Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What's up with the title?

It's best to set things straight from the start: who's the demon and what's up with the second kind?

The blog title is a reference to a story from The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem,  called "The Sixth Sally, or How Trurl and Klaupacius Created a Demon of the Second Kind to Defeat the Pirate Pugg".  Said pirate was most unusual: he would capture crews in order to rob them not of doubloons, but of stories. He was , you see, hungry for information - and any new piece of it would do. Now, Trurl and Klapaucius, brilliant engineers as they are (and robotic if we are at that) would punish him in the cruelest way possible - yet perfectly sensible (if you are an engineer as I am).

The two inventors end up constructing a more advanced version of Maxwell's demon (hence the second kind): not only that it can make observations and rational decisions on molecule speeds, but it can also extract meaningful information from the apparently meaningless chaos of molecule movement. Very soon, the pirate was overloaded with information (and physically drowned in printed paper). The information that the Demon extracted was factually correct, but while it wasn't quite meaningless drivel, it wasn't very far from that either. Recipe for ion crumpets? What were the insults which Pope Um of Pendora heaped upon Antipope Mlum of Porking? Come on. 

While I'm not planning to drown anyone with information, nor do I have the skills of extracting genuine information from chaos, the title is a play on the wide range of topics that the blog covers. 

And ... there we go!

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