Damian Conway Blew My Mind

Two nights ago I attended Damian Conway’s excellent talk: “Temporally Quaquaversal Programming In Multiple Topologically Connected Quantum-Relativistic Parallel Timespaces … Made Easy!” My notes said that he left out the “Virtual Nanomachine” part of the talk title, although he did talk about virtual nanomachines.

The talk was a preview of the keynote session that Damian will be giving at OSCON, and we were lucky enough to see it here in Toronto due to the diligence of Richard Dice, Mike Stok and the Toronto.PM PerlMongers group (with financial help from TorCamp).

I’ve never seen Damian talk, but he lived up to the hype. I don’t want to give too much away, so that if you have the chance to see this talk, you should do so. But it hit on some of my favourite topics: physics, Feynman diagrams, the origin of the “penguin diagram”, anti-particles, and of course, Perl. The end result was a Perl module that can have “positronic” variables that run backwards through your program, analogous to the simplified idea that a positron is an electron running backwards through time (although it isn’t, really). So you declare them at the top of the program, use their results immediately, and then only have to calculate the result at any later point in your program. Kinda like in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, when they kept saying that they, at some future point in time, would travel from the future back to the past and leave <insert totally useful device here> behind the couch for the present Bill and Ted to use.

One recommendation, though; given the crazy verb tenses that Damian had to use to describe the behaviour of his positronic variables, I think he should pick up a copy of Dr Dan Streetmentioner’s Time Traveller’s Handbook of 1001 Tense Formations before giving the talk at OSCON.