Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Stick it up your subroutine

Most of you will by now be fully conversant with the sad news courtesy of my friends at BBC online that physicists have started to poke their wart-bedecked and misshapen noses into the world of computing.

One had hoped that by now they would have all blown themselves upon in their dismal experiment in the sewers of Geneva, but they probably need another 20 billion pounds to complete the experiment.

We are now faced with the prospect of replacing the good old “bit” with quantum bits or “qubits”.

You will all be aware that any phrase that contains the word “quantum” is highly suspicious, and that the word quantum is virtually a synonym for “bollocks”.

Those of us (aMToNW) who learned the art of computer programming in the days when you actually had to understand the code in order to get it to work, will have a great fondness for binary code and the simple logic that underlies it. We are now faced with the bollocks bit, or “bobbit” (insert genital mutilation joke here):
A qubit can also represent a "1" or a "0" but crucially can be both at the same time - known as a superposition.

This is a delight. We will now have to go back over our work of the last 30 or so years, and replace all of the “if, then, else” loops with “if, perhaps, sometimes”. Those of you with a jocular disposition will by now be say “well, that’s how the computer that produces my bank statement already works”, and holding your sides until someone comes along with a staple gun.

For those of you who think that I have a silly name, may I introduce Professor Artur Ekert – seems to be a few consonants short of an anagram – who is keen on this baloney. He refers to “massively parallel processing”. I have heard of this before, and even understand something of what is meant by it, alas. My understanding, however, is in spite of rather than because of the mangling of the language. Lines are either parallel or not. You twat.

Professor Stan Williams of HP has a slightly (only slightly) more sensible suggestion, using photons instead of electrons (just join in for a minute and pretend to believe in them), or light instead of electricity. So, dispense with your mouse and keyboard, and dust off the Aldiss lamp in the loft in order to optimise input.

Any room in Grantham for physicists, Reg?

6 comments:

Dave said...

Artur Ekert gives us 'Turret Rake' so he's not completely unagrammatical.

I understand less about physics than you do, so will take your word for the rest of it.

Vicus Scurra said...

How dare you sir! Nobody understands physics less than I. Ask Mr McDermott.

Dave said...

Ah yes, having examined my certificates (leaves space for Ken Dodd-type comment) I see I appear to have acquired an O-level in physics some time in the distant past.

I bow to your superior ignorance.

tom909 said...

This is indeed good news. I was only discussing with the wife this morning, the limitations of the binary system.

Richard said...

By some ironic magic of the bloggerface, the massively witty parallel comment about how Speccy Gates will still be able eff it all up regardless, was lost.

Reg Pither said...

Consider them sent!