Re: [asa] LHC, TOE, and the limits of knowledge

From: Randy Isaac <randyisaac@comcast.net>
Date: Tue Sep 16 2008 - 19:57:26 EDT

No, Bernie, I think you're missing something fundamental here. While none of
us wants to say "never" and won't, nevertheless your analogy doesn't apply.
Of course, no one imagined a tabletop ENIAC. But not for fundamental
principles, only engineering and technology ones which always will be ripe
for innovation.

In other words, Bernie, we're trying to get you to a point of balance. While
it is true that we can never rule out and should always hope for and
cultivate the possibility of radical new inventions that will totally
revolutionize a field, on the other hand we cannot hold out hope for every
field of possible, hoped-for innovation and claim it might happen based on
analogy with a field like microelectronics. There simply isn't any basis for
a general possibility of such advances.

The migration of the ENIAC to today's laptop is phenomenal. Those of us who
were fortunate enough to have a part in making it happen are even more awed
than the users. But it doesn't serve as a model for every field. In
particular, it doesn't map very well to the field of particle accelerators.
(Maybe this would be a great place to apply the explanatory filter with the
appropriate specified complexity. The probability might just be less than
10^-150. Or perhaps 10^-10. Who knows.)

Besides, where does this discussion lead us? What is the difference whether
we are optimistic or pessimistic about having a tabletop accelerator in the
future? Nothing. Except for the basic process of thinking about what is
possible and what isn't and where to place our energies.

Randy
----- Original Message -----
From: "Dehler, Bernie" <bernie.dehler@intel.com>
To: <asa@calvin.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, September 16, 2008 5:01 PM
Subject: RE: [asa] LHC, TOE, and the limits of knowledge

>" Getting a tabletop TEV
> accelerator is not one where I would recommend putting all your life's
> savings."
>
> I can imagine somebody saying the same thing about a table-top ENIAC when
> the first ENIAC was made. A table-top ENIAC? No way. However, today's
> laptop is much more powerful. Not only was the transistor not yet
> invented, the Eniac didn't even use the binary numeral system, which all
> computers use now. Yes, no way at all to foresee the future. The
> internet is a recent invention that is having an incredible impact on
> society and technology, and could never have been foreseen. That's
> evolution- creating new and wonderful things that can't be imagined in the
> present state.
>
> Eniac info:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ENIAC
>
> The ENIAC held immediate importance. When it was announced in 1946 it was
> heralded in the press as a "Giant Brain." It boasted speeds one thousand
> times faster than electro-mechanical machines, a leap in computing power
> that has never been repeated. This mathematical power, coupled with
> general-purpose programmability, excited scientists and industrialists.
> The inventors promoted the spread of these new ideas by teaching a series
> of lectures on computer architecture.
>
> ...
>
> Besides its speed, the most remarkable thing about ENIAC was its size.
> ENIAC contained 17,468 vacuum tubes, 7,200 crystal diodes, 1,500 relays,
> 70,000 resistors, 10,000 capacitors and around 5 million hand-soldered
> joints. It weighed 30 short tons (27 t), was roughly 8.5 feet by 3 feet by
> 80 feet (2.6 m by 0.9 m by 26 m), took up 680 square feet (63 mē), and
> consumed 150 kW of power.[5]
>
>
> ...Bernie
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On
> Behalf Of Randy Isaac
> Sent: Tuesday, September 16, 2008 11:02 AM
> To: asa@calvin.edu
> Subject: Re: [asa] LHC, TOE, and the limits of knowledge
>
> Those of us who have grown up with the electronics industry have
> practically
> come to believe that the scaling law is a universal entitlement; we merely
> wait for the right invention. In fact, the transistor and the magnetic
> storage cell are two rather unique examples with surprisingly few
> additional
> examples. Does anyone know of another? Will there be unforeseen inventions
> which will trigger new ways of doing things. Absolutely. Can we predict
> what
> they will be? No. But we can have some guesses. Getting a tabletop TEV
> accelerator is not one where I would recommend putting all your life's
> savings. Maybe not even a dime of it. At least until Burgy has his rocket
> that will take us to Betelgeuse and back in one lifetime.
>
> Randy
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "j burg" <hossradbourne@gmail.com>
> To: "Dehler, Bernie" <bernie.dehler@intel.com>
> Cc: "asa" <asa@calvin.edu>
> Sent: Tuesday, September 16, 2008 11:52 AM
> Subject: Re: [asa] LHC, TOE, and the limits of knowledge
>
>
>> >
>>> Just like computers were made of vacuum tubes and people thought that
>>> was
>>> the future- more and more of them, in bigger and bigger rooms. Then the
>>> transistor was invented and re-shaped everything. The first computer
>>> chip
>>> had a few transistors, but now there's billions in there (up to 2
>>> billion
>>> now).
>>>
>> Just like the physics of 1954 (or so) in which it could be shown w/o
>> any doubt that a chemical rocket could never get to the moon.
>>
>> Then Arthur Clarke suggested a multistage design ... .
>>
>> Burgy
>>
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Received on Tue Sep 16 19:57:49 2008

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