatic example of these fantastic phenomena.
I saw that the light in the room was low, and then I remembered that the nurse had picked up the clock and turned it toward the light to see the
face better. That could easily have stopped it.
I went for a walk outside. Maybe I was fooling myself, but I was surprised how I didn't feel what I thought people would expect to feel under the
circumstances. I wasn't delighted, but I didn't feel terribly upset, perhaps because I had known for seven years that something like this was going to
happen.
I didn't know how I was going to face all my friends up at Los Alamos. I didn't want people with long faces talking to me about it. When I got
back (yet another tire went flat on the way), they asked me what happened.
"She's dead. And how's the program going?"
They caught on right away that I didn't want to moon over it.
(I had obviously done something to myself psychologically: Reality was so important--I had to understand what really happened to Arlene,
physiologically--that I didn't cry until a number of months later, when I was in Oak Ridge. I was walking past a department store with dresses in the
window, and I thought Arlene would like one of them. That was too much for me.)
When I went back to work on the calculation program, I found it in a mess: There were white cards, there were blue cards, there were yellow
cards, and I started to say, "You're not supposed to do more than one problem--only one problem!" They said, "Get out, get out, get out. Wait --and
we'll explain everything."
So I waited, and what happened was this. As the cards went through, sometimes the machine made a mistake, or they put a wrong number in.
What we used to have to do when that happened was to go back and do it over again. But they noticed that a mistake made at some point in one cycle
only affects the nearby numbers, the next cycle affects the nearby numbers, and so on. It works its way through the pack of cards. If you have fifty
cards and you make a mistake at card number thirty-nine, it affects thirty-seven, thirty-eight, and thirty-nine. The next, card thirty-six, thirty-seven,
thirty-eight, thirty-nine, and forty. The next time it spreads like a disease.
So they found an error back a way, and they got an idea. They would only compute a small deck of ten cards around the error. And because ten
cards could he put through the machine faster than the deck of fifty cards, they would go rapidly through with this other deck while they continued
with the fifty cards with the disease spreading. But the other thing was computing faster, and they would seal it all up and correct it. Very clever.
That was the way those guys worked to get speed. There was no other way. If they had to stop to try to fix it, we'd have lost time. We couldn't
have got it. That was what they were doing.
Of course, you know what happened while they were doing that. They found an error in the blue deck. And so they had a yellow deck with a
little fewer cards; it was going around faster than the blue deck. Just when they are going crazy--because after they get this straightened out, they
have to fix the white deck
--the boss comes walking in.
"Leave us alone," they say. I left them alone and everything came out. We solved the problem in time and that's the way it was.
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Last edited by William Gaatjes; 12-23-2012 at 04:22 AM. Reason: Made an error copying text, some words were not copied.
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Old 12-23-2012, 05:23 AM   #2
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yes i agree it's very interesting
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Old 12-23-2012, 06:22 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nemesismk2 View Post
yes i agree it's very interesting
you didn't read the whole thing
i stopped when he started talking about his wife or flat tires...but i read the last part and think i got the point.
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Old 12-23-2012, 09:02 AM   #4
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I read the whole thing and found all of it interesting. I wish I was more involved with the industry. OoO seems like one of those things that would keep you up at night thinking of creative ways to do things.
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Old 12-23-2012, 09:13 AM   #5
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Wall of text... please fix and maybe more people might consider reading it
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Old 12-23-2012, 09:38 AM   #6
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drugs are bad mmkay
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Old 12-23-2012, 10:14 AM   #7
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Gave up reading it...
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Old 12-23-2012, 10:31 AM   #8
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Thank you, William. Great piece.

@ShintaiDK. Come back when you have time. It's a great read.
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Old 12-23-2012, 02:36 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William Gaatjes View Post
For those that like cpu's and parallel execution of threads (swapping threads while waiting for results, might like this small excerpt from this book from Richard Feynman : Surely you are joking.

Funny view on how to solve a problem.
It is all about the colored cards...

Take note, i did not edit out some parts of the text (would have made it easier to keep the focus on the computing problem).
Interesting that in the end when they really needed to boost single-threaded performance to get a single compute job done asap they still resorted to parallelism for managing the ECC aspects of the calculations.

Obviously they would have been better off had they implemented an algorithm within the computations themselves, as hardware ECC does now, instead of relying on duplicity of computations to get the correct result in the end.

Two things utterly amaze me about that era - the fact they successfully designed and built functioning atomic weapon without the aid of anything remotely as sophisticated as a modern desktop computer (or calculator for that matter), and the fact that they were able to design, build and carry-out moon landings with computer (and engineering) technology that was only slightly more advanced than what they created atomic bombs with.

That took real brains and intelligence, to do what they did with computers that played such a minor role overall. I doubt we have the technical competence these days to accomplish the same if you took today's engineers and physicists and took away all their computer/software toys and tasked them with accomplishing the same.

I know I couldn't. My education prepared me to rely on computers to do my thinking for me, push a button and wait for the answer type solutions. My education is basically the error-correction factor in the calculation, if the computer answer doesn't seem right then I'm expected to have some sense of this before the bridge is actually built and falls down. But give me a stack of paper and a pencil and ask me to design the bridge (or IC) by hand and I would be totally useless.

Also the story reminds me very much of what was alive and well some 30 yrs later in what was dubbed "sneakernet" where a cluster of computers were a virtual cluster by virtue of some hapless individual who would physically walk between computers in the appropriate cycle to remove and replace floppy disks of data between each compute node.
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Old 12-23-2012, 03:12 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Idontcare View Post
That took real brains and intelligence, to do what they did with computers that played such a minor role overall. I doubt we have the technical competence these days to accomplish the same if you took today's engineers and physicists and took away all their computer/software toys and tasked them with accomplishing the same.

I know I couldn't. My education prepared me to rely on computers to do my thinking for me, push a button and wait for the answer type solutions. My education is basically the error-correction factor in the calculation, if the computer answer doesn't seem right then I'm expected to have some sense of this before the bridge is actually built and falls down. But give me a stack of paper and a pencil and ask me to design the bridge (or IC) by hand and I would be totally useless.
Actually you could. Modern programs are far more complicated than anything these individuals with this tools could produce. It took them a long time to do quite simple things on those computers, and the process of finding and fixing defects took a lot longer, but its a similar process today. Try for example programming in Edsac assembler (you can get an emulator) and you'll find it doesn't take a lot of additional knowledge to get going. But you'll find its quite slow and error prone.

The old hardware designs before transistors were always less than 30,000 switches or so, because beyond that the failure rate was just too high. This sort of hardware is surprisingly easy to design on paper, I did infact design a 8 bit processor in an exam using only pen and paper. Its the sort of thing a computer science graduate is capable of doing in a few hours.

Most modern programmers don't have to deal with these low level problems anymore, which improves our productivity for the actual problem at hand. But that doesn't mean they can't.
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Old 12-23-2012, 03:35 PM   #11
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Actually you could. Modern programs are far more complicated than anything these individuals with this tools could produce. It took them a long time to do quite simple things on those computers, and the process of finding and fixing defects took a lot longer, but its a similar process today. Try for example programming in Edsac assembler (you can get an emulator) and you'll find it doesn't take a lot of additional knowledge to get going. But you'll find its quite slow and error prone.

The old hardware designs before transistors were always less than 30,000 switches or so, because beyond that the failure rate was just too high. This sort of hardware is surprisingly easy to design on paper, I did infact design a 8 bit processor in an exam using only pen and paper. Its the sort of thing a computer science graduate is capable of doing in a few hours.

Most modern programmers don't have to deal with these low level problems anymore, which improves our productivity for the actual problem at hand. But that doesn't mean they can't.
That is a good point, regarding the fact that today's engineering challenges are vastly more complex than those of 60yrs ago so of course we need computers to do today's challenges.

Yeah I suppose the computing challenge of designing a 30k xtor IC is probably within the grasp of a modern design engineer, true that.

But building an atomic bomb? Look at how much technology Iran has access to, despite the embargo, and yet they are still going to spend more money and more years attempting to build their first atomic bomb in comparison to the years it took the Allied forces in the 40's (or Russia for that matter).

I like to think the difference comes down to the expertise of the engineers and mathematicians, and not the prevalence of technology itself.

The moon landings are another example, given modern compute technology one would think getting to the moon is easily within the technological grasp of any country today that currently has the inflation-adjusted GDP of the USA in 1960. And yet it is a feat that has yet to be duplicated, even by ourselves with our access to modern engineering tools and compute.

The difference is the people IMO. There was just a different class of people working on those projects then. As the cliche goes, they were "made of the right stuff".
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Old 12-23-2012, 04:07 PM   #12
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But building an atomic bomb? Look at how much technology Iran has access to, despite the embargo, and yet they are still going to spend more money and more years attempting to build their first atomic bomb in comparison to the years it took the Allied forces in the 40's (or Russia for that matter).

I like to think the difference comes down to the expertise of the engineers and mathematicians, and not the prevalence of technology itself.
Science is a deeply collaborative thing. It took the Allies 10's of years to build such bombs using all the science and research of many countries. The problem for Iran is that the knowledge of how to make efficient gas centrifuges is not public knowledge. There is a lot of insight that goes into engineering them and it was done with a large number of scientists and engineers doing research in that area. Iran doesn't have a lot of Uranium within its borders either, which means its going to take a lot of time to find and mine it, since no one will sell it to them. Iran will produce weapon grade uranium and likely a dual stage plutonium bomb soon if they haven't done so already, but getting the fuel made is what takes time. These were talented engineers that made the first bomb but such talent still exists today and in greater quantity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Idontcare View Post
The moon landings are another example, given modern compute technology one would think getting to the moon is easily within the technological grasp of any country today that currently has the inflation-adjusted GDP of the USA in 1960. And yet it is a feat that has yet to be duplicated, even by ourselves with our access to modern engineering tools and compute.

The difference is the people IMO. There was just a different class of people working on those projects then. As the cliche goes, they were "made of the right stuff".
No body wants to get to the moon. But think about the recent entirely automated space station resupplies from a commercial company where the software is written by John Carmack, a man more famous for Quake. He launched into space with less budget than the USA, much more efficient rockets and entirely computer controlled container ships. Quite simply his solution is vastly superior to what Nasa has produced for a fraction of the cost, without the risk of human lives being lost.

It doesn't take much computer resources to get into space, it simply requires a decent reliability record and durability. NASA has been outdone by modern advances on many fronts now, so much so you can launch a satellite for considerably less money than ever before. But put simply the cost of going to the moon isn't worth it.

I just can't accept that modern scientists and engineers and anything but better than their predecessors for a simple reason - we know everything they knew and more. Science continues to improve and get better, as does engineering. This isn't getting worse and people aren't getting dumber, on the contrary we have more highly educated and skilled individuals than in any other time in history, and they are making increasing more impressive devices and breakthroughs, breakthroughs our predecessors couldn't have even conceived.
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Old 12-23-2012, 04:21 PM   #13
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Very interesting, thx for the read

We can still do everything we make today without computers, it will only take more time and more money. I can design the Bridge without the Computer, it will take me much more time and thus more money but eventually i can design it. People making ships 2500 year ago, and my dad would design a bulk carrier without computers 30-40 years ago. It would take way less time for a naval architect to design the same ship today with the aid of computers but he could also do it without.

As for the moon landing,
There are two factors in my opinion preventing that, there is no reason/goal to spend the money going to the moon today and the second, we still using the same technology as we did 50 years ago, liquid fuel and rockets.
50 years have past and we as Humanity haven't invested in new propulsion technologies like Nuclear or Plasma etc.
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Old 12-23-2012, 04:38 PM   #14
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Also the story reminds me very much of what was alive and well some 30 yrs later in what was dubbed "sneakernet" where a cluster of computers were a virtual cluster by virtue of some hapless individual who would physically walk between computers in the appropriate cycle to remove and replace floppy disks of data between each compute node.
I recall playing in my university's computer center some evenings in the spring of 1968. To do our computing jobs we replicated what the guys did on the day shift: a stack of Fortran punch cards was placed into the punch card reader. We would dismount a 2-foot tape reel, walk it over to the compiler -- a separate machine -- where we mounted the reel on the left spindle and the machine compiled the Fortran into Autocoder. We would then take off the right reel and walk it over to the main computer (I can't remember what it was; it was now the second string machine: the IBM 360 was brand new and we didn't touch it) where it would do our calculations. We would then dismount the output reel and carry it over to the line printer, mount it and watch to see if our programs ran . . . or not.

We thought it was amazing. I used formulas from The Universe and Dr. Einstein and some basic algebra to calculate various examples of relativistic time dilation, the effect of acceleration on arrival times, etc. My friends used the line printer to print out pages of EAT EAT EAT, which they thought was hilarious (well, we were late teenagers).

Fun.
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Old 12-23-2012, 04:39 PM   #15
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we as Humanity haven't invested in new propulsion technologies like Nuclear or Plasma etc.
yeah, there are all kinds of new propulsion systems. like the one that uses cylinders made for land and sea use. or electromagnetic propulsions, or magnetized-beam plasma propulsion which is still being worked on i believe... Plenty of investments are made, likely the main problem is the money to use them to get to the moon or they are not ready yet or capable to do that specific type of travel. However point is it appears there is plenty of investments being made all over the world, but many governments can't afford to invest too much these days leaving it to others to do so.
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Old 12-23-2012, 05:34 PM   #16
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The difference is the people IMO. There was just a different class of people working on those projects then. As the cliche goes, they were "made of the right stuff".


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Old 12-24-2012, 11:30 AM   #17
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But building an atomic bomb? Look at how much technology Iran has access to, despite the embargo, and yet they are still going to spend more money and more years attempting to build their first atomic bomb in comparison to the years it took the Allied forces in the 40's (or Russia for that matter).
The funny thing about the situation with Iran and other modern states and nuclear weapons is that the primary problem they have is completely different than the primary problem the guys in the Manhattan project had. In the book, Feynman was talking about having to worry about detonating the atmosphere of the earth ala nuclear fusion via the nuclear fission of the atom bomb and other stuff like that. But that isn't even an issue that Iran has to deal with. They don't have to do the calculations at all for stuff like that because they already know the answer. The answer is that the atmosphere doesn't detonate.

You worry that you rely on computers to do the thinking for you. Maybe so. But Iran also has the same advantage you have in that they don't need to do a lot of thinking. The general knowledge of how to build a nuke is actually pretty widely known. You just have to get the specifics on the chain reaction and etc to figure the whole puzzle out.

The only reason that Iran and other countries has such big challenge developing nukes isn't because it's hard for them to figure out the theoretical physics. It's because their industry is so crappy that they can't acquire the raw materials (enriched uranium). On the other hand, back during the manhattan project, the focus was always on the physics because that was what was new back then and that was the real challenge. Yes, it took more money to fund the industrial side than to fund the theoretical side but handling the industrial side of production for a nuke back then wasn't even a big deal because the US's industrial plant was more than adequate for the task. Feynman talks about going to oversee the industrial production of the atom bomb in the book but it wasn't a big deal. The big deal was the theoretical work back at white sands missile base.
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Old 12-24-2012, 12:10 PM   #18
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Very interesting, thanks for sharing.

Feynman was really brilliant and is often listed as a major figure that physicists respect and aspire to the level of. I want to read that book now ...

It's also interesting because it kind of demonstrates that weather you are using modern computers, old punchcard computers, or calculators, the process by which problems are broken down and solved is a key in getting it done as quickly as possible.
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Old 12-24-2012, 05:28 PM   #19
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Thank you, William. Great piece.

@ShintaiDK. Come back when you have time. It's a great read.
Theres a reason i excelled in math and not language, this is too much information/noise, brain bails out.

edit. but reading the comments i gather that there was no big paradigm shift in "the wall of text" with regards to concurrent computation. Right?
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Old 12-24-2012, 05:56 PM   #20
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Theres a reason i excelled in math and not language, this is too much information/noise, brain bails out.

edit. but reading the comments i gather that there was no big paradigm shift in "the wall of text" with regards to concurrent computation. Right?
No shift, that was the point. The reality of today is a reality that transcends time for fundamental reasons and as such it was the reality "back in the day" as well - humans are still humans and we go about solving our problems today the same as we attempted to do 60 yrs ago.
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Old 12-24-2012, 06:07 PM   #21
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Thx, and

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No shift.
Damn.
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Old 12-26-2012, 03:06 AM   #22
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Very interesting, thanks for sharing.

Feynman was really brilliant and is often listed as a major figure that physicists respect and aspire to the level of. I want to read that book now ...

It's also interesting because it kind of demonstrates that weather you are using modern computers, old punchcard computers, or calculators, the process by which problems are broken down and solved is a key in getting it done as quickly as possible.
Indeed. When we at work get interns, and they get stuck for whatever reason, the first hint i give them is to break down the problem into smaller problems. These smaller problems are then easier to fix. The challenge is of course to set the rules for the segmenting of the problem into smaller problems. Therein is hidden ones imagination and intelligence. Also, when one does not have a clue, we always tell them to start somewhere and just analyze to gather data as a means to really understand the problem. Switching back and forth from a broad view about a situation to a more detailed specific view. To find the cause and effect relationship.

At the moment, we have extremely smart interns. I can come along because of my experience but they are half my age and are faster problem solvers then i ever could do at that age.
They enjoy the technique and the problem solving. They do not nag or blame others. They just see a problem and want to solve it.
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Old 12-26-2012, 06:01 AM   #23
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He can't write worth a damn. Incoherent mess of words.
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Old 12-30-2012, 11:38 AM   #24
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He can't write worth a damn. Incoherent mess of words.
I do not agree. Just dissect the text into sections and it is an easy read.
You just need to keep track of the subject he (Feynman) is referring to.
Of course he was not a writer such as NuclearNed. Feynman wrote it down as if he is speaking towards the reader directly. At least that is how i experienced the book.
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Old 12-30-2012, 02:26 PM   #25
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..They enjoy the technique and the problem solving. They do not nag or blame others. They just see a problem and want to solve it.
- Thats a rare quality, something i suspect that many looses with age. That "blaming finger" is a curse in our industry.
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