Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Economist and Formula 1

"Look at me [Marge], I'm reading The Economist! Did you know Indonesia is at a crossroads?" (Homer Simpson).

The Economist magazine has jumped onto the 'Formula 1 is evolutionary' bandwagon, promoted for some time already by McCabism. However, whilst The Economist merely alludes to the potential relevance of genetic algorithms in engineering, McCabism specifically advocates the use of genetic algorithms in Formula 1 aerodynamic design.

The Economist claims, tongue-in-cheek, that the "phylogenesis of Formula One cars — the sequence of changes that have occurred during their evolution — has resulted in a beast with the body of a fish, the wings of a bird and the loins of a cheetah." McCabism, in contrast, has proposed that in zoological terms, racing cars are arthropods, by virtue of possessing: (i) an exoskeleton, which protects the more vulnerable systems ('organs') within; (ii) bilateral mirror symmetry; (iii) a segmented body plan; (iv) jointed attachments ('appendages'), which provide functions such as locomotion; and (v) a metabolism, which burns a source of chemical potential energy to perform useful work, in the process creating waste heat which has to be dissipated to the environment.

Disturbingly, The Economist also claims that "Last Sunday, the race winner and the new world champion, Red Bull Racing’s 23-year-old Sebastian Vettel, had the fastest car in qualifying and throughout the race, thanks to a powerful engine supplied by Renault." Given that the Renault engine is, unfortunately, the least powerful in Formula 1, one hopes that The Economist's analysis of geopolitical finance is generally of a more accurate nature.

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