Tag: Pieter Dilg

The impossible program

Each year new computer systems are put into the market, featuring increased memory capacity, better screens but perhaps most importantly, stronger processors. More processing power results in handling more tasks per second or, in other words, less time per task.  A modern computer can carry out most operations in a fraction of a second, even though it took the most powerful computers minutes or even hours, 30 years ago. As computers get stronger, however, the tasks we ask them to perform get more complicated too. Whereas they once had to solve simple mathematical operations, they […]

15 september • Door Pieter Dilg Tijd om te lezen Estimated reading time: 4 minuten

The Duisenberg Pranksters

Sometime in the future, when physical college lectures are once again allowed, one hundred students are attending a lecture of the Multivariate Calculus course. The students, after hearing multiple savvy jokes about their intellect and ability regarding calculus, decide to play a prank on the professor and his colleagues. They plan to boobytrap some of the one hundred doors on the 7-th floor of the Duisenberg building. However, knowing that the professors are quite brilliant, they need to allocate the boobytraps in a manner that is hard to figure out. Near the end of the […]

07 mei • Door Pieter Dilg Tijd om te lezen Estimated reading time: 3 minuten

You got that?

When asked for the most important elements in human life, many could agree on “communication” being high up on the list. It is essential and fundamental to every aspect of life, with few exceptions to be discovered. Up to this day, many methods have been come up with for sending messages across the globe, some being more reliable than others. The field of communication, being a magnet for technological innovation, sees many advances involving reliability and speed, but one issue remains: How can one be sure every message is received?  The two generals Sending a message […]

14 april • Door Pieter Dilg Tijd om te lezen Estimated reading time: 4 minuten

Musical roads

Rumble strips are small bumps in the side of the road to alert drivers when they stray away from the middle of the driveway. Especially for people driving long roads at night, such a strip can be a life-saving instrument. If a tired driver slowly drowses away, he or she will be aroused by the annoying sound that the car makes when driving over these sleeper lines. Also people that are paying attention to their phone instead of the road may be stirred up by the strips. Did you know, however, that in many countries, […]

13 februari • Door Pieter Dilg Tijd om te lezen Estimated reading time: 3 minuten

The truel

Imagine it is 1872, you are sitting in a saloon with Smith and Brown, two of your old friends. However, the three of you do not seem to get along as you did before. As time passes, tall tales turn into boisterous arguments. At some point Smith has had enough and challenges both of you for a truel, a triangular pistol duel. You hesitate, knowing that you are the worst shot out of the three and look at Brown. You both know that Smith has the best aim and Brown comes second. In fact, from the […]

19 december • Door Pieter Dilg Tijd om te lezen Estimated reading time: 3 minuten

Perfectly out of tune

Almost everybody enjoys some nice piano music, at least occasionally. Although some more keen of the instrument than others, many would claim being able to diagnose an out-of-tune piano. Fact is, however, that a piano is never in perfect tune. I’ll tell you why.   The piano is an instrument that, like the guitar, uses the vibration of its strings to produce sound. The tone that a string produces is determined by multiple factors, such as its length, tension and composition. On the piano string, waves reflect from both ends. The superposition of reflecting waves […]

31 oktober • Door Pieter Dilg Tijd om te lezen Estimated reading time: 3 minuten

Predicting earthquakes

Ever since we, humans, started to ruin this planet, we have had to deal with earth’s reciprocation that came in the form of earthquakes. Fortunately, over this long period of time, we got better and better at constructing houses and other types of buildings that could withstand these tremors, up to some extent. However, a hut made out of timber is rebuilt quicker than a skyscraper and, during an earthquake, one probably resides rather in the first than in the latter. Even with present-day architectural technology, there remain incidents claiming hundreds or even thousands of lives. […]

19 september • Door Pieter Dilg Tijd om te lezen Estimated reading time: 4 minuten

How to choose wisely

So many choices, so little time. In today’s world, everyone struggles sometimes to make a choice quickly, in fear of not picking the best one. Often the amount of options is overwhelming and the paradox of choice strikes us multiple times a day. What if there was a method that helped you pick a movie to watch or a spot to park your car? Luckily, such a method exists and it is easily explained by the following illustration: In front of you are 100 envelopes, each containing an unknown amount of cash. You are allowed […]

07 mei • Door Pieter Dilg Tijd om te lezen Estimated reading time: 3 minuten

Raadsel: gevangen op een eiland

Op een afgelegen eiland leven tweehonderd gevangenen. Honderd van hen hebben blauwe ogen, honderd hebben bruine ogen. De gevangenen hebben geen kennis van deze verdeling, noch van hun eigen oogkleur. Verder leeft er een bewaker op het eiland, die de gevangenen nauwlettend in de gaten houdt. Dat is wel nodig, want de gevangenen kunnen allemaal perfect logisch nadenken. Ze mogen van de bewaker op geen enkele manier met elkaar communiceren. Ze krijgen echter een kans om het eiland te verlaten; Zo vertelt de bewaker, welke zelf groene ogen heeft: “Vertel mij welke kleur ogen je hebt, en […]

21 maart • Door Pieter Dilg Tijd om te lezen Estimated reading time: 2 minuten

Of keys, codes and quantum computers

Imagine you are working on a top secret project and you have to send a message containing confidential information concerning the project. How can you make sure the message won’t be read by any other eyes than those of the addressee? A message that changes itself when read by anyone who is not supposed to, sounds like everything you need. Is this the future? No. It already exists. The quantum computer brings not only this, but also many other incredibly useful possibilities. What are quantum computers, and how can they shatter our present-day digital defences? Encryption Digital security, […]

15 januari • Door Pieter Dilg Tijd om te lezen Estimated reading time: 5 minuten

Fingerprints and the path to catching criminals

Do you often realise that during your whole day, while doing whatever you are doing, you leave marks on everything you touch? Probably not. Luckily, most criminals do not either. Most people know about fingerprints, but many underestimate the technology that is available to handle and analyze them. Thinking that partial or overlapping prints cannot be traced back to them, criminals often make the mistake of leaving fingerprints at crime scenes or on objects, handing over important material to the police. How are those prints deciphered and translated into useful information?   What does a […]

25 september • Door Pieter Dilg Tijd om te lezen Estimated reading time: 5 minuten

Can computers beat a coin?

Computers do what we tell them to do, if you know how to operate them. That is why computers play such an important role in our lives. However, sometimes we want a computer to just do something we cannot predict: to generate (a sequence of) random numbers. Random numbers are useful for a large variety of purposes, such as encryption, simulation and sampling. Now when you think about it for a moment, you may wonder how a computer can generate a purely random number by itself. Is it not possible to predict the numbers if […]

22 mei • Door Pieter Dilg Tijd om te lezen Estimated reading time: 5 minuten

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