The Nine Billion Names of God

If you like The Last Question I posted yesterday, you’ll like this short story by Arthur C. Clarke (he of the 2001: A Space Odyssey fame). For those of you with aversion to sci-fi, don’t worry, it’s a really easy read. The story is set in the 1950s, not in some imaginary epoch a billion years into the future. None of these Isaac Asimov cosmic nonsense. Also, the story is quite short.


The Nine Billion Names of God

by Arthur C. Clarke

“This is a slightly unusual request,” said Dr. Wagner, with what he hoped was commendable restraint. “As far as I know, it’s the first time anyone’s been asked to supply a Tibetan monastery with an automatic sequence computer. I don’t wish to be inquisitive, but I should hardly thought that your –ah– establishment had much use for such a machine. Could you explain just what you intend to do with it?”

“Gladly,” replied the lama, readjusting his silk robe and carefully putting away the slide rule he had been using for currency conversions. “Your Mark V computer can carry out any routine mathematical operation involving up to ten digits. However, for our work we are interested in letters, not numbers. As we wish you to modify the output circuits, the machine will be printing words, not columns of figures.”

(Read the rest of the story HERE.)


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