N.J. Congressman: I beat Watson

Rep. Rush Holt, a Democrat with a Ph.D. in physics and an actual former "Jeopardy" champion, outsmarts the notoriously brainy supercomputer in an exhibition match in D.C.

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy
2 min read
Congressman Rush Holt, the New Jersey Democrat who defeated the Watson supercomputer in Jeopardy. Rep. Rush Holt

An IBM supercomputer named Watson has made headlines for the past month for its ability to defeat the most successful human champions from classic game show "Jeopardy"--but it looks like one New Jersey congressman, Rush Holt, got the better of Watson in a round of the game in Washington, D.C., last night.

"I played a full round against @IBMWatson tonight and was proud to hold my own: the final tally was Holt $8,600, Watson $6,200," tweeted the Democratic Congressman, who has represented New Jersey's 12th district, a section of the middle of the state just north of capital city Trenton, since 1999. Though the match was not televised, there was at least one witness: Connecticut Rep. Jim Himes, who tweeted at the time, "I seriously CANNOT believe that @rushholt beat @ibmwatson.

To be fair, Holt boasts all sorts of credentials that, while none of it speaks directly to his ability to be a successful elected official, indicates that he's a huge nerd who would be very good at trivia games.

He's a nuclear physicist, something that his supporters proudly tout on bumper stickers that read "My Congressman is a rocket scientist." Holt also owns a patent for a "method for maintaining a correct density gradient in a non-convecting solar pond," has authored papers in a number of scientific research journals, and as the local press has pointed out, is a five-time "Jeopardy" champion.

(Disclosure: I lived in NJ-12 as a kid and am proud that a notable resident of my home state has made headlines for doing something that has nothing to do with political corruption, mobster hit jobs, or a gym-tan-laundry routine.)