Delta-10 is not an ice cream flavor or a type of gardening. Delta-10 is a method. It was devised by biologists, who use it to design experiments in which they measure how much something grows.
The method works as follows: First you figure out how much food each plant needs, and you make that amount available to the plants. Then you count how many plants grow, and multiply by the number of plants you have available. This gives you a number called the “basic reproductive rate.” Since there are fixed amounts of land, water and fertilizer on Mars, this number can be used to predict how much food will grow at any given time.
Delta-10 is a language used by computers to represent numbers. It is like the mathematical version of text, except that numbers are represented by strings of ten digits, not letters.
If you have worked with other languages, this may seem strange. Used to it? Then you know that most people think of programming as taking commands or data and making your computer do something. It’s unfamiliar to think of programming as talking to your computer.
But the computer doesn’t actually have to understand what you’re saying. If your computer speaks English, it could keep translating your words into French and back again until the end of time and still not make any mistakes. Delta-10 is just like that— except that its words don’t need to be understandable by humans at all.
The Delta-10 program
This program was first described in 1988, and there’s no other way to say this: it is a very strange thing. You are not supposed to admit that you’re involved with it, and if you do, it’s considered bad form. The program includes some of the most successful people in the world, from software designer Bill Gates to novelist Salman Rushdie to entrepreneur Steve Jobs. It may be the only place where some of them know each other.
The first thing you need to know about Delta-10 is that it doesn’t exist. There is no one-to-one correspondence between people in Delta-10 and people in the real world. If anything, there are more Delta-10 people than there are real people. Their number changes constantly, sometimes several times a day.
Delta 10 has an entirely different technology from ours: they talk to each other without using any electromagnetic signals whatsoever. They call it subquantum communication.
The Delta-10 is a way of measuring how cold or hot the climate is. If you want to know what the weather will be like in your town or country tomorrow, or next year, or ten years from now, you need to know how cold or hot it is now. The Delta-10 is a handy way of comparing future temperatures with todays.
Delta-10 is also a common unit
When British people arrive in America they are often surprised that American weather reports don’t use it. When Americans go back to Britain they are surprised by the cold weather.
Delta-10 is not a very good measure of temperature; it turns out that temperatures vary too much over the short term for any reasonably accurate predictions to be possible. But it’s a convenient and standardized way of comparing different places, and it’s handy for rough estimates.
When people say “Delta-10,” they usually mean the Delta-10 THC, or the Standard Delta-10, or just the Delta-10 conspiracy, which is what I’m talking about here. It has become a kind of shorthand for the standard way to do statistics in the United States.
Delta-10 started more than 50 years ago as a way to make it easy for people who were just learning statistics to get started. It was introduced in the 1960s by George Efron, a statistician at the University of Chicago.
The idea was that if you want to know something quantitative about a sample–say, how many decayed teeth there are in an entire population–you first have to decide how large a sample you need: how many people you’re going to count. If you don’t do this right away, you may end up with an answer that’s too big or too small. Then when you take your sample, you have to be careful not to miss any teeth; otherwise the question you’re answering will be wrong.
A method that did all this automatically would be ideal. But no such method existed until Efron invented Delta-10. At first it seemed like overkill: why not just use arithmetic? But over time its virtues became apparent.
Delta-10 is a remarkable number: a number that appears in several contexts, and which can be used to describe things equally well in all of them. It doesn’t quite have the right kind of versatility to stand for “nothing” or “everything,” but it’s not far off.
The number 10 has always been a natural one to use when talking about something that is both big and important and small and trivial. Math is full of examples, like the number 10,000, which we call a billion. A billion seconds ago is 10 years ago; billion seconds hence is 2037. Billion dollars would pay for a round trip to Mars; A billion dollars would buy you an ice cream cone on a hot day. The point is that if you want to talk about what’s really big, you use the word “billion.”
But in this context, “billion” is ambiguous: it can mean either very big or very small. A billion dollars could pay for the ice cream cone or buy you a trip to Mars, depending on how much money you have.
Delta-10 was invented by Tony Phillips of MIT as an alternative way of talking about numbers that are both big and important and small and trivial.
Delta-10 is a complete programming language designed to be easy to learn and use. It comes with a complete set of libraries that allow you to write programs in it in just five minutes. It has no prerequisites: it can be used right out of the box, without having to read any programs or documentation.