Thomas Nicely’s life was going pretty well at Lynchburg College. He was a math
professor in this small college in a small town. And he liked the life very
much. He loved math and theoretical research. One day Thomas took his new
computer with the blazing fast pentium chip in it and did a little division.
One day he asked this new computer chip with the blinding speed to divide some
numbers. He also asked four other computers without the pentium chip to do
the division. The pentium chip answer was 1.212659624891157804, but it was the
wrong answer. The correct answer was 1.21265962940866695. On the ninth digit
from the decimal point the answer is wrong.
For most of us there is no problem. Most of us would never discover that
mistake. But it is not correct. It is not true. And given the right
circumstances it could prove disastrous. It is just a small mistake.
Illustration from: David Clay, “Poinsettias and Collards,” Ocean View Baptist
Church, Norfolk, Virginia
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