Hot Ice Computer

A massively-parallel computing device made from supersaturated solutions of sodium acetate? The basic idea is to use the wavefront of crystallization to perform calculations; the speed of the wavefront through the solution and the way it interacts with other wavefronts performs calculations.

Most experimental prototypes of unconventional computers either require a tailored hardware interface (analog computers, liquid crystals) and specialized equipment (memristors, gas-discharge systems), or they may have intrinsic limitations on the speed of computation (reaction-diffusion chemical processors). Physarum computer is the simplest to build but the most difficult to control, due to the sensitivity and somewhat unpredictable behaviour of the living creature.

We aim, therefore, to provide an example of a novel computing material which is cheap to build, requires minimal resources to operate, implements computational procedures relatively quickly and is capable of solving a wide range of computationally-hard tasks. We show that sodium acetate trihydrate (colloquially called ‘hot ice’ due to its resemblance to ice and its crystalline behaviour) perfectly fits our specification of an ‘ideal DIY unconventional computer’ because it solves a variety of tasks by traveling and interacting waves of crystallization in its supersaturated solution.


(Hot Ice computer video)

"A supersaturated solution of sodium acetate, commonly called 'hot ice', is a massively-parallel unconventional computer. In the hot ice computer data are represented by a spatial configuration of crystallization induction sites and physical obstacles immersed in the experimental container. Computation is implemented by propagation and interaction of growing crystals initiated at the data-sites. We discuss experimental prototypes of hot ice processors which compute planar Voronoi diagram, shortest collision-free paths and implement AND and OR logical gates.

In the video, sites where crystallization was induced by the pins are encircled. The planar Voronoi diagram of yields the same result as obtained by classical algorithm."

When I read about this, I thought about how it might be possible to create a very large crystalline computer system - and it would make a cool clubhouse as well.


(Superman's Fortress of Solitude)

Update: Roger Zelazny fans might also recall Speicus, the crystallized protein artificial intelligence, from his remarkable 1976 book Doorways in the Sand. End update.

From Hot Ice Computer (pdf) via Technology Review.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/6/2009)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Computer ")

String Art Courtesy Of Robot Artist
The number of different ways to span a thread between a larger number of hooks is astronomical.

Tetraplegics Dominate Avatar Races
Well, just speaking brain-to-computer...

IBM's Grain Of Sand Computer
'Our ancestors... thought to make the very sand beneath their feet intelligent...' - Stanislaw Lem, 1965.

Can An Entire Brain Be Simulated In A Computer?
'The miles of relays and photocells had given way to the spongy globe of platinum iridium about the size of the human brain.' - Isaac Asimov, 1941.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Musk Declares Tesla Supercharger Capacity Will Double By Next Year
'Recharge the batteries... in almost every town and village...'

Drywall Robot Looking For Sheetrock
Sheetrockers have sure changed since my day.

Ford's Autonomous Cabs 'Transportation As A Service'
'He was glad to crawl into his autocab and close the cover.'

Sex In Driverless Cars?
'...admirable for petting.'

Amazing Kepler Space Telescope Decommissioned By NASA
'Thus it came about that the search for a planetiferous sun... was not unduly prolonged...'

ODYSSEUS Solar-Powered Stratospheric Plane Flies Forever
'The planes flew continuously, twenty-four hours a day...'

Augmented and-or Virtual Reality Shoes From Google
'The auto-treadmill's bumps and gullies matched whatever terrain the goggles showed me...'

Soon, Your Tesla Will Follow You Like A Pet
'... follow him as faithfully as a well-trained hound.'

Chinese Watrix Gait Recognition Watching You Always
'... those pesky gait-recognition cameras.'

FlexPai Foldable Phone By Royole
'...A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled.'

Bioreactor Helps Legless Frogs Get Their Jump Back
'An alien drug... Used by an insect race... It can repair bones and organs. It can grow new tissue."

Oh Yes, We're Building The Rotating Tower In Dubai
'Give me an old-fashioned tetragon on a central pivot every time.'

Xinhua AI Anchor Puts CGI Face To Automated News
'...a congeries of software agents.'

Wirewax Watching You Watch, Adjusting Your Experience
'He adjusted the n, the r and b knobs, and hopefully anticipated a turn for the better...'

LawGeex AI Beats 20 Top Lawyers
'The Law Society has strict rules on the use of pseudo-intelligent software - terrified of putting... its members out of work.'

ROAM Robotics Skiing Exoskeleton
'The real genius in the design is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.