A masterpiece in 0.08 seconds

By Phil Plait | September 7, 2008 1:30 pm

I’ve been getting a zillion emails about this, and the video has 1.7 million views, so you’ve statistically probably already seen it, but just in case…

Jamie Hyneman and my close personal friend™ Adam Savage indulge in a little demo of parallel versus serial processing.

Awesome. This is a condensed version of the whole presentation, which is totally worth watching. Here’s Part 1 (which ends just before the Big Event) and Part 2, which picks right up where the first part left off.


Comments (18)

  1. Robert Krendik
  2. Blizno

    That’s a false comparison. Each of the operations shown in the parallel processing example happen at the speed of explosion while each of the operations in the serial processing example happen chunkka…chunkka…chunkka…
    In reality, each operation in a typical serial processing computer happens at megaflops speed while each operation in a parallel processing computer would happen much, much, much slower. The operations in the parallel processing computer are all happening at the same time, therefore the entire calculation could be much faster than the same calculation done by a serial processing computer, but this portrayal is very badly skewed.
    I’d like to see them to redo this with appropriate speeds. Have the serial computer example fire as fast as Governor Jesse’s gun in the movie Predator while the parallel processor example spits all the paintballs f-u-u-u-w-w-h-h-h-a-a-a-a at the same time.

  3. Now THAT is cool!
    Make it 1,700,001 views!

  4. John Moeller

    As usual, the truth is more complicated than Adam & Jaime make it out. But if a cool demonstration gets people interested in learning more, all the better. I was actually at that convention, but I missed the presentation. I’m now sorry I did.

  5. J. D. Mack

    That sooooo reminds me of the Steve Martin joke about the Mona Lisa being painted in one stroke!

    J. D.

  6. There’s only one word in the English language that best describes this presentation — SPLENDID!

  7. «bønez_brigade»

    I was non-statistical a few minutes ago, but you have now deflowered me.
    That reminded me a little of Survival Research Labs machinery, though less ruinous.

  8. Quiet Desperation

    0.08 seconds + the time it took to build and program the machine.

    I run into this problem at work. We have a couple Beowulf clusters of Linux machines, but there’s cases where it would take longer to code something up for parallel processing than just writing and running a simpler program that runs the desired calculation serially. Not always, but sometimes.

    Blizno has a point, too. You could probably create a single barrel gun that can create the same Mona Lisa picture in just a second or so, with less NRE (non-recurring engineering, or the act of building the gun).

    That being said, way cool video. Thanks, Phil.

  9. Robert

    I would have actually been more impressed if the second example had been a four paint gun model that would have done the same drawing in one fourth the time. That would have modelled the typical single core CPU vs the quad-core. As it is, it’s a bit like comparing an abacus to a supercomputer farm, a bit overkill.


  10. Good points re parallel vs serial computing, however this example is just like the end of the show when they have confirmed or busted a myth and then go for THE BIG FINISH – just because they can.

    The exploding cement truck comes to mind. :)

    This is one of the coolest things I have seen these guys do, ever. Truly made of awesome.


  11. It’s Dali’s Abraham Lincoln!


    The first demonstration was disturbingly reminiscent of the Midwest mailbox bomber back in 2002, who was planting bombs whose locations would form a smiley-face pattern.


  12. Todd W.

    I was kind of partial to the camera shot from upstage of the gun. Very cool to see the Mona Lisa extruded into a cloud.

  13. Gary Ansorge

    My Son sent it to me last week. Comes in handy having offspring as interested in techno stuuf as the old Da.

    Impressive! Wish I had as big a budget to play around with as do they.

    GAry 7

  14. IBY

    That was giga cool! It is not fair, I can’t get my hands on them. :)

  15. madge

    Think Leonardo would have liked one of those? :)


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


See More

Collapse bottom bar