Wednesday, 30 September 2009
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
Monday, 28 September 2009
Saturday, 26 September 2009
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
The second half is much better than the first, and I nearly wept at the end of two separate threads. This obviously is no mark of quality but rather a demonstration of a thundering sentimentality on my part that I try very hard to hide. So: not as bad as I originally tought, but not pushing my top ten for 2009.
Tuesday, 22 September 2009
"The premise behind a quantum computer is simple - provided you swallow the unpalatable quantum truths that underlie it. One is that objects such as atoms and electrons are not confined to being either this or that, as the objects of our everyday macroscopic world are; they can be both this and that at the same time. They might, for instance, be spinning clockwise and anticlockwise simultaneously, or adopt two different energy states at once. This is known as superposition.
What's more, these ambiguous quantum characters can club together so that what you do to one affects the others. This is the phenomenon of entanglement or, if you're Einstein, "spooky action at a distance". Together, the characteristics of superposition and entanglement make for a computer of awesome power.
Take a classical computational bit such as a transistor current. It can adopt one of two states: 0 (off) or 1 (on). Not so its quantum counterpart, the qubit. Superposition means a single qubit can simultaneously be 0 and 1, giving you twice the information storage capacity right from the start. Then entanglement kicks in, allowing further bits to share their superposed states in a common pool. The result is that computing power grows exponentially with the number of qubits. While three classical bits are needed to store the number 7, three qubits can store all eight numbers from 0 to 7 simultaneously
Michael Brooks, New Scientist, 21 September 2009
Blimey! I don't really understand this stuff, but I love the hyperbole that turns out to be simple fact.
Saturday, 19 September 2009
Friday, 18 September 2009
I have pinched this directly from Terry Teachout's terrific blog 'About Last Night'.
Thursday, 17 September 2009
Wednesday, 16 September 2009
Tuesday, 15 September 2009
Like most of the men in the book, Tucker is fairly useless (the women earn the money, make the decisions, bring up the children, talk the sense…). He does nothing. The book is a description of the mutual redemption of the two central characters, Tucker Crowe himself, and Annie, a woman locked into a loveless marriage with an obsessive ‘Croweologist’, Duncan. Crowe lives in the United States. Annie and Duncan on the Lincolnshire coast. The plot lies in the way Hornby brings them together.
He must have been delighted when he thought it up. It is another part of Nick Hornby’s attractiveness as a writer that he is so very easy to read, which invariably suggests that whatever one has read must have been very easy to write, which I daresay it wasn’t. He has great fun inventing Crowe, messing about with all sorts of rock and roll archetypes, traits and tropes that will appeal to the pop-culturally-aware readership that laps him up. He has a go, too, at the academic study of that very same pop culture that tends to lend to the trivial all kinds of weight that it should not be asked to bear.
It is a funny book, as well. There is something Kingsley Amis–like in Hornby’s determined eschewing of the high-falutin’. He writes with a delicious clarity. His authorial presence is ghost-like. We hear everything through his characters’ voices, the third person no bar to this. It is a deft trick. At the same time all three of the main characters make use of Hornby’s characteristic extended metaphors – the ones that (purposefully) break down like inexperienced tight-rope walkers desperately trying to keep their balance (there’s one beginning here, do you see?).
A final note: I would probably not have picked this up had I been reading piece-meal, but there are in the text I think at least four references to the verb tenses which are being employed. Has Nick Hornby been reading Michael Dummett?
Monday, 14 September 2009
Badly want Federer to win. So much so I cannot watch the blasted match. Why should this be? Surely the neutral should root for the underdog? I also tend to want Man Utd to win things. I want the best to be the best. Then again perhaps I simply crave authoritativeness. Is that so odd in one who aspires to be an author?