Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Scott Aaronson is a very patient man...

The latest P=NP saga on comp.theory involved soap bubbles: the first post in the thread:
The paper is the best argument I have heard for P=NP, even though I believe the opposite. It can be found here: http://arxiv.org/abs/cs.CC/0406056. It brings out a great question.

Basically, the argument is that since soap bubbles can be made to solve NP-complete problems, particularly the Steiner tree graph problem, in what appears to be polynomial time and physics on a macroscopic level can be modeled as a Turing machine, it must be true that P=NP.

What I would like to know from any physicists out there is why do soap bubbles work in such a way that they are able to solve the Steiner tree graph problem?How is nature able to quickly solve problems that we cannot solve quickly?
Scott Aaronson, in a post downstream:
Motivated by this newsgroup discussion, this week I did the experiment. At a hardware store I bought two 8"x9" glass plates; paint to mark grid points on the plates; thin copper rods which I cut into 1" pieces; suction cups to attach the rods to the plates; Murphy liquid oil soap; and a plastic tub to hold the soapy water. I also bought work gloves, since at one point I cut my hand handling the glass.
The post continues: read it all. He even has a picture.

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