1727: "Number of Computers"

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1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby thunk » Wed Aug 31, 2016 4:05 am UTC

Image

alt text: They try to pad their numbers in the annual reports by counting Galileo's redundant systems as multiple computers, but they're falling behind badly either way.

As Randall knows by now, every citizen needs at least five computers on their person at all times.
Yet even if NASA figures this out, it's not going to help them.
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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby rhomboidal » Wed Aug 31, 2016 4:42 am UTC

I predict interplanetary computer-hurling will be an Olympic sport by 2028. (The same way curling became one.)

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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby bondsbw » Wed Aug 31, 2016 4:53 am UTC

I'm beginning to suspect that using Jupiter as a general waste management strategy may not be as efficient as they said it would be.

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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby Farabor » Wed Aug 31, 2016 6:19 am UTC

bondsbw wrote:I'm beginning to suspect that using Jupiter as a general waste management strategy may not be as efficient as they said it would be.


Growing up, I naively thought we'd just use the sun for that.

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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Aug 31, 2016 6:26 am UTC

Farabor wrote:Growing up, I naively thought we'd just use the sun for that.

Turns out it's actually easier to hurl things into Jupiter than it is the sun.
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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby Soupspoon » Wed Aug 31, 2016 6:38 am UTC

thunk wrote:As Randall knows by now, every citizen needs at least five computers on their person at all times.
Yet even if NASA figures this out, it's not going to help them.
On the contrary. Don't send unmanned probes (a couple of computers, at most), but manned ones (ship computer(s) plus five-or-so additional ones per person).

That's obviously their plan to catch up. With minor attrition upon humanity, but then that might well form an additional project aim...

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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby PM 2Ring » Wed Aug 31, 2016 6:55 am UTC

What Pfhorrest said. FWIW, here's an old thread about just how hard it is to throw stuff into the Sun: Sun as final storage for radwaste?.

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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby orthogon » Wed Aug 31, 2016 8:04 am UTC

thunk wrote:As Randall knows by now, every citizen needs at least five computers on their person at all times.


So maybe that famous "prediction" was in fact a real quote after all, but taken way out of context. What people leave out is the preceding sentence in which Watson makes it clear that he's talking about the world market for computers to be crashed into Jupiter.
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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby dtilque » Wed Aug 31, 2016 8:10 am UTC

Do monoliths count in this contest? Weren't there a number of them actually on Jupiter?

How about HAL? I forget what happened to his hardware, so perhaps he doesn't.
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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby CharlieP » Wed Aug 31, 2016 8:13 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
Farabor wrote:Growing up, I naively thought we'd just use the sun for that.

Turns out it's actually easier to hurl things into Jupiter than it is the sun.


Well, yeah. I can't even start to imagine how you'd hurl the sun into Jupiter.
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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby cellocgw » Wed Aug 31, 2016 11:03 am UTC

Two quick thoughts.

1) Hurling computer hardware won't help. What we need to destroy via the HurlOntoPlanet method is Windows10.

2) It's a lot easier to hurl stuff into the chrono-synclastic infandibulum than to send stuff to Jupiter.
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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby cellocgw » Wed Aug 31, 2016 11:03 am UTC

CharlieP wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:
Farabor wrote:Growing up, I naively thought we'd just use the sun for that.

Turns out it's actually easier to hurl things into Jupiter than it is the sun.


Well, yeah. I can't even start to imagine how you'd hurl the sun into Jupiter.


It's all a matter of your frame of reference.
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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby keldor » Wed Aug 31, 2016 11:09 am UTC

cellocgw wrote:
CharlieP wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:
Farabor wrote:Growing up, I naively thought we'd just use the sun for that.

Turns out it's actually easier to hurl things into Jupiter than it is the sun.


Well, yeah. I can't even start to imagine how you'd hurl the sun into Jupiter.


It's all a matter of your frame of reference.


Adjusting the frame of reference yields hurling Jupiter into the Sun. This does not particularily help.

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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby Flumble » Wed Aug 31, 2016 11:48 am UTC

keldor wrote:
cellocgw wrote:
CharlieP wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:
Farabor wrote:Growing up, I naively thought we'd just use the sun for that.

Turns out it's actually easier to hurl things into Jupiter than it is the sun.


Well, yeah. I can't even start to imagine how you'd hurl the sun into Jupiter.


It's all a matter of your frame of reference.


Adjusting the frame of reference yields hurling Jupiter into the Sun. This does not particularily help.

When you're near Jupiter, the Sun is just a tiny glowing dot, like an LED. You can easily hurl an LED into Jupiter, so it should basically be as easy with the Sun. Just be careful, because the Sun is hot.

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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby cellocgw » Wed Aug 31, 2016 11:50 am UTC

keldor wrote:
cellocgw wrote:
CharlieP wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:
Farabor wrote:Growing up, I naively thought we'd just use the sun for that.

Turns out it's actually easier to hurl things into Jupiter than it is the sun.


Well, yeah. I can't even start to imagine how you'd hurl the sun into Jupiter.


It's all a matter of your frame of reference.


Adjusting the frame of reference yields hurling Jupiter into the Sun. This does not particularily help.


OT, sorry: Did you get my PM? I can't figure out whether my PMs are being sent, 'cause they are "stuck" in my Outbox even tho' they appear to be marked as "sent." Anyone else having this problem w/ messages not getting moved into the Sent box?
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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby Whizbang » Wed Aug 31, 2016 12:12 pm UTC

I don't think they appear in the Sent Box until the other party reads/opens them.

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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby PM 2Ring » Wed Aug 31, 2016 12:42 pm UTC

keldor wrote:Adjusting the frame of reference yields hurling Jupiter into the Sun. This does not particularily help.

We've discussed that too. Would it be possible for humans to pollute the sun?
As that thread mentions, if you could somehow collect the entire solar output for 2 billion years or so it would be enough energy to accelerate Jupiter up to 0.5c, and hitting the sun with something like that could have serious consequences. The technical challenge of transferring that energy to Jupiter without ripping it to pieces will be left as an exercise for the reader.

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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby Pied typer » Wed Aug 31, 2016 1:05 pm UTC

Looks like SOMEBODY couldn't find enough paper.

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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby Tova » Wed Aug 31, 2016 1:06 pm UTC

That's the hardest I've laughed at xkcd in a little while.
I kind of dwelled on the graph for a moment before glancing down at the subtitle, and burst into laughter.

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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby another josh » Wed Aug 31, 2016 1:41 pm UTC

I guess we somehow missed Jupiter with Cassini, so as a backup we need to destroy it using Saturn instead.

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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby DanD » Wed Aug 31, 2016 2:55 pm UTC

http://www.schlockmercenary.com/2003-08-03

Moving Jupiter isn't all that hard. And as long as you have the proper reference frame, you're moving the universe, including the sun, around Jupiter.

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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby rmsgrey » Wed Aug 31, 2016 9:45 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
Farabor wrote:Growing up, I naively thought we'd just use the sun for that.

Turns out it's actually easier to hurl things into Jupiter than it is the sun.

Turns out it's about as easy to hurl things into Sirius as it is the sun...

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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby ucim » Wed Aug 31, 2016 10:21 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:Turns out it's about as easy to hurl things into Sirius as it is the sun...
You just have to wait for it.

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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby somitomi » Thu Sep 01, 2016 9:38 am UTC

dtilque wrote:Do monoliths count in this contest? Weren't there a number of them actually on Jupiter?

How about HAL? I forget what happened to his hardware, so perhaps he doesn't.

Are the monoliths computers at all? They don't really seem to be, although they don't really seem to be anything in particular. To be honest, a supercomputer shaped like a monolith quietly playing this, when it was on would be really cool.
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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby RogueCynic » Fri Sep 02, 2016 4:09 am UTC

The monolith on earth caused primitive man to evolve. The one on the moon signaled man's readiness to move to the next stage. I don't remember what the one on Jupiter did, but I think it functioned as a gateway. I read the book.
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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Sep 02, 2016 4:51 am UTC

The second monolith was on Iapetus (the moon of Saturn) in the book, and yeah, it was a "stargate". But not the cool kind with chevrons and a kawoosh.
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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby keldor » Fri Sep 02, 2016 5:13 am UTC

cellocgw wrote:
keldor wrote:
cellocgw wrote:
CharlieP wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:
Farabor wrote:Growing up, I naively thought we'd just use the sun for that.

Turns out it's actually easier to hurl things into Jupiter than it is the sun.


Well, yeah. I can't even start to imagine how you'd hurl the sun into Jupiter.


It's all a matter of your frame of reference.


Adjusting the frame of reference yields hurling Jupiter into the Sun. This does not particularily help.


OT, sorry: Did you get my PM? I can't figure out whether my PMs are being sent, 'cause they are "stuck" in my Outbox even tho' they appear to be marked as "sent." Anyone else having this problem w/ messages not getting moved into the Sent box?


Eh? What? PM things? We have these? Oh! Look! PM things! Neat!

(Seriously, though, I don't think I would have even noticed if you hadn't mentioned it. Not a section of the screen I pay much attention to. So... thank you for mentioning it :D )

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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby keldor » Fri Sep 02, 2016 5:18 am UTC

rmsgrey wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:
Farabor wrote:Growing up, I naively thought we'd just use the sun for that.

Turns out it's actually easier to hurl things into Jupiter than it is the sun.

Turns out it's about as easy to hurl things into Sirius as it is the sun...


Would it actually be easier? I mean, Delta-V wise, certainly, but actually hitting it could be very hard, since the craft would be long dead 50 thousand years later when it's time for final course corrections, not even mentioning the problem of how on earth you'd send a powerful enough communication for it to even pick up at that distance (though I suppose you wouldn't have to if you just automated course corrections).

Of course, dumping a few thousand tons of radioactive waste into interstellar space is a lot like a mouse peeing in the ocean. It really, really doesn't matter. Heck, just dumping it into interplanetary space is like that too.

Going sorta off topic, I've always wondered why you couldn't take radioactive waste, mix it with a lot on concrete, and pump it back into the mine it came out of (or any other conveniently depleted mine for that matter). I mean, it was just as radioactive overall before you took it out of the ground in the first place, wasn't it?

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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby dtilque » Fri Sep 02, 2016 5:36 am UTC

2010, the book, was a sequel to the movie, and it's at Jupiter. As I recall (and it's been quite while since I read it), there's one monolith in orbit and a bunch in Jupiter's atmosphere modifying it so that it ignites.
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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby CharlieP » Fri Sep 02, 2016 7:58 am UTC

keldor wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:
Farabor wrote:Growing up, I naively thought we'd just use the sun for that.

Turns out it's actually easier to hurl things into Jupiter than it is the sun.

Turns out it's about as easy to hurl things into Sirius as it is the sun...


Would it actually be easier? I mean, Delta-V wise, certainly, but actually hitting it could be very hard, since the craft would be long dead 50 thousand years later when it's time for final course corrections, not even mentioning the problem of how on earth you'd send a powerful enough communication for it to even pick up at that distance (though I suppose you wouldn't have to if you just automated course corrections).

Of course, dumping a few thousand tons of radioactive waste into interstellar space is a lot like a mouse peeing in the ocean. It really, really doesn't matter. Heck, just dumping it into interplanetary space is like that too.

Going sorta off topic, I've always wondered why you couldn't take radioactive waste, mix it with a lot on concrete, and pump it back into the mine it came out of (or any other conveniently depleted mine for that matter). I mean, it was just as radioactive overall before you took it out of the ground in the first place, wasn't it?


Yes, but a lot more dilute than when it became useful. How much concrete you gots?
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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby Farabor » Fri Sep 02, 2016 9:30 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
Farabor wrote:Growing up, I naively thought we'd just use the sun for that.

Turns out it's actually easier to hurl things into Jupiter than it is the sun.


So I learned later in life, thus the 'naively' part of the original statement :)

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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby orthogon » Fri Sep 02, 2016 11:26 am UTC

CharlieP wrote:
Farabor wrote:Going sorta off topic, I've always wondered why you couldn't take radioactive waste, mix it with a lot on concrete, and pump it back into the mine it came out of (or any other conveniently depleted mine for that matter). I mean, it was just as radioactive overall before you took it out of the ground in the first place, wasn't it?


Yes, but a lot more dilute than when it became useful. How much concrete you gots?

According to this, Uranium can occur in ore in concentrations up to 2%, and it seems like it would be practical to dilute 50:1 with concrete at reasonable cost. I guess that one problem is that the radioactive waste contains stuff that's way more radioactive than Uranium, i.e. the half-life is short enough for it to emit dangerous amounts of radiation, but long enough for it to be hazardous for a very long time. After all, as the article says, Uranium is "slightly radioactive".
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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Sep 02, 2016 11:39 am UTC

keldor wrote:I mean, it was just as radioactive overall before you took it out of the ground in the first place, wasn't it?

Not really. As ore it is (usually, see Oklo and other 'natural reactors') very much subcritical and just generally fizzling at background rate of the assumed 'random' decomposition of the isotope concerned, moderated by impurities.

After refining, packaging up as a ('safe' to handle) fuel rod/pellet but then 'baking' it in the flood of prompt (but subcritical... Usually!) protons from the working reactor you now have a fizzling mass of diverse isotopes (long and short period half-lives) that even when 'spent' (no longer good for the reactor) is still rather more dangerous than the pre-insertion rod.

But, at the level of my 'expertise', what to do then is not an exact science. Separation of the component bits yields high-activity/short-halflife and low-activity/long-halflife elements of possible use (medical, military, commercial) but brings components and reagents into irradiated contact with the radiaoactive components (as were the 'inert' casing of the fuel rod, for its life in the reactor) adding to the waste to be handled.

(I always thought that perhaps the old materials should be squidged out into a microthin sheet and passed through a 'neutron curtain' straight from the reactor, tuned to activate everything into a quickly re-degrading isotope back into the most quiet and stable form possible (those neutrons frittering away into a 'safe' moderator, picked for equal results. But the calculative complexity behind getting the full gamut of waste properly treated without creating worse by-products by over/under-cokking them... Probably not feasible.)

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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby PM 2Ring » Fri Sep 02, 2016 1:32 pm UTC

keldor wrote:Going sorta off topic, I've always wondered why you couldn't take radioactive waste, mix it with a lot on concrete, and pump it back into the mine it came out of (or any other conveniently depleted mine for that matter). I mean, it was just as radioactive overall before you took it out of the ground in the first place, wasn't it?


No, the radioactivity of radioactive waste can be different to the original ore. Fission creates a wide range of daughter products, many of which have much shorter half-lives than that of uranium. Roughly speaking, there's an inverse relationship between the half-life of a radioactive atom and the energy of the particles it emits when it decays, so an atom with a short half-life produces particles with more energy than an atom with a long half-life. And generally, those high energy particles are more dangerous than low energy ones.

Also, radioactive waste isn't just the spent fuel. Other components of a reactor get bombarded by neutrons, which can convert stable atoms into unstable ones, generally with a short half-life.

Waste products with very short half-lives aren't generally a problem because they decay in the reactor, but those with half-lives measured in the decades or centuries are a concern.

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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby Cougar Allen » Sat Sep 03, 2016 3:43 am UTC

keldor wrote: I mean, it was just as radioactive overall before you took it out of the ground in the first place, wasn't it?


The problem is fission is random. We have no control of where the atom will split. So we're taking uranium (which does happen to be mildly radioactive in the first place, but that's irrelevant) and splitting it - into what? Into everything. It's not like splitting pieces of wood neatly in half - the uranium atoms split randomly into pieces of all sizes, some of which are both very radioactive and long-lived.

I've always wondered why you couldn't take radioactive waste, mix it with a lot on concrete, and pump it back into the mine it came out of (or any other conveniently depleted mine for that matter).


That's basically the idea, except we want to put it in an old salt mine to try to minimize the possibility of contaminating ground water. The trouble is it turns out even salt mines can have water in them.

Also we're not pumping the radioactive concrete directly into the salt mines; we put it in containers so there's some shielding around it which we hope will last a while. It's hard to build any kind of containment that we can be confident will last thousands of years, though, and it will have to.

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Re: 1727: "Number of Computers"

Postby LarryLovage » Fri Sep 09, 2016 11:10 am UTC

Just wanted to say, best use of the logarithmic scale, evah.


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