Friday, 3 August 2007

Analogy for an analogy

I read a re-post by Hoff earlier about evolution, and his caffeine inspired flights of fancy about what the implications of laziness were for virtualisation. I love it. There are a few people on SBN who have really good ideas and relate them in ways which tickle me. I'm a physicist by education, I have a B.Sc. in Physics, I did Maths/Phys/Chem for A-level. I like science.

I like economics, but it is nothing I have ever studied, so when Jon Robinson talks me through a subject I read attentively and goggle eyed in awe. Alex Hutton is my risk hero, and for all out geekiness with a hint of the ridiculous, shrdlu at layer8 is rapidly becoming a kindred curmudgeonly spirit.

Science and computers are inextricably linked too. And the more complex they become, the more being an engineer requires a knowledge more like biology than engineering. I gave up Biology when I was 15 (having come 3rd in my year I might add) because I didn't want to cut up frogs. Oh how I've changed.

What I mean by "more like biology" is a certain overall knowledge of the system is required before troubleshooting can even begin. What Chris (Hoff) said still rang a few Physics bells for me however.

Thermodynamic Equilibrium

Important. A system in contact with another system will always tend towards sharing the same level of energy as that it is in contact with, that is to say, if you're touching something cold, you will warm it up whilst you cool down, and vice versa.

Lowest Energy State Preference

EVERYTHING in the known universe tends towards a state of lowest energy. Be it an atom, a molecule, a box of marbles or an elephant. If there is an external force acting on it, the object in question will move in favour of the force, because that is energetically favourable.

This holds true for all of Chris's arguments about power consumption and evolution of the network, as well as the science he has quoted from the magazine. Yes they are analogies, but they are equivalent and relevant, especially in security where analogy is king.

Just as robots are being developed in Japan which realistically mimic human movements by choosing the "laziest route to achieving their endpoint", so networks naturally evolve by taking the most energy efficient route. The only difference between the systems is the power source for the energy in the systems.

In our life we convert food into energy by a system of magic (I told you I gave up biology when I was 15). In business we convert power into energy by a system of paying for it. Just as our bodies prefer not to expend energy where it is not neccesary, our bosses prefer not to spend money where it is not necessary.

So for all the people saying Hoff is crazy, I say "maybe, but crazy works and it's a hell of lot less dull than repeating what everyone else is saying", there is a thin line between crazy and genius, and I'm still not sure which side Hoff is on.

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