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Advance of computer power

  1. Dec 5, 2008 #1

    wolram

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    I am a fan of computers and the advancement of computer power , computer power, (calculations per sec) has improved life for the privileged (any one that can afford technology) but how much has computer power improved the life of those that can not.

    And how has computer power increased our knowledge of the universe?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 5, 2008 #2
    You don't have to own a computer to benefit from it.
     
  4. Dec 5, 2008 #3

    wolram

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    I own a computer, and i learn stuff every day, but how doe's that help people that can not afford technology, how doe's the ability to do millions of calculations per second improve our knowledge of the universe?
     
  5. Dec 5, 2008 #4

    Danger

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    Such things as modeling astronomical phenomena, potential drug actions, CAD/CAM development of new technologies...
     
  6. Dec 5, 2008 #5
    Maybe it's decreased their quality of life:

    Sally is a cashier at a store, as such, she can count basic change out, but the rest of her job concerns none of the addition, subtraction, or multiplication that a cashier traditionally would have known. She only needs to know how to scan objects, not do basic math.... then as a result of that and other society influences (the credit card, the TV, etc.), she loses her remaining math skills, can't do her own taxes (pay someone to do them or take free services), and can't balance her checkbook (in fact, she even wonders: what is a checkbook?).

    As a result, Sally spirals into dept and eventually loses her home, her job, and become a number in the growing computer database on the unemployed. Hence, she and her kids become fodder for the computer models of the economists. why did the family finances fail? Oh... in addition to not knowing how to live within their means, Dad's in jail because he robbed the electronics store down the street from the grocery where Sally worked.

    Joy. what a pretty picture.

    Note however: Sally does know more about how our nation and planet seems to violate entropy and create economic disparity. Hopefully there's life elsewhere reaching a more homogenized state.
     
  7. Dec 5, 2008 #6
    Just let me finish working on this Terminator, and I'll answer your question.
     
  8. Dec 5, 2008 #7

    wolram

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    Modeling but not making them real, how many models end up in the bin? AFAIK computers have not advanced past A Einstein.
     
  9. Dec 5, 2008 #8

    wolram

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    physics girl phd, raises a good point, the one that holds the best algorithm will wield the power to the detriment of the mass.
     
  10. Dec 5, 2008 #9

    russ_watters

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    CAD/CAM was a great example: you owe the design of every electronc or mechanical thing you own to it. You're also defining "computer" much too tightly. Every car has a pretty sophisticated computer on it, for example. Every CD player, dvd player, all tv broadcasts, etc. The food you eat was genetically engineered with the aid of computers.

    There are very few people on earth who'se lives have not been improved by comptuers.
     
  11. Dec 5, 2008 #10
    Does anyone benefit from the stuff you learn other than you?
     
  12. Dec 5, 2008 #11
    Yes, because I didn't knock them over the head today to get gas money.
     
  13. Dec 5, 2008 #12
    There you have it wolram, in a nutshell. Joskoplas takes time out from his busy day to look up sports scores on the internets, finds out that he won $20 in the office pool and some poor computer illiterate gas pump jocky saves money on aspirin. Benefit.
     
  14. Dec 5, 2008 #13

    wolram

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    Cd players, cars, this is exactly what i mean, THESE THINGS ARE TECHNOLODGY things that not every one can afford.
    As yet no one has given any evidence of how computer power has improved our understanding of the universe.
     
  15. Dec 5, 2008 #14

    Danger

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    I believe that I have. You seem to have misunderstood my meaning of the word 'modeling'. Supercomputers are routinely used to model (simulate) what goes on within stars and even entire galaxies. Models are also used to test theories directly related to the eventual realization of fusion reactors, supersonic aircraft, bioengineering, and dozens of other fields that couldn't possibly be done by any number of mathematicians using pencils and paper.
     
  16. Dec 5, 2008 #15

    wolram

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    No misunderstanding Danger, it seems that every one wants to blatantly over look
    what i am saying.

    1, how has computer power increased our knowledge of the universe.
    2 How has computer power helped those that can not afford technology.
     
  17. Dec 5, 2008 #16

    mgb_phys

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    Pretty much all observational astronomy relies on computer data crunching, stellar structure relies on hydrocodes and galaxy formation on N body models. I don't know ho wmuch fundemental particle physics releis on modelling but all the experimental stuff certainly does.

    The cost of doing business reductions allows ordinary people to have bank accounts and telephones - which 50years ago they couldn't simply because the cost of the paperwork to administer them was too high for poor customers to be profitable.
    There are kids in India making a very nice living as programmers, next year it will be poor kids in china and the decade after africa.
     
  18. Dec 5, 2008 #17
    but at some point, an angry mob of torch-wielding villagers will attack your castle.

    you'd better have self-replicating/maintaining machines by that point if you hope to carry on after killing them.
     
  19. Dec 5, 2008 #18

    wolram

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    Some kids in India ?
     
  20. Dec 5, 2008 #19

    mgb_phys

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    There has been a huge boom in IT jobs in India in the last 5-10years. India because it has good schools and they speak English,

    It benefits everyone-
    Indian gets a new rich middle class with well paid jobs
    US companies get software developed for 1/4 the cost of paying american programmers
    American students can avoid having to study nasty hard science subjects and become real estate agents and advertising executives instead.
    And consultants making a killing fixing projects that are a disaster beause they were handed off to the cheapest offshore bidder with no proper management!
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2008
  21. Dec 5, 2008 #20
    in india, you can probably make a decent living off of no more than adsense and referrals. half the people spamming blogs don't seem to speak english, either.
     
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