Measured Against Reality

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Bubble Computers?

Everybody loves bubbles. How can you not? Some people might love bubbles so much that they want to make a computer that calculates with bubbles.

That might seem crazy, but thanks to Manu Prakash and his colleagues at MIT, it may soon be possible. They've built channels that control bubbles in fluid streams, and they can construct analogs of almost every electrical component, from transistors to oscillators. Eventually, they hope to build these up into bubble CPUs and bubble memory.

Well, what's the point? Bubbles are certainly slower than electrons, making a bubble computer much slower than a regular computer. But electrons can't carry payloads, and bubbles can. So the idea is that bubble computers would be much more versatile in analyzing and testing chemical and biological signals, only needing to be reprogrammed to change tasks, while nearly every chemical requires specialized chips today.

Will you be using a bubble computer in the near future? Almost certainly not. But the thought is cool nonetheless.

[Via Buzz Skyline]

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