A little-known discipline of science called computational intractability studies the boundaries of our understanding – not questions of the philosophical realm (Is there a god? An afterlife?) but of the everyday computational realm.
So says the Boston Globe, in an article that’s finally appeared, after it apparently kept getting bumped for personal health stories (I guess NP-completeness still doesn’t move papers like cancer). I’m gratified: in this time of economic crisis, the world urgently needs more articles about what humans still won’t be able to do in a billion years. (A colleague complained to me that computational intractability is not “little-known”; in fact, almost all computer scientists know what it is. I’m not sure if he was joking.)
Speaking of Public Understanding of Science: as you may have heard, much of the future of American science now hinges on whether the Senate, as it haggles over the $800B stimulus, decides to sprinkle a breadcrumb or two off the table for us. If there was ever a time to email your Senator’s office, and have a staff person check a box marked “constituent complaining about science funding” in your name, it’s probably this week. The APS has drafted a letter for you.