How Video Games Saved Astrophysics

Researchers at the University of Dartmouth have just proven something important: That you’re doing video games wrong. They’ve networked together a grid of eight Playstation 3’s and created a sort of ad-hoc super-computer in order to run simulations of gravity waves from mid-galaxy black holes. They call it “Guerilla Calculating,” and by “they” I mean “me,” and by “call” I mean “just made up now.” It is as viable a name as any, and come on – it lends a certain dangerous mystique to the whole thing, bringing to mind images of filthy, rope-muscled scientists in torn-lab coats hiding amongst the trees in some exotic location. Waiting…just waiting for the right moment to strike at the unsuspecting numbers with their jury-rigged theorems.

Death to the corrupt pig-dogs, death to the Riemann Hypothesis!

Okay, so maybe Dartmouth isn’t exactly the Columbian rainforest, and maybe some networked Playstations aren’t exactly compasses hacked together from bark and combat knives – but god damn, these guys still deserve some serious respect for seeing the easy, practical, sensible way – which was renting space on an established machine, and instead opting for the half-crazy, mad scientist, MacGyver way – which was to slap together some toys and yell “SCIENCE!” at them until they spontaneously became a supercomputer by sheer force of will.

Professor Marvin Hemmrich, pictured mere seconds before perfecting the Space Elevator

They used a Playstation 3 mainly because it is the cheapest computing power available for the dollar, seeing as how Sony still sells the consoles at a loss in order to make up revenue later on games. And it’s just as well that they settled on the PS3, because if you tried that shit on an Xbox 360 you’d likely get a plethora of infuriating 12-years-old solving all your calculations well before you, all the while yelling things like “newfag” and “pWned!” And even if you did get your simulation running, the virtual black hole would probably end up headshot mere seconds after spawning into existence, whereupon its corpse would then get repeatedly teabagged by somebody called FratBroCide420 for six straight minutes.

“So as you can see, gentleman, the gravity waves – represented here by a pendulous pair of armored testicles…”

They could’ve tried it on that cutesy retarded cousin of the video game console, the Wii, but they probably realized rather quickly that Nintendo doesn’t actually have any computing power, as the console inexplicably runs its games entirely on the giggles of schoolchildren and pictures of LOLcats.

“…still not working? Are you sure it’s plugged into the rainbow? Have you tried wishing that faeries were real? And you’ve eskimo-kissed the puppy already?”

Perhaps most baffling, however, was the quoted “astoundingly high cost” of renting existing super-computers that supposedly drove these scientists to their guerilla calculations: Roughly $1/hour. Now, if you have to spend 5000+ hours on your simulation like these scientists, it makes sense to avoid it in this fashion. But for the common man, this information raises a very important scientific question, and that is as follows: Who wants to throw down a fiver with me for a day on a NASA supercomputer?

Maybe we could figure out some less mathematically intensive questions with it, like what would The A-Team be like if David Lee Roth played B.A. Baracus? Could something finally help me remember a way to tell the difference between Bill Paxton and Bill Pullman? Or hell, maybe we can just Scout Rush those god damn sixth-graders with the power of motherfucking Sky/Net on our side. Finally even up those odds a bit. Damn punks.

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21 Responses to How Video Games Saved Astrophysics

  1. larry says:

    Yes… I will throw down a fiver with you. You are getting me prematurely excited, and I already have one ps3. That makes us 15 ps3s away from seriously fucking up an 8th grader. Or 6th. You know. Whatever. You’re a machine.

  2. Brett says:

    You need a PS3 to fuck up 8th graders? I just challenge them to Yugioh matches and completely ruin them with my machine deck!

    Some one tell me what a vagina is like…

  3. larry says:

    I personally haven’t seen one, but I hear vaginas tastle like rainbows and unicorns. Which is AWESOME! Man I can’t wait to get my first vagina. Fuck, I’m now that lonely person who responds to every single comment on a blog sight. Yes. I’ve become that guy. I like your articles Robert. And you didn’t hear this from me, but someone said that you’re the funniest writer ever. That someone may have been me, but in any case I agree with them. Which is me. I agree with me. And me is always right… Always.

  4. Cousinjo says:

    Really Funny! You have a sick, twiatwd, eloquent, inventive mind! May I have some more??

  5. JD says:

    “So you’re telling me you have yet to unwrap the leprechaun? And the pixie dust? No, sir, directly into the disc tray.”

  6. Brandon says:

    I’ll throw down some money if someone wants to spend a day calculating Pi… Or maybe thats too nerdy even for this site…

  7. larry says:

    Agreed, Rob is an amazingly creative and humourus writer. I find your articles hella-funny and I sometimes think it would be uber-awesome to have that kind of comedic timing in real life. (Along with your sense of humour, good looks, and your hair. I want to cut it off and wear it all over me. What? That’s sick. Don’t be twisted. But seriously I want to cut off your fro and frolick in it, and roll in it, and pour peppermint sauce all over my body while I exclaim your name to the heavens)

    And I told myself I wouldn’t get too serious on the first date.

  8. The indians (from India) tried this first so Dartmouthites get minus points for lack of originality.
    Bla, bla, bla, bla, sexual innuendo directed at Robert. Bla, bla, bla, attempt at humour. Nice article and mustache Robert. I’m tired.

  9. the girlfriend says:

    You would have better luck shaving off and rolling around in his lush, full beard since he cuts his hair to about 1/16 of an inch. Just making sure you get to enjoy a realistic fantasy here.

    And he prefers spearmint.

  10. larry says:

    Don’t try and change me, baby.

  11. deadlytoque says:

    Pullman: Nuke ’em. Let’s nuke the bastards!

  12. nick says:

    That Bill (Paxton/Pullman) thing has confounded me for long enough. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one. But alliteration has always screwed me up. I used to confuse Michael Jackson and Michael Jordan all the time.

  13. aaron says:

    i thought it was the university of massachussetts at dartmouth that did this.

  14. Robert says:


    Did I not credit that correctly? Does Dartmouth refer to a separate institution? I don’t really know, as I don’t actually believe in the East Coast. Nor do I believe in El Dorado, Shangri-La or any of your other fictional wonderlands.


    I used to get it with Gary Busey and Nick Nolte, back in the days before Busey lost his shit on a biblical scale.


    That helps now, but next time I see them I’ll do the same thing. It is a mental illness. Understand and pity, please.


    Thanks and all for simultaneously praising me and skeeving me out, but she’s right – I do not nor have I ever had a fro. I assume you looked up my Myspace. That was a wig. Or you have me confused with Richard Roundtree, which happens with surprising frequency.


    Are you sure it’s not the same thing? The scientists responsible were both Indian…


    A vagina is like pwning n00bs with your penis.

  15. Alex of the Colossus says:

    I think a couple other inquiries that deserve further investigation with a supercomputer are what the Hell happened to Steve Gutenberg and why it’s so easy to confuse Chris Rock with Chris Tucker.

  16. Robert says:

    Steve Gutenberg tried to dance with the stars until they realized he couldn’t dance and wasn’t a star.

    Now he cries.

    Just cries.

  17. larry says:

    I have no idea what you look like, Robert. But I’m an avid fan of using my imagination, because apparently I like people to think I’m creative (i.e. in theory. In fact, I rip all my pictures of google images… ALL of them.)

    To me you will always be a 835 foot towering native-indian, in custom pin-striped suits with a fuck-off huge 60.5 inch afro. Please don’t ruin that image by telling me you’re some other colour… like green or blue. Because your sense of humour is outta this earth…BAM! See how I did that? You see? I did… oh never mind. I thought it was clever.

    Also I’m not sure of the metric units I used. I live in Australia. And we use meters and centimeters over here. I could google a conversion system, but then this information would be credible. Credibility can lick my amazonian hairy ball sack.

  18. Robert says:

    You are a weird dude, larry. Have you met Fortesque? Perhaps you should two should get together over some beers and murdered clowns.

  19. Larry says:

    I know, right? Meters and Centimeters make me insane.

  20. Locke says:

    Great article as always, Robert. I suspect the real problem with using 360s is they’d overheat and come far closer to a virtual sun than a virtual black hole.

  21. J Rylez says:

    I would totally ask the awesome machine how many licks it takes to get to the middle of a tootsie pop, because whenever i do that I realize I am counting licks on a sucker and that I suck.

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