Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Foiled by a Photon!

Running brings out the nano-technology in me.

Nano-technology, of course, is the newest scientific pursuit of aligning individual atoms side by side in a preconceived design in order to minimize the size of an electronic component. The theory goes that by purifying a substance down to the individual atom of the desired element and purposely aligning the atoms so to maximize conductivity or other useful scientific properties, we can increase the speed and accuracy of the transfer of information in order to do more with less material and energy. If developed cost effectively, the benefits appear to be endless.

But there's a problem. We don't live in a laboratory. Here in the real world we are continuously bombarded with the tiniest sub-microscopic phenomena such as flying photons, zinging radioactive rays, anti-matter, neutrinos - you name it. It pierces our very beings as the particles and little "bundles" of energy slip through the holes of our molecules and even atoms. To these particles and rays, atoms are like large shopping malls sparsely populated with unpredictable shoppers (first here -now there!). There is room to pass through completely uninhibited and unobstructed - zoom right through! Now every once in awhile, a sub-particle (a photon perhaps) will smash into one of these shoppers (electrons) or perhaps even the central information desk (the nucleus) and all heck breaks loose. Disruption!

So here's the rub with nano-technology: Because the components are made with individual atoms, if an atom is accidentally knocked out of whack by an errant photon or sub-particle, the component will not operate as designed. Today's technology does not have this problem because there are so many layers of atoms that while one atom is accidentally shaken up, the other layers or chains of atoms continue to work properly (and so forth). Therefore the components made with nano-technology must be properly shielded against the errant sub-particle otherwise it is useless.

Well today, a stray sub-particle obviously smashed into one of my extremely delicate and thin layer of working brain cells and caused irreparable harm to a simple math calculation. Having thinned the herd down to single layers, I am now susceptible to the errant photon crashing into my head and taking out a link. Here's what happened:

I was simply trying to run my two hour workout this morning when I found myself approaching the house in 1:54:00 - or 6 minutes to go. No problem, I would just run 3 minutes down the road, then 3 minutes back, thus finishing out the 2 hours. Not 50 yards into the first 3 minutes, a serious malfunction occurred and I unknowingly recalculated the remaining time to finish as 3 minutes total and not 6 minutes. The data got corrupted! With absolutely no clue that the malfunction occurred, with no sense of doubt, with no momentary "forgetfulness", I automatically turned around at 1 minute 30 seconds and ran back to the house. When I hit the watch and saw 1:56:32 I was completely baffled!! I stood in my front yard looking back down the road completely bewildered. I could not understand why my watch did not say 2:00:00. I went so far as to suspect a watch error or perhaps a watch operator error (did I hit a wrong button?). I had to go in the house, sit down, and hit "replay" to determine what had occurred.

So that's my theory for today's mysterious occurrence, different than a blockage, information overload, or faulty input. Today, we had unexplainable, instantaneous, undetected, and complete data corruption. I'm glad I'm not a pilot.

Total miles ~14 in 1:56:32. Tomorrow is an easy 1 hour.

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