[Beowulf] Re: Linux laptops, and M$ advertisement

David Mathog mathog at caltech.edu
Tue Apr 17 10:39:23 PDT 2007

"Peter St. John" <peter.st.john at gmail.com> wrote:
> 4. Physicist who builds his own damn Supercomputer agonizes for days over
> the emergency shut off switch wiring, because he can, he teaches
> electricity; but he could just walk one hundred yards down Science
Drive and
> get an EE grad student to do it for him.

The problem with the Emergency Stop switch is not designing or
building the electrical wiring to implement it, it's interpreting
the electrical code to determine if one is required.  Parts of the
code were apparently written by a Zen master so that the answer to
what seems like a straighforward question "do we need an
Emergency Stop switch?" depends on the answer to "is this room full
of machines a machine room"?  The latter is apparently an
electrical code koan, as only the enlightened can divine the answer.
And maybe not even then - there seems to be room for considerable debate
on the issue.  Indeed, the answer may depend not so much on what
the room holds, but rather on how it was wired, as certain sections
of the code may be "relaxed" in machine room construction.

Suffice it to say that a definitive "required" or "not required"
has not yet been obtained from the folks in charge of the room's


David Mathog
mathog at caltech.edu
Manager, Sequence Analysis Facility, Biology Division, Caltech

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