Thursday 10th April 2008

i can factor prime numbers of arbitrary size


posted by mAtt @ 1.34 (gmt+0000)
to /1137/geek/silliness

Friday 4th April 2008

(in which i elaborate)

at some point in our past we had to deal with fundamental threats to survival. i mean it, profoundly fundamental: take away every comfort you know, remove yourself from the surety of your next meal, hide alternately from the snow and the sun, sleep in the midst of animals with sharp teeth, oh and while all this is going on you also have to make little copies of yourself and do your best to keep them alive as well. rinse, repeat.

under this continuous pressure, it was absolutely assured that we were always comprised of the toughest stuff possible. those with a fortunate allocation of genes departed at a lower rate than those without. over time simple probability distilled the genome.

now we're reaping the benefits of our inherited capability: as a species we're doing well. we've pretty much figured out what to do in order to avoid dying. to this end we've perfected space heaters and crop rotation and vaccines and a hundred thousand other things, and have twice that number of things in development. we have learned to modify our surroundings to suppress the bad stuff, and create environments capable of providing all of our needs. again, we truly can't be blamed for doing so—our deepest, most primal genetic mandate is to keep living, so we'll do what it takes.

but in succeeding so astonishingly, we have removed the very thing that got us here in the first place: pressure.

it's inevitable that little genetic ripples appear. in the beginning they were the cause of our success because they are occasionally beneficial—those that were not eventually corrected themselves through attrition. but with all the cushions we've placed beneath ourselves, with every safety net our large brains and modern life can afford, there is no longer any mechanism to keep these flaws out, so they accumulate.

i believe there will come a point where we will ultimately buckle under the weight. for centuries now we've been moving away from an equilibrium. we've become stagnant and inflated, and a correction is inevitable.