Origins of the Digital Universe

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Some numbers mean things, and some numbers do things. Making--and breaking--that distinction was central to renowned mathematician John von Neumann’s implementation of Alan Turing’s Universal Machine in 1945-56. In this lecture, you will learn about the unlikeliest place on earth to build such a device and how this vital 5-kilobyte step in the digital revolution was sparked by a collision of ideas between mathematicians and engineers. Combining soldering guns with science, Von Neumann and his Electronic Computing Instrument tackled previously intractable problems ranging from thermonuclear explosions, stellar evolution, and long-range weather forecasting to cellular automata, network optimization, and the origins of life. In this highly visual and informative presentation, George Dyson will impart the full story - from the people to their processors - and where our digital directions through history may lead us next.