Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Antique engines inspire nano chip

Mechanical computers are nothing new. The remains of a 2,000 year old analogue computer known as the Antikythera mechanism were discovered in Greece in 1902.

And during the 19th Century, English mathematician and engineer Charles Babbage designed various steam-powered mechanical computers.

His "difference engine", for example, consisted of more than 25,000 individual levers, ratchets and cogs and weighed more than 13 tonnes.

Although none of his designs were ever finished, recent reconstructions by London's Science Museum show they were capable of carrying out complex calculations.

The US team's proposal owes a debt to these early concepts.

"It's inspired by Babbage's ideas but these days we can scale it down," Professor Blick told the BBC News website.

"Now, we are able to process devices on the nano scale."

Does this qualify as "steampunk"?


Anonymous said...

It qualifies as Ken Macleod.

- razorsmile

Mac said...

That it does!

Anonymous said...

One interesting thing about the Babbage Difference Engine is that he actually hired a programmer for it. The woman he hired basically invented the computer program and programming languages.

--WMB as Anon

mr. intense said...


Mangawitch said...

Definately Steampunk!