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Comment Re:Contact (Score 1) 414

The big question is, does it turn out to contain the plans for a teleporting device?

Undoubtedly it does, embedded somewhere in the sequence.

Also the text of every novel that will ever be written.

If you're referring to the notion that the decimal expansion of Pi contains every possible sequence of digits, this has not been proven. Certainly it's not true of every transcendental number — Liouville's constant is an obvious exception. For that matter it's not even known whether Pi is normal, that is whether each digit occurs as often as every other.

And to grandparent: the idea that Pi contains a message from the Creator is interesting, but Contact is fiction and just because it comes from Sagan is no reason to take it more seriously than any of the ideas put forth in the works of J.K. Rowling. It is tempting to think of Pi, being the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, as just like all the constants physicists know and love (G, e, c, lambda, et al.) only more fundamental and therefore more AWESOME! But Pi is not like those, as should be apparent from the fact that we know 5 trillion digits of Pi and only about a dozen of each the others. Pi is not really a physical constant at all; it's a mathematical constant, the limit of the infinite series 4*(1 - 1/3 + 1/5 - 1/7 + 1/9 - 1/11 + ...), and hence a whole different beast entirely. It seems to me that the creator of the universe couldn't tailor the value of Pi any more easily than She could the value of 3.


Microsoft Plays Up Open Source 224

An anonymous reader writes "Recently Microsoft's open source software lab posted PostgreSQL on Windows: A Primer. Postgres is one of the longest running open source databases — it has been around for nearly 11 years. The powerful object-relational database is a direct competitor to other OSS databases, as well as Microsoft's SQL Server 2005. So why is Microsoft promoting it? I get Redmond's interest in boosting anything that runs on Windows as a platform. Is this simply a case of left-hand, right-hand, or is something deeper going on?"

Yes, we will be going to OSI, Mars, and Pluto, but not necessarily in that order. -- Jeffrey Honig