Saturday, June 2, 2012

... Gahdd, Gawd, Godd ....

This blog was originally titled Nine Billion Names & Counting, per the famous story, The Nine Billion Names of God, by Arthur C. Clarke.

We read in wiki, first book of Sand, Chapter Arthur C. Clarke, verse 9,000,000,000:

"The short story tells of a Tibetan lamasery whose monks seek to list all of the names of God, since they believe the Universe was created in order to note all those names, and that once this naming is done, God will bring the Universe to an end. (Rather like a hacker running through every possible password until he gets in.) Three centuries ago, the monks created an alphabet in which they calculated they could encode all the possible names of God, numbering about 9,000,000,000 ("nine billion") and each having no more than nine characters. Writing the names out by hand, as they had been doing, even after eliminating various nonsense combinations, would take another 15,000 years; the monks wish to use modern technology in order to finish this task more quickly.

"They rent a computer capable of printing all the possible permutations (no small feat in 1953 when the story was published), and they hire two Westerners to install and program the machine. The computer operators are skeptical but play along. After three months, as the job nears completion, they fear that the monks will blame the computer, and by extension its operators, when nothing happens. The Westerners delay the operation of the computer so that it will complete its final print run just after their scheduled departure. After their successful departure on ponies, they pause on the mountain path on their way back to the airfield, where a plane is waiting to take them back to civilization. Under a clear starlit night sky they estimate that it must be just about the time that the monks are pasting the final printed names into their holy books. They notice that 'overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out.' "

We're way past nine billion names and still counting because our funny primate minds just know there has to be a secret cipher it can crack open like a ripe coconut.