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- 1 Computronium Rewrite Draft
- 1.1 Macroscale computronium
- 1.2 Microscale computronium
- 1.3 Nanoscale computronium
- 1.4 Theoretical limits to computronium density
- 1.5 Possible applications of computronium
- 1.6 Computronium in fiction
- 1.7 External References
- 1.8 Magic and the world of the Harry Potter universe
- 1.9 Magical Abilities
- 1.9.1 Human magical abiliies abilities
- 18.104.22.168 Shape shifting
- 22.214.171.124 Spellcasting
- 126.96.36.199 Spell like effects & Rituals
- 188.8.131.52 Speaking parseltongue
- 184.108.40.206 Legilimency
- 220.127.116.11 Occlumency
- 18.104.22.168 Apparition
- 22.214.171.124 Magic resistance
- 1.9.2 Non-human magical abilities
- 1.9.1 Human magical abiliies abilities
- 1.10 Singularity introduction
- 1.11 Egalitarian
- 1.12 AfD nomination of Spells in Harry Potter
Computronium Rewrite Draft
Computronium is a term used to describe a substance which results from a reorganization of matter which increases the amount of computing capacity (perhaps represented by some performance metric such as FLOPS?) within a given volume of space, utilizing a finite amount of energy. Futurists, science fiction authors, and transhumanist thinkers often use the generic term to refer to nanoscale computronium: macroscopic collections of networked nanoscale computers.
It can be argued that Macroscopic Computronium exists today, and indeed, has existed for millenium, but most interest in the idea of computronium seems to be focused on varieties composed of nanoscale elements, and computronium whose density and performance approaches the theoretical limits imposed by our current understanding of physics. It is the (possible) uses of the massive amounts of computing power inherient in large amounts of such "dense" computronium that have driven the speculation about computronium in transhumanist circles.
If computronium is defined as matter organized to increase the computing capability within a limited voulume of space, and utilizing a limited amount of energy, it has existed for millenia.
The abacus and the difference engine designed by Charles Babbage are physical constructs which meet this definition; they are organizations of matter that have more computing capability than "dead matter" of equal mass, such as a rock.
The states of such information storage and processing systems (really finite state machines) are represented by the organization of macroscopic blocks of matter, and processing (or state transition) is accomplished by macroscopic manipulation of that matter - such as the sliding of an abacus bead from one side it's frame to the other, or the incrementation of a ratcheted gear's postition in a difference engine.
There are limits to the "computational density" of such "macroscopic computronium". Abaccii cannot be used if made too small, and there are limits to how small machining techniques can make the structure of Babbage's difference engine (although the concepts behind it can be resurrected at the nanoscale level - see below). To create computronium of higher density and speed, a new approach must be found, and indeed has been found in modern electronics.
Modern micro-electronics may also be viewed as type of computronium. Here, material organization (accomplished through photolithography) is on the micometer scale, as opposed to the decimeter or centimeter scale of the abacus and difference engine.
The means that computation is carried out is much different than macroscale computronium - utilizing controlled flow of electrical current rather than physical manipulation. This means that such computronium is not bound by the same limits of size and speed as it's macroscopic cousin.
The density and capability of such "microelectronic computronium" has been increasing steadily, following Moore's Law. The ultimate limits of microelectronic density and speed are not yet known. Limiting factors include the limits of manufacturing techiques, the theoretical physical limits of how small micro-electronic structures can be made, and the thermal effects inherient in the flow of electrical current. Currently, alternate manufacturing strategies such as X-ray lithography and multi-layer microchip designs are being pursued to increase component density. Electronic components have been constructed in the multi-nanometer range - including MOSFET transistor channels of 6.3 nanometres - and the uses of nanotubes as MOSFET gates has demonstrated that at least some electronic components can be contrsucted on the 1 nanometer scale. Thermal effects can be reduced by pursuing the strategy of low-power electronic design. Still, even given these strategies, there must ultimatly be limits as the density, efficiency, and capability of microelectronics as computronium.
Nanoscale computronium is material organized at the atomic level to create a computing system, or a network of computing systems. Relativly little experimental work has gone into the creation of nanoscale computers specifically (work in molecular manufacturing has yet to get that specific), so most of the thought concerning this type of "computronium" is speculative and theoretical.
Typcially when dicussing computronium, futurists and science fiction authors are refering to a type of nanoscale computronium, or large collections of networked nanoscale computers (such as K. Eric Drexler did in his book Engines of Creation). It is often assumed that such computronium would be produced by means of an application of molecular nanotechnologythat would allow for production of macroscopically large "chunks" of the material.
The precise make up of such dense computronium is still a matter of speculation, although most refernces to nanoscale computronium seem to lean toward a mechanical inplementation (see below) because nanoscale mechanical devices seem to the be the easiest to design and fabricate (we already have seen examples of atomic scale machines being constructed in labratories - see referances below).
The computational speed and denity limits of nanoscale comuptronium are also a matter of speculation and debate, however it seems likely that contruction of networked computers on this scale will be much faster than microelectronic computers. The postulated nanotechnological production of nanoscale computronium would create vast numbers of individual computers, which could lead to a massively parallel computer system. Additionally, the extremely small physical scale would drastically reduce propagation delay within and between the nanoscale computers.
Currently, we do not have the means to fabricate nanoscale computers, nor do we have the theoretical communication models or computer architectures that would allow the coordinated working of the trillions of computer processors that would comprise even small macroscopic quantities of nanoscale computronium. Still, the allure of such a substance, produced in industrial quantities is strong, as it would provide us with levels of computational capacity hardly imaginable by today's standards.
There are three basic theortical concepts for how such nanoscale computers would work.
Mechanical nanoscale computronium
Electronic nanoscale computronium
As has already been noted, techniques of molecular manufacturing already have produced nanoscale electronic compoments in laboratory conditions . It seems obvious then that electronic computers can at least approach nanoscale densities. Whether electronic design is the most practical or efficient at this scale is another matter: high density electronics suffer from thermal problems due to the flow of electronic current. At nanoscales, thermal loads may become unmanagable.
Optical nanoscale computronium
Sub-atomic particle theory applied to computronium
Theoretical limits to computronium density
Possible applications of computronium
However, it was the idea of the massive computational resources made possible by creation of large amounts of nanoscale computronium that caused transhumanist thinkers to coin the term, to differentiate computronium from "just computers", and to concentrate on the nanoscale implementations of computronium. The amount of computational capability inherient in large amounts of nanoscale computronium makes it possible to realize (or at least faciliates) some of the goals deemed possible by transhumanist thinkers, such as,
- The creation of artificial intelligence.
- Mind transfer, and immortality through mind transfer.
- Creation of highly detailed, large scale virtual enviroments.
- The development of new technologies made possible by the amounts of computing power created, and not even concieved of at this point.
- The faciliation of a technological singularity.
Essentially, nanoscale computronium could be used wherever there modern computers are (or could be) used today - since microelectronics can be described as a species of computronium. However theortical nanoscale implementations of computronium, produced in industrial quantities, would very likely open up uses and possibilites not even concieved of at present.
Computronium in fiction
The implications of the existence of large quantaties of nanoscale computronium has begun to be explored in speculative fiction influenced by transhumanist philosophy.
One concept invented by futurists, based on nanoscale computronium, and explored by the stories of the author Charles Stross, is that of the Matrioshka brain. Such a structure is a series of nested Dyson shells composed mostly of nanoscale computronium, in order to most efficiently utilize all of a star's energy output for purposes of computation. The immense amount of computational capactiy in such a structure cannot be easily imagined.
- The full text online text of K. Eric Drexler's book Engines of Creation - which deals in part with nanoscale computronium - can be found online at the Foresite Institute.
- Charles Stross's book Accelerando is strewn with references to, and uses of, nanoscale computronium. The full text of the novel (in HTML, Rich Text format, PDF, Plucker ebook, and Palm Doc formats) can be found on the novel's website.
Magic and the world of the Harry Potter universe
The existance and nature of Magic
Seperation of Magic: The Wizarding world
Human magical abiliies abilities
Classes of Spells
Spell like effects & Rituals
The Unbreakable Vow
The Priori Incantatem
Non-human magical abilities
The Veela Charm
Thanks for your comments on the Technological singularity introduction. I've responded on Talk:Technological singularity, because I think the discussion would benefit to be open to the public. -- Schaefer 05:01, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
done, sorry to keep you waiting. Zargulon 17:10, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
AfD nomination of Spells in Harry Potter
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