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Chapter 1. Riddles for the Information A... > What Do You Get When You Cross a Com...

What Do You Get When You Cross a Computer with a Warship?

In September 1997, while conducting fleet maneuvers in the Atlantic, the USS Yorktown, one of the Navy's new Aegis guided-missile cruisers, stopped dead in the water. A Navy technician, while calibrating an on-board fuel valve, entered a zero into one of the shipboard management computers, a Pentium Pro running Windows NT. The program attempted to divide another number by that zero—a mathematically undefined operation—which resulted in a complete crash of the entire shipboard control system. Without the computers, the engine halted and the ship sat wallowing in the swells for two hours and 45 minutes until it could be towed into port. Good thing it wasn't in a war zone.


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