April 17th, 2006

  • roybot

My taxes, should I choose to report them

The meltdown was provided courtesy of one small black cat. It was Thursday, May Sixth, 2004, and the feed was idle. At any time, no small amount of hydrogen, helium, and other lower elements were flowing at breakneck speed. The dual VAXes that kept track of the primary flow hummed along quietly.

But not all was well in the idyllic world of the feed. So simple was the error, that the designers of the protocol, hailing back from metaverse days, didn't see it coming. "Within the frame," came a command from Dr. T. Acquiescing to his request, they lowered their primary defenses, quickly switching to authorization mode. Immediately as this happened, Dr. X, on the opposite side of the feed sent a reverse authentication request for Dr. T with one frame out of sequence - the security context.

The two requests overlapped in memory. Attempting to authorize against this invalid security context, the system lost track of the current instruction, and fell off the end of available memory. Normally, this would cause a fatal trap, and each system would reboot, independent of each other. However, the security context ended up such that the processors were launched into privileged mode, ring 0, and executed the bytestream at CS:IP 0:0. The deadly instructions at that location on the first VAX caused the feed control to activate its molecular synth, generating a microscopic amount of uranium and letting it free into the feed. Infinitely. The second VAX had a slightly different instruction, and it was to wait.

And wait it did. Until the primary controller reported that the feed was depleted. Creating uranium out of hydrogen and helium is no small feat, and the system knew this. However, the rest routines on both control machines were also overwritten by Dr. X and Dr. T's invalid commands, and caused a short rest to allow the feedhorns to recover, and immediately afterward, manufacture a large neutron stream. Critical mass was no trouble for the uranium-saturated feed. Meltdown happened fairly instantly. I was the only one to escape unscathed.

Posted by Mr. The Plague (mastar of teh gibson)