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 ")

Neuromorphic Computing Hardare
'He had constructed an organ, a brain, of metal, entirely inorganic and lifeless...' - Edmond Hamilton, 1926.

Finally! Microsoft Surface Neo And Surface Duo Implement Excellent Courier Idea
'Runcible, whose pages were thicker and more densely packed with computational machinery...' - Neal Stephenson, 1995.

Tap Strap 2 Now With Air Mouse
'He waved his hand and the circuit switched abruptly.' - Philip K. Dick, 1955.

Entire Planet Modeled In New MS Flight Sim
'CIC uses [it] to keep track of every bit of spatial information that it owns...' - Neal Stephenson, 1992.

 

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

Trash Sorting AI Robot Presages Skynet, Thanks A Lot
Keep your head down, Kyle Reese.

Electric Unicycle Is A Tumblebug
'A tumblebug does not give a man dignity, since it is about the size and shape of a kitchen stool, gyro-stabilized on a single wheel.'

Another Soil Bacterium Eats Plastic
'...the plastic was dissolved before his eyes.'

reLive Memorial Come Back As A Tree
'It was time - time to go again. She touched the leaf. She was wanted.'

Engineered Living Building Materials
'... it was the cheapest building material known.'

Draw Circuits With Conductive Ink
'It's rewiring things... squeezing silver toothpaste in a ribbon along the printed circuitry.'

Arkangel: Automatic Visual Censoring
It's whatever the Party says it is, Winston.

NASA Competition To Design A Bucket Drum For Moon Mining
'There was a heap of discarded ore where Grantline had carted and dumped it...'

Medical Assistant Robot May Roam The Halls Of Hospitals
'Take care, sir.'

No Autonomous Trucks? Wait, What?
'...it resembled conventional human-operated transportation vehicles, but with one exception -- there was no driver's cabin.'

As Big As A Biltong - World's Largest 3D Printer
'Huge and old, it squatted in the center of the settlement park... On the concrete platform... lay a heap of originals to be duplicated.'

Drones Used To Smuggle Contraband Into Prison
'And some mega chip inside so it never runs into anything and no cop ever sees it.'

Are You Ready For Commercial Space Travel?
'It wasn't a pleasant trip; it was a miserable trip on a miserable, undersized tourist rocket...'

Amplified Nerves Lead To Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Hands
'The electrical impulses generated by your brain command everything...'

FlyCroTug Micro Drones Do Heavy Lifting
'It extended three of its tiny arms sideways to lock on...'

Virtual Whitney Houston In Concert
Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang

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.