The Null Device

Oops!

Databases of genetic research data, it has emerged, have been irreversibly corrupted by Microsoft Excel's autocorrection feature. Excel, in its infinite wisdom, assumed that some gene identifiers (such as SEPT2) were really dates (i.e., 2-Sep), and corrected the "mistake"; meanwhile, Excel's floating-point conversions wreaked their own havoc elsewhere. (via bOING bOING)

There are 3 comments on "Oops!":

Posted by: kstop http:// Mon Jul 19 05:11:58 2004

You'd think the 65,536 cells limit would have restricted it to unimportant organisms, but apparently not.

That's not very funny.

Posted by: Itshak http:// Wed Jul 21 15:42:44 2004

What the hell is a floating point conversion (in small words please)?

Posted by: acb http://dev.null.org/ Wed Jul 21 17:11:21 2004

Floating-point is a way of encoding non-integer numbers, by storing a number between, say, 0 and 1 and a magnitude; sort of like scientific notation (i.e., 2,3x10E2 or whatever), only for computers. Anyway, floating point, by its nature, is an approximation, so things get lost in translation (sometimes, for example, storing 3 as a floating-point number may yield 3.0000001 or 2.999999 or somesuch).

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