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Tim A. Dowd (Bodo)
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 7:58 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

There was a time when those of a certain persuasion would set unto each other tricksy and arcane puzzles which, maze-like in their complexity, might occupy said gentlepeople in a festive--frolicsome, even--manner. These labyrinthine and convoluted rebuses would be scrutinized with great jollity by those involved, until they puzzled out the exact nature and purpose of the proposed item, chasing down the very paths taken by motes and atomies quite too small for a person to see. Competition would ensue to demonstrate who among them could most speedily determine said purpose, and thus did their consternation and anguish ring loud from the normally hushed vaults of their respective clubs when one amongst them did deem to play a prank upon his fellows--they puzzled and puzzed and could not determine the intent of this mysterious beastie. How did one among their number fool such an intelligent and erudite group with a mere drawing?

These are electrical engineers trying to figure out what a given chip is intended to do based on a diagram of the logical components--something they would do for fun (go figure). One of them came up with a design which, even though fully functional, mystified the rest when they tried to analyze it.
Lynne (Lynne)
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 8:47 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Am I likely to have any idea about this one? Be honest, be brutally honest :)
Tim A. Dowd (Bodo)
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 9:12 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

By Lynne (Lynne) on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 08:47 pm:

Am I likely to have any idea about this one? Be honest, be brutally honest :)Certainly! I'm not talking about someting as complex as a CPU--more along the lines of a memory chip or a controller. And you can approach it based on the initial statement (admitedly, you might have to translate it into proper English first) rather than the "true" scenario.
Lynne (Lynne)
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 9:34 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Nah, still have no idea what a memory chip or a controller would look like.
Haenlomal (Haenlomal)
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 9:45 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Now THAT'S what I call a puzzle statement! I shall try to pose my questions in the same manner, though I'm sure I'll fall quite short of the mark....

Did these gentlepeople perchance had the misadventure of encountering a logical paradox?
Tim A. Dowd (Bodo)
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 10:02 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

By Lynne (Lynne) on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 09:34 pm:

Nah, still have no idea what a memory chip or a controller would look like. You don't need to know any particular level of detail--do you understand the basic concept behind, for example, a memory chip? Pretty much a computer (or whatever) stores data there, right? And that's about the level of konwledge you need. Heck, I'm a software guy--I'd be lost myself.

=======================================================================
By Haenlomal (Haenlomal) on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 09:45 pm:

Now THAT'S what I call a puzzle statement! :O I shall try to pose my questions in the same manner, though I'm sure I'll fall quite short of the mark.... Oh, I'm sure you'll do fine--it's not like it's in some authentic form or something--I was just foolin' around. :O

Did these gentlepeople perchance had the misadventure of encountering a logical paradox? Yes.
Arjun (Jun)
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 10:24 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Had he apparently invented a PMM?
Tim A. Dowd (Bodo)
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 10:29 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

By Arjun (Jun) on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 10:24 pm:

Had he apparently invented a PMM? I don't know what a PMM is, sorry.
Simon Downham (Beroean)
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 10:33 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'd like to join in but I'm not sure what we are supposed to do!

Are we tryiing to define a diagram?
Lynne (Lynne)
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 10:50 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'd like to join in but I'm not sure what we are supposed to do!
thank goodness I'm not the only one... :)
Arjun (Jun)
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 11:19 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I don't know what a PMM is, sorry.
A Perpetual Motion Machine.

I meant, had he apparently invented something that defied the laws of Physics?
Tim A. Dowd (Bodo)
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 11:37 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

By Simon Downham (Beroean) on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 10:33 pm:

I'd like to join in but I'm not sure what we are supposed to do!

Are we tryiing to define a diagram? Not exactly. There are a couple of words in the initial statement that provide clues.

=======================================================================
By Lynne (Lynne) on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 10:50 pm:

I'd like to join in but I'm not sure what we are supposed to do!
thank goodness I'm not the only one... :) :O

=======================================================================
By Arjun (Jun) on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 11:19 pm:

I don't know what a PMM is, sorry.
A Perpetual Motion Machine. Oh, I see. Nothing like that.

I meant, had he apparently invented something that defied the laws of Physics? No, it would work, if someone were to actually build it...
Fred Z (Dref)
Posted on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 5:13 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Is this from a story?
Peter J (Astraz)
Posted on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 12:41 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

So, the "design" had not yet actually been built yet ? and existed only on paper at present ?

Would this design actually be used for a 'practical' or 'fun' purpose if it was built ?
Simon Downham (Beroean)
Posted on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 1:55 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Has anyone read Asimov's "Black Widowers" series?
The presentation of this scenarion reminds me of the tales/mysteries/puzzles of the Black Widowers. Henry - we need you!
Tim A. Dowd (Bodo)
Posted on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 2:48 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

By Fred Z (Dref) on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 05:13 am:

Is this from a story? It was related to me by a professor way back when I was in college (and dinosaurs roamed the earth etc.) as a true story. I have a vague memory that the drawings would apear in some kind of journal or periodical. Personally I lack the patience to deal with stuff at the level of ands, ors, nands, nors, xors etc.

=======================================================================
By Peter J (Astraz) on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 12:41 pm:

So, the "design" had not yet actually been built yet ? No. Still hasn't, I think. and existed only on paper at present ? Yes.

Would this design actually be used for a 'practical' or 'fun' purpose if it was built ? No to both.

=======================================================================
By Simon Downham (Beroean) on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 01:55 pm:

Has anyone read Asimov's "Black Widowers" series?
The presentation of this scenarion reminds me of the tales/mysteries/puzzles of the Black Widowers. Henry - we need you! It's been a while but I remember reading some of them, at least. I don't suppose I'll be able to help you, though.:O
Haenlomal (Haenlomal)
Posted on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 5:23 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Wild Guess time! Please check your e-mail...
Tim A. Dowd (Bodo)
Posted on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 9:34 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'll take a look as soon as I get home.
Fred Z (Dref)
Posted on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 10:08 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Is Dr. Seuss involved here?
Tim A. Dowd (Bodo)
Posted on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 10:18 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

By Fred Z (Dref) on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 10:08 pm:

Is Dr. Seuss involved here? No.
Fred Z (Dref)
Posted on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 10:20 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Well, he should be. ;)

If this design had been built, would it have been useful?
Tim A. Dowd (Bodo)
Posted on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 11:52 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

By Fred Z (Dref) on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 10:20 pm:

Well, he should be. ;) :O

If this design had been built, would it have been useful? NO!
David Joshua Faber (Taliesintwo)
Posted on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 1:03 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

did the design/circuit look like something? as in, the whole design was a silhouette of a naked woman?

was the design/circuit containing smaller designs such as a giant capacitor symbol made of a bunch of wires with capacitors?

or perhaps was the whole circuit a simple loop but lost in many labyrinthine twists and turns?
Tim A. Dowd (Bodo)
Posted on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 3:19 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

By David Joshua Faber (Taliesintwo) on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 01:03 am:

did the design/circuit look like something? as in, the whole design was a silhouette of a naked woman? No, not this kind of thing, more of a functional-but-not-useful thing.

was the design/circuit containing smaller designs such as a giant capacitor symbol made of a bunch of wires with capacitors? No.

or perhaps was the whole circuit a simple loop but lost in many labyrinthine twists and turns? This is getting much closer...
David Joshua Faber (Taliesintwo)
Posted on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 4:00 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

could the circuit been simplified and have the same effect? would this have been less puzzling?

was the circuit a complicatified version of a simpler circuit? (kinda, hmm, what if we put a parallel wire with a resistor here and this battery can be two batteries if we do this,...)

was the circuit too damn complicated to be of any use? (as in, it worked on paper but building it would drive three dozen of the best elec engineers to commit themselves to Calmwood Mental Hospital)
Tim A. Dowd (Bodo)
Posted on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 2:12 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

By David Joshua Faber (Taliesintwo) on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 04:00 am:

could the circuit been simplified and have the same effect? Probably. would this have been less puzzling? No.

was the circuit a complicatified version of a simpler circuit? (kinda, hmm, what if we put a parallel wire with a resistor here and this battery can be two batteries if we do this,...) No, I don't think that describes it.

was the circuit too damn complicated to be of any use? (as in, it worked on paper but building it would drive three dozen of the best elec engineers to commit themselves to Calmwood Mental Hospital) No, it was more like they were expecting a reasonable/useful function and it didn't have one.
David Burn (Woubit)
Posted on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 2:15 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Are logic gates involved in this circuit at all?
Tim A. Dowd (Bodo)
Posted on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 2:34 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

By David Burn (Woubit) on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 02:15 pm:

Are logic gates involved in this circuit at all? I think so, but I'm not sure of the specifics of the design, just the purpose of it (that was the goal of the participants, to figure out what it did by working through the diagram).
David Burn (Woubit)
Posted on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 2:42 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Is the idea that it actually did nothing at all?
Tim A. Dowd (Bodo)
Posted on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 2:48 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

By David Burn (Woubit) on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 02:42 pm:

Is the idea that it actually did nothing at all? It did something, but it wasn't something anyone would have any use for. I suppose we've already figured out why the other EEs were puzzled by it, since they worked it out but it didn't seem to make sense. The only thing left is to figure out exactly what it did, which could be described with a TLA (a slight variation on one I'm sure eveyone on the forum knows).
Lynne (Lynne)
Posted on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 8:34 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Is this a Heath Robinson contraption?
Arjun (Jun)
Posted on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 9:04 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Is the guy in question someone famous? Is Charles Babbage relevant? Which decade/year did this happen in?
Tim A. Dowd (Bodo)
Posted on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 11:24 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

By Lynne (Lynne) on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 08:34 pm:

Is this a Heath Robinson contraption? I'm not sure what that is (Rube Goldbergian?), so I don't know.

=======================================================================
By Arjun (Jun) on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 09:04 pm:

Is the guy in question someone famous? I don't remember. Is Charles Babbage relevant? No. Which decade/year did this happen in? I believe I heard the story in the late '70s or early '80s.
David Joshua Faber (Taliesintwo)
Posted on Monday, February 21, 2005 - 12:35 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

did the circuit have so simple of a function that it was unusable such as proving one equals one or something like that?
Tim A. Dowd (Bodo)
Posted on Monday, February 21, 2005 - 1:17 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

By David Joshua Faber (Taliesintwo) on Monday, February 21, 2005 - 12:35 am:

did the circuit have so simple of a function that it was unusable such as proving one equals one or something like that? No, not like that. Remember my hint about TLAs (e. g. ROM, RAM, CPU)--try to think of one that doesn't make sense.
Lynne (Lynne)
Posted on Monday, February 21, 2005 - 11:24 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Just one example

http://homepage.mac.com/koromo/Wine/Heath/HeathRob.html
Tim A. Dowd (Bodo)
Posted on Monday, February 21, 2005 - 3:36 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Yeah, that's the idea (definitely similar to Rube Goldberg), except normally they were more useful than spinning a spud. :O And in this case it wouldn't even have been that useful.
Tim A. Dowd (Bodo)
Posted on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 3:38 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

There's nothing here, go away.

So ROM stands for Read Only Memory, meaning that the data in the chip can be read but not overwritten/written to, and WORM stands for Write Once Read Many, where the data can only be written once but read until the thing wears out, and...
David Burn (Woubit)
Posted on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 8:58 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Write-only memory?
Tim A. Dowd (Bodo)
Posted on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 3:02 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

By David Burn (Woubit) on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 08:58 am:

Write-only memory? We have a winner!

This is from a vague classroom memory of 25 years ago in which the professor was talking about a feature in some sort of periodical or journal or publication which would show a circuit diagram without explaining the purpose of the circuit. May electrical engineers enjoyed puzzling out just what the circuit was supposed to do--it's really very much like a maze, I suppose. In one case someone presented such a diagram and as per usual they eagerly got to work analyzing the circuit, but they ended up scratching their heads in puzzlement. When they finally asked the perpetrator he smiled and explained that it was Write Only Memory (WOM). In other words, you could write to it but not get whatever you wrote back.

This is not a particularly useful function (save, perhaps, as a bit bucket), and so didn't occur to the other EEs.
Tim A. Dowd (Bodo)
Posted on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 3:02 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Oh, and that was the

**** SPOILER ****
David Burn (Woubit)
Posted on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 5:09 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Further information on this useful feature of, for example, flight recorders for bombs may be found here.
Tim A. Dowd (Bodo)
Posted on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 6:39 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Aha, that must be the origin (and more correct version) of the story, then.

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