Via Bruce Sterling, we discover that a group of US physicists have produced a blueprint for a robust nanoscale microprocessor. Not such groundbreaking news, you might think – until you discover that they are entirely based on mechanical principles derived from the famous Babbage Engine, a Victorian-era mechanical computer. [Image by lorentey]
Electronic computers proliferated once semiconductors became a reliable mass-production substrate, but there are some places where electronics are too delicate to operate reliably. Which reminds me of a science fiction novel in which the military spacecraft are fitted with mechanical computers so as not to be susceptible to damage from the EMP of nuclear weapons … a big Futurismic ‘thank you’ to anyone who can remind me of the author and title.
In related news, the ubiquitous Google have added another lump sum to the annual Turing Award, the “highest award in the field of computing science” for innovative ideas.