I was combing through my "blog fodder" file for something to write about today, and found a link to this article from CNN online back on June 9th of this year: Government Unveils World's Fastest Computer. I went back to the link and found only the headline and highlights still there (I guess the article was past its freshness date), but it was still interesting.
According to the highlights, the world's fastest computer (as of June 9th, 2008, which no doubt means it's already obsolete) is named "Roadrunner," and is capable of sustaining 1,000 trillion operations per second, which is a lot. To put it in perspective, a thousand trillion dollars is probably what Northrop Grumman and Boeing are spending on full-page newspaper ads sniping at each other over who should build the Air Force's next tanker aircraft (if you live in the DC area, you'll understand). Anyhow, the highlights go on to note that researchers from IBM and the Los Alamos National Laboratory worked for six years to build Roadrunner, which will be used "to help maintain the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile."
This is sad.
Not that maintaining the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile without blowing one up occasionally to see if it works is a bad thing, particularly if you own real estate near where it would be blown up. But I can think of a lot of other things such an incredibly powerful computer could be used for...
It could be used to calculate the flow of illegal immigrants across the Mexican border (with the US, that is...Mexico very seriously and violently prevents illegal crossing into Mexico along it's border with Belize and Guatemala);
It could be used to estimate the rate at which the current administration is piling up debt that our grandchildren will inherit;
It could be used to model the long-term effects on real people of the implosion of the financial system caused by greed, arrogance of power, and the systematic dismantling of the regulatory systems that used to keep that greed and arrogance under control;
It could be programmed to play chess well enough to beat the average 6 year old Russian grand master.
Just a few grouchy thoughts, since I'm feeling cranky this morning.
On a brighter note, if you live in the Northern Virginia area near Woodbridge, I can recommend a great restaurant: The Korean Grill at 3131 Golansky Blvd. Agnes and I met our friends Nadja and Yoonie for lunch there yesterday, and really enjoyed it...the prices were reasonable (except for that part about the $1.99 iced tea), the portions just right for lunch, and the food excellent. Strongly recommended, even if you can't go there in the company of three beautiful ladies, as I was lucky enough to do.
Eat your heart out, Mike.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend. More thoughts coming.