Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Bathroom turing machine

Harness the unused computation power of public restrooms
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Turing machines are conceptual, simple, "computers". They can do any calculation that a computer can do. The premise is that you have a set of instructions, and a storage device, usually represented as an infinitely long paper tape divided into squares that function as one bit of memory.

Obviously, infinitely long things don't exist, but there is one very common example of a long piece of paper divided into squares. That's right: toilet paper.

People in bathrooms are basically wasting time anyways; they are just sitting there instead of doing anything productive. So I propose that you tape a set of instructions to the inside of a stall door that correspond to the commands needed for a Turing machine to calculate something. Have a pencil and eraser handy for marking down "1" or "0" on the toilet paper (note that this will only work with the cheap non-fluffy recycled paper commonly found in public washrooms), and people could run the program while sitting there doing their business. Then the next person to come in would continue the program, and so forth, until they get to the "END" command, at which point they would take the output (the toilet paper), and present it to whoever is in charge.

A more advanced version could use multiple bathroom stalls for parallel processing. In fact, if you assume that all 6 billion people on Earth help with the computation, and that they go to the bathroom on average twice a day and complete 10 instructions per visit, you'd be approaching the performance of an early-80's minicomputer.

kyle90, Apr 18 2007

State of the World's Toilets http://www.wateraid...eOfWorldToilets.pdf
see chart on pages 5-6 [nuclear hobo, Apr 19 2007]

Turing Piano Turing_20Piano
if you're only having a tinkle [Ian Tindale, Apr 21 2007]

[link]






       SETI@home would like to talk to you...
hippo, Apr 18 2007
  

       "People in bathrooms are basically wasting time anyways" - not me, thank you very much.
DrCurry, Apr 18 2007
  

       Depending on the accuracy of those engaged in another process and in varying states of mind, health, drunkeness, etc. to perform calculations, no matter how simple, is an invitation to failure.   

       Aside from that, the output would have to be cleaned and dried before it could be read.
nuclear hobo, Apr 18 2007
  

       Your next target, [kyle90], can be the time in a conversation when a person is not actually speaking, but just standing around, frittering away the day.
bungston, Apr 18 2007
  

       You'd have to use a different notation for this, than your usual binary:
Number "1" and Number "2".
Ian Tindale, Apr 19 2007
  

       I can't tell if this brown smudge is a 0 or a 1.
phundug, Apr 19 2007
  

       //In fact, if you assume that all 6 billion people on Earth help with the computation// a large proportion of whom would be re-enacting a skewed form of Searle's "Chinese Room".
zen_tom, Apr 19 2007
  

       //if you assume that all 6 billion people on Earth help with the computation// First you have to assume that all *7* billion (rounded up from 6.8) have access to toilets *and* paper. some 700M in India and 800M in China lack even basic sanitation and it's far worse in Africa.
nuclear hobo, Apr 19 2007
  

       // take the output (the toilet paper), and present it to whoever is in charge.//   

       Boy, I can't wait to see the look on his face.
phundug, Apr 19 2007
  

       The small amount of effort done by them wouldn't be nearly as efficient as a normal computer. It wouldn't be worth it, and it's prone to errors. [-]
apocalyps956, Apr 19 2007
  

       //wouldn't be nearly as efficient as a normal computer//   

       I almost want to tagline that.
daseva, Apr 22 2007
  

       What percentage of the world's population uses toilet paper anyway? More than half? Less than half?   

       I've had it both ways, paper or water.
twitch, Apr 22 2007
  

       Hows this for an idea? Attatch a small electrical generator to the inside of the toilet roll. This way just every day use, or the bored spinning we frequently resort to, could power our lives.
ColonelMuffins, Apr 23 2007
  

       I like Col Muffin's idea best (TP generator)   

       I think there is some seriously good brain computation that goes on while staring at the backs of toilet stalls that we wouldn't want to just give away to the Turing machine. I mean, is the Turing machine going to contribute any ideas to this website? If so, then I would consider it, but until then, I prefer on-the-john-time as valuable half-baked idea generating time.   

       That's when I come up with all my good ideas at least. Right, guys? Am I the only one on the john right now? Guys?
kerryoco, Feb 11 2008
  

       Most public bathrooms where I'm from have a single long piece of TP, and you get to decide where to make the tear. This means that my bits are much larger than your bits on average, and therefore I'd be a bigger contributor to revising Microsoft than you are, right!?   

       Also, I would bearuecratically put all 1's and no 0's on the programming!
quantum_flux, Feb 11 2008
  

       This reminds me of the joke about the constipated mathematician. He worked it out with a pencil.
mecotterill, Mar 19 2009
  

       //He worked it out with a pencil//
For really hard ones, they use logs.
coprocephalous, Mar 19 2009
  
      
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