Thoughts with Richard Bleil
The inspiration for this post is pretty weak, so I hope you’ll forgive me if it’s not one of my better ones. Of course, more than 1600 posts later, I guess it’ll be hard to beat my best posts. After all, even a broken clock is right twice a day. It’s hard to write every day for four years and not have at least a few good ones, but I doubt this will be one of them.
But we’ll see.
My regular readers know that I built a monster computer that I named “Shelley”, after Mary Shelley and Frankenstein’s monster. I started ten calculations, the number being coincidental and not intentional as it sounds as if it should be. I have six systems (Nitrogen, Oxygen, Fluorine, Phosphorus and Chlorine) that I am performing quantum mechanical calculations on, four of which will also be run with constraints. Two are not constrained because it wouldn’t do anything.
Four of these calculations are finally complete. These are very long calculations, and I checked the system. The computer has been up and running for over twenty-eight days straight working on them. So far, it has completed four of them, and four have not even completed the first round calculation of at least two, and some which will include three calculations.
As it turns out, the Windows operating system really hates that. The system’s default is to check for updates, and automatically install them, every week. You can delay these updates, but for no more than five weeks. I’m not quite there yet, but I did find a way around these updates. The trick isn’t difficult, really. I unplugged the system from my internet router and turned off the wi-fi. In other words, my system is completely isolated from the world. I’m kind of surprised that it doesn’t automatically turn on the wi-fi, but if it does, I’ll disconnect the antenna, or change my wi-fi password as needed. But I don’t think it will do so.
For a few weeks, I’ve been wondering why I haven’t noticed heat generated by the computer in my office. The computer was warm to the touch but didn’t seem to give off enough heat to warm up the office. This seemed strange. The system does have a liquid cooling system, but even with that it seems as if it should be generating more heat than it does.
As it turns out, this week we’ve been flirting with temperatures as high as 80. Now, the warmth is very noticeable in my office. The heat is certainly making a difference recently.
Sadly, my calculations are for nothing. As it turns out, somebody already figured out and published what I have been testing. It’s unfortunate that I don’t have access to research journals. Maybe I would have saved about ten thousand of my own dollars for a project to discover what has already been known.
I don’t know how long. The second step in the scientific method (the first being the formulation of a question) is to perform a literature search. The reason is exactly this. If somebody has already answered your question, there’s not much point in pursuing it yourself (unless you are checking the findings).
The truth is that I’m pretty disappointed by this. It hurts spending a month on calculations like this, and a good deal of money, only to discover that somebody has beaten you to the finish line. I’m continuing the calculations anyway, just because I really don’t like leaving things unfinished.
So now I have to decide what to do with my monster system in my hot little office. I do have another project that I have been wanting to develop on criminal activity prediction. It doesn’t need so much power as my current calculations, but maybe it’s time to switch projects. And update my system. The project is akin to crime statistics but uses a very different approach. As such, it might have some potential to make money, but the honest truth is that I doubt that it will ever sell even if it does work. For some reason, I’m not a person that is taken seriously.
I find it’s interesting that the meaning of things changes depending on circumstances. Give a tax break to a wealthy person, and it ends up being squirreled away and never entering circulation. But give a tax break to a working mom living paycheck to paycheck, and it means food, utilities, medicine and clothing. In my cold room, I didn’t notice that heat because I just assumed it was regular heating, but when it’s warm, I’m definitely feeling it.