New Meetup: Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe

From: John
Sent on: Wednesday, February 29, 2012 1:27 PM

Announcing a new Meetup for Nerd Fun - Boston!

What: Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe
When: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 6:00 PM

Where: Brattle Theatre
40 Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

Join us at the Brattle as George Dyson lectures on his new book, Turing's Cathedral - The Origins of the Digital Universe.  Dyson tells us the story of a team at Princeton University, led by John Von Neumann, who set out to realize Alan Turning's idea of the Universal Machine that could compute any computable sequence.  In doing so, they started the digital revolution that brought us to where we are today.

The lecture is sponsored by Harvard Bookstore.  Tickets are required, and are $5.00 online (follow the link below and click on the Tickets tab), or at the Harvard Bookstore.

The lecture starts at 6:00.  We'll start meeting a half hour before at the entrance to the Brattle (inside if it's nasty out), then go on in about 10-15 minutes before things get started.  If you arrive later, just go on in, and we'll reconvene out front on Brattle St.  Afterwards, we'll go to Pizzeria Uno for food and socializing.

Note that the RSVP limit is mainly for the after event at Pizzeria Uno. The lecture is open to the public, so if you're on the waitlist, you're certainly still welcome to attend.  Come by and say hello :)

Hope to see you there :)

From the Harvard Bookstore Website:

“It is possible to invent a single machine which can be used to compute any computable sequence,” twenty-four-year-old Alan Turing announced in 1936. In Turing’s Cathedral, George Dyson focuses on a small group of men and women, led by John von Neumann at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, who built one of the first computers to realize Alan Turing’s vision of a Universal Machine. Their work would break the distinction between numbers that mean things and numbers that do things—and our universe would never be the same.
Using five kilobytes of memory (the amount allocated to displaying the cursor on a computer desktop of today), they achieved unprecedented success in both weather prediction and nuclear weapons design, while tackling, in their spare time, problems ranging from the evolution of viruses to the evolution of stars.
Dyson’s account, both historic and prophetic, sheds important new light on how the digital universe exploded in the aftermath of World War II. The proliferation of both codes and machines was paralleled by two historic developments: the decoding of self-replicating sequences in biology and the invention of the hydrogen bomb. It’s no coincidence that the most destructive and the most constructive of human inventions appeared at exactly the same time.
How did code take over the world? In retracing how Alan Turing’s one-dimensional model became John von Neumann’s two-dimensional implementation, Turing’s Cathedral offers a series of provocative suggestions as to where the digital universe, now fully three-dimensional, may be heading next.



Check it out!

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