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The Speed of Light, Donal Trump and PFLOPS

December 10th, 2016 by Michael Dyet

Hmmm, can the speed of light squared help me escape the splatter zone of the Donald Trump coronation?

Earlier this week, the Google doodle celebrated the 340th anniversary of the determination of the speed of light. In case you did not know, Danish astronomer Ole Romer made the discovery while working at the Royal Observatory in Paris in 1667.

For the record, light travels at 186,000 miles per second. Tough to grasp that concept, so a bit of perspective is needed. If I could travel at the speed of light, I could circle the equator 7-1/2 times in one second. I’m skeptical so let me give it a try… Oh, crap, I blinked and missed it! On the plus side, I did lap Donald Trump 7-1/2 times. But it doesn’t make him any less disturbing.

It does get me to thinking. Is there such a thing as the speed of sound? Turns out there is, although hearing is the tortoise in the light and hearing match race. Sound plods along at a mind-numbing 761 miles per second.

That assumes that the air temperature is 59º Fahrenheit. Why? Because sounds moves slower at colder temperatures. Why is 59º Fahrenheit the threshold? That’s just one of the great mysteries of life.

I wonder. If I yell “Donald Trump is a nutbag!” while travelling at the speed of light, how long will it take for that phrase to catch up with me? I think I need a supercomputer for that calculation.

The Sunway Taihulight, the fastest supercomputer in the world, should do the trick. But hold on. It seems the performance of supercomputers is measured in floating-point operations per second aka FLOPS. That sounds like a Trumpism! But let’s overlook that for the moment.

The Sunway set the new benchmark of 93 PFLOPS. PFLOPS? Seriously? You must be yanking my cyber chain. Oh wait, P=Peta, so that clears things up. I had one of those for lunch today. Didn’t make me any faster, though.

Has “Donald Trump is a nutbag!” caught up with me? Not yet, apparently. Okay, while we wait, let’s go for ride in the world’s fastest car. The Hennessey Venom GT maxes out at 270 miles per hour and goes from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 2.5 seconds.

Got to get me one of those. But I’ll need to travel at least at the speed of sound to earn the money since they go for a cool $1,000,000. Or maybe I could get a loan from Donald.

All these hyper accelerations are giving me a huge headache. Let’s slow things down. How many PLFOPs does it take the Sunway to decipher a metaphor at 53º Fahrenheit while being transported in a Hennessey Venom GT traveling at 270 mph to try and get out of the splatter zone before the Trump coronation takes place?

Hint: You have to divide by the speed of light squared every 2.5 seconds while clicking your heels together and chanting Oh Hillary, Hillary, Hillary.

Ready – Set – Go! Are we there yet?

~ Michael Robert Dyet is the author of “Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel” – double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at or the novel online companion at

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