## True Random Number Generator Goes Online 439

Posted
by
ScuttleMonkey

amigoro writes

*"A 'true' random number generator that relies on the unpredictable quantum process of photon emission has gone online providing academic and scientific community access to true random numbers free of charge."*
## lava lamps at SGI (Score:5, Interesting)

ah, SGI....

## Yawn... (Score:2, Interesting)

John Walker (AutoDesk founder) has had a true random number generator available for web access for quite a long time. Looks like his site's currently down, but check out www.fourmilab.ch [fourmilab.ch] when it's sorted -- in addition to the random number generator he has a number of other cool gadgets and info. available.

Oh, and this line from the FA is priceless: "...is connected to the internet through advanced computer technologies such as computer clusters and GRID network." Don't get too technical on me...

## Re:Don't misunderstand (Score:5, Interesting)

## Umm.. (Score:1, Interesting)

## Re:random.org ? (Score:5, Interesting)

## Captchas require calculus (Score:4, Interesting)

## Re:I wonder (Score:3, Interesting)

seedand then mathematically normalize them to produce random numbers that are useful. It's pretty standard stuff.## lava lamps at SGI - lavarand (Score:4, Interesting)

lavarand [wikipedia.org]

A similar LGPL implementation: LavaRnd [lavarnd.org]

## Re:Wow! (Score:0, Interesting)

## Re:Wait... (Score:5, Interesting)

If you put a monkey in front of a typewriter and he types on it for an infinite amount of time, he'll eventually type all of Shakespeare's work.

It's called the Infinite monkey theorem [wikipedia.org]

Ignoring punctuation, spacing, and capitalization, a monkey typing letters uniformly at random has one chance in 26 of correctly typing the first letter of Hamlet. It has one chance in 676 (26 times 26) of typing the first two letters. Because the probability shrinks exponentially, at 20 letters it already has only one chance in 26^20 = 19,928,148,895,209,409,152,340,197,376, roughly equivalent to the probability of buying 4 lottery tickets consecutively and winning the jackpot each time. In the case of the entire text of Hamlet, the probabilities are so vanishingly small they can barely be conceived in human terms. The text of Hamlet, even stripped of punctuation, contains well over 130,000 letters which would lead to a probability of one in 3.4×10^183946.

For comparison purposes, there are only about 10^79 atoms in the observable universe and only 4.3 x 10^17 seconds have elapsed since the Big Bang. Even if the universe were filled with monkeys typing for all time, their total probability to produce a single instance of Hamlet would still be less than one chance in 10183800. As Kittel and Kroemer put it, "The probability of Hamlet is therefore zero in any operational sense of an event...", and the statement that the monkeys must eventually succeed "gives a misleading conclusion about very, very large numbers." This is from their textbook on thermodynamics, the field whose statistical foundations motivated the first known expositions of typing monkeys

## Re:close -- Not really. (Score:2, Interesting)

Quantum scattering (i.e., what happens when really really small particles bounce off of each other) is also not a deterministic process: Identical particles, in exactly the same energy state, will often scatter differently. Looking at particles coming out of a Bose-Einstein condensate is a good example: they are all in exactly the ground state, but come out in random ways.

Yeah, it's weird, and Einstein never got used to it, but his big paradox about it, the EPR paradox, has been shown to physically come down against determinism and hidden variables. So, like it or not, randomness is an inherent part of nature. Deal with it.

## Re:Wait... (Score:4, Interesting)

Let's say my cat just traipsed on my keyboard and typed "dsafhhrnvcdbqwtrwqerwe897509k;ln b,.cnjhcvdsytwejbhd". Yesterday I might have asked you what were the chances of a cat randomly typing "dsafhhrnvcdbqwtrwqerwe897509k;ln b,.cnjhcvdsytwejbhd", and you might have replied "vanishingly small, so much so that it just isn't going to happen in your lifetime". And you'd be right from a statistical point of view. Yet it happened.

## Re:Captchas require calculus (Score:5, Interesting)

I propose adding this to the

## Re:wonky definition of pseudo-random (Score:2, Interesting)

I'll start to list some of the things you're assuming, that are wrong:

(1) The probability distribution of the individual bytes of the memory of your computer is uniform;

(2) The individual bytes of the memory of your computer are independently distributed (i.e., there is no correlation whatsoever between the value of a byte and the values of the surrounding bytes);

(3) If you could invent a "sufficiently arbitrary" method for selecting the bytes, it wouldn't already pay to use the address itself as the random number;

(4) If you construct a float from independently uniformly distributed bytes, the distribution of the value of the float would be the distribution you are interested in (see IEEE_754 [wikipedia.org]);

On the other hand, you are correct that this announcement is mostly a

big yawnbecause:(1) High quality truly random numbers have been available via the Internet a long time (just not from direct quantum sources)

(2) Hardware for generating large quantities of truly random numbers from various noise sources has been available for a long time

(3) Hardware for generating large quantities of truly random numbers directly from quantum sources is now available (Quantis)

(4) A DIY solution for (2) was posted on Slashdot [slashdot.org] recently

## Ummm -- no (Score:2, Interesting)

When I say identical states, I mean identical states. In quantum mechanics, there is an underlying symmetry for exchange of particles. (Integer spin has no change in the wave function at all on particle exchange ==> Bose-Einstein statistics. Half-Integer spin has an inversion in the wave function on particle exchange ==> Fermi-Dirac statistics.) This is not marginal stuff -- it explains why lasers work (integer spin) and atoms have electrons with different energy levels (half integer spin). If we take an atom like Helium (even spin), and do experiments with it, we get the results from Bose-Einstein statistics, which means that the particles must be identical, since otherwise, we couldn't see those results.

I think you are underestimating physics. In physics, we don't talk about something if we can't define what it means. The gold standard in physics is a tested prediction. Almost as good is the testable prediction. The minimum level for something to be called physics (rather than theology) is the thought experiment, which might someday be turned into a real experimental prediction. An affirmative statement in physics requires experimental proof, and disagreeing with an affirmative statement takes at least a prediction why. Gut feelings don't count, and I've got a feeling (this is slashdot, not physics, so I can say that) that a gut feeling is all you have.

## Re:Wait... (Score:2, Interesting)

## Cheapo version (Score:1, Interesting)

1) Detune radio, turn up volume.

2) Attach to audio-in of PC.

3) Sample incoming audio to obtain true random numbers.

## it's been done (Score:2, Interesting)