Monday, March 10, 2014

Caltech Solved the Schrödinger Equation With WCG/AC Computers

The great thing about the following quote is that they admit that they got to use the church computers to do work on Saturdays. Apostasy! Like all things in Armstrongism, there were ways to get around everything just as long as you were not one of the dumb sheeple in a field church.

Kuppermann and his colleagues knew that these computer resources would not be sufficient for their project, so they actively started looking for solutions. The answer was provided by a postdoctoral scholar who uncovered a wealth of unused computer time at a Pasadena religious organization called the Worldwide Church of God. The church and its associated religious school, Ambassador College, used an IBM 360 computer to record information about their donors —the same type of machine that Kuppermann's group was using at the Caltech's computer center. Such machines required that each line of computer code be physically "punched" out on a card, which would then be fed into and read by the computer.

The computer at Ambassador College was only used for church business during the week, so Kuppermann's lab group got permission to use the computer for research purposes on the weekends. "We would take these boxes of computer cards and either drive or ride our bicycles to Ambassador College," Schatz recalls. "When it started, we were doing this on Fridays—we'd prepare these cards, deliver them on Friday afternoon, and then go back on Monday to pick up the results. And since the computers were sitting idle over the weekend except for our work, we were actually able to accomplish a huge amount."

 In fact, this unorthodox collaboration between a religious organization and a group of scientists enabled the Kuppermann group to resolve several important issues about the importance of quantum effects in chemical reactions. "These calculations allowed us to to solve the Schrödinger equation—in other words, to use quantum mechanics to describe the reaction of a hydrogen atom and a hydrogen molecule (H2)," he says. "And it was the first time that the Schrödinger equation was solved for this reaction," a highlight of Kuppermann's career, Schatz says.

Despite the importance of the computing time, the staff at Ambassador College "had no idea that their computer was basically the center of the universe for doing computations of reaction dynamics," says Schatz. "We acknowledged Ambassador College in our papers at the time, but they never charged us for anything; they just seemed to be interested in the fact that we could do fundamental science with computer resources that they just were never using.  Resourceful Computing Advances Chemistry at Caltech


Joe Moeller said...

Too bad that the computer couldn't solve AC's problems!

Joe Moeller
Cody, WY

Black Ops Mikey said...

Whether or not the computer was really used on the Sabbath was in a state of indeterminancy until observed.

Black Ops Mikey said...

Did Schrodinger's cat visit the campus?

If it did, did it survive?

(A valid question, since all the WCG ministry seemed to be Republican dog owners.)

Byker Bob said...

Oh, No! James Malm will certainly have something to say about this!


Anonymous said...

I worked in the Data Processing Center in the late 1970's, after they had traded the IBM 360 in for a 370. I recall being told at some point during that period that they loaded the computer on Friday afternoons with jobs that could run unmonitored. Then they let it run unattended until the Saturday night shift arrived.

The cooperative work with Cal Tech probably gave them the courage to do this.

(minushorny)old EXPCGhag said...

This is sorta like the reasoning the PCG had about eating out on the Sabbath (Friday sunset to Saturday sunset).

They reasoned..."They will be working anyway"...referring to the workers at the restaurants.

Never made any damn sense to me!

It was kinda like the big ol "G" above the minister's head at the Masonic Lodge we met at in Orting WA.


Anonymous said...

Wait, something at Ambassador actually was once used to benefit and ADVANCE human knowledge? That IS unprecedented news!

Anonymous said...

Are you surprised that HWA didn't charge them a fee, under the table perhaps? Perhaps this was a lost opportunity.

Assistant Deacon said...

And here we were told that God caused the computer to be invented so that his Work could be completed, when it was Caltech's work that was the reason all along.

Byker Bob said...

I wonder if HWA even knew that this was ongoing. My gut instinct tells me that there would have been some bragging had he known. In some small way, it might also have given accreditation efforts a boost.

The commissary (which he canned when he learned about) is at least one example of a below the radar operation executed by people lower in the decision making process, so decisions re computer time could have been made without his knowledge.


Anonymous said...


Don't go! That's funny about the "big G above the minister's head"

I remember when our congregation was having services at a movie theatre, and when an X-rated movie was being shown, the deacons would come early and cover the advertisements with bedsheets before the members arrived.
But, the movie marquee outside was not covered.
I wonder what passersby thought, watching members seemingly walking into an X-rated movie, wearing Mormon-type suits, carrying briefcases, with their 1940's-style skirted wives and children following them in.