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Thread: Super-speed Fiber optic computer

  1. #1 Super-speed Fiber optic computer 
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    My understanding is that computers work off the principle of binary code being transmitted through electric currents. Computers are incredibly fast at deciphering this code considering that it consists of only on and off pulses, and therefor takes hundreds of pulses to even type this sentence. Imagine if instead of using electricity, computers used light. I mean light as in the gigantic portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Instead of "1001011100" the pulse would say "28% blue 42% green 30% red". You could program a computer to interpret one color as a command instead of a huge string of data!

    Please offer any elaboration or constructive criticism of my proposal you may have.


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  3. #2  
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    Computers don't decode binary. They use binary in everything they do and only translate that into other things for our benefit.

    But scientists are working on light computers. The increase in transmission speeds (electrons in wires are slow) is the big gain to be had there. While it may be possible to superimpose various colors of photons to increase the bandwidth further, it'll still be binary in the end. Either there's a photon or there isn't. (Colors don't actually work that way anyway. RGB is only used by your monitor because you eye has red, green and blue receptors.)


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  4. #3  
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    Hmmm... There are people out there smarter than my science teacher -_- How about titanium superconductors? There are some of those that offer minuscule to no electron resistance. That would be faster (if not economically available). It still wouldn't be as awesome as GLaDOS the rainbow computer.
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  5. #4  
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    AFAIK titanium isn't a superconductor. The problem with superconductors is that so far all of them need to be cooled to extremely low temperatures to work. Too cold to be useful in everyday stuff. That, and the electrons in a superconductor don't travel any faster. They are useful though as they don't have any resistance, so they don't have nearly as much heat build up, for example.
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    I never said titanium was a superconductor ( I must have thought of niobium titanium). There are indeed superconductors with almost no electrical resistance. BTW, not all superconductors conduct heat, some are electrical.
    Last edited by 21st Centurion; May 17th, 2014 at 11:19 PM.
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  7. #6  
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    I have no idea what you're talking about. All superconductors conduct electricity and all require supercooling to superconduct. (Niobium-titanium in particular requires temperatures below -443 F.) And the heat generated by electrons flowing through a wire is one of the big reasons why superconductors are so interesting. Without that resistance, heat and the associated issues go away.
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    Why isn't there a superconducting computer on the Space Station if they have extremely low temperatures on the outside of the hull ?

    Also there would be no need to make it small as there is no gravity and there is all the room they could wish for (it could be a cubic kilometre in volume if it was in the shade couldn't it?

    Is copper also superconducting at very low temperatures?
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  9. #8  
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    No, copper isn't a superconductor (from what I can find). And outside the space station is only cold when it isn't in the sun. Even then, the heat from the crew and on board systems will make things warmer than what you'd expect. (Heat management is a big issue in space since the only way to lose heat is by radiation.)

    And they'd still need to make it small since it costs huge amounts of money to lift things in to space. (About a thousand dollars per pound using the newest launchers.)
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  10. #9  
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    I could be wrong but I thought all metals were superconducting at a low enough temperature.(if they aren't all might there be a cheap metal that was - until graphene wires come on stream !)

    When I said it could be large I just meant there would be no need to miniaturize and could use as much volume as required -that mightn't mean extra weight.

    Ye I suppose proximity to the Space Station would be a problem but couldn't you just build a "fence" to shield the sun's rays at a far enough distance from the actual Space Station?(1 kilometre?) and put the computer there to perform its calculations?

    I suppose you could capture the results with wifi or some kind of optical beam perhaps.

    Please don't ruin my dream!!!
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  11. #10  
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    A superconducting computer would actually be easier to deal with on the ground where you could build a giant refrigeration plant next door (and, say, dump all the excess heat into the ocean or something). In space, there's just no where for heat to go, so it tends to build up.

    Superconducting computers are being looked at, if for no other reason than that they overlap a lot with quantum computers, which also need to be supercooled (for a slightly different reason). What everyone is hoping/looking for is a room temperature superconductor (and similarly, a way to maintain a quantum superposition at room temperature).
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