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Fluid Logic Chips250

Doc Ruby writes "Colorado researchers 'have constructed microfluidic gates that use the relative flow resistance of liquid to carry out the basic logic operations NOT, AND, OR, XOR, NOR and NAND. The researchers have also combined a pair of gates into a half adder, which carries out half the operation of addition.' All CPUs processing binary logic are made of these types of gates, but usually execute as flows of electrons in wires, not fluids in tubes. Will this advance revolutionize chemistry and computing the way electric gates revolutionized electronics and computing? Will 'fluid programmers' give new meaning to "flowchart"?"
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Fluid Logic Chips

• How fast? (Score:3, Interesting)

on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @08:01PM (#10455519) Homepage
How fast could this ever be? Neat, but I dunno how this could ever be put to a practical use. Cool hack none the less.
• Re:How fast? (Score:2)

Speed of Light vs. Speed of Sound in a Fluid?

Which is faster?

• Re:How fast? (Score:5, Informative)

on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @08:14PM (#10455612) Homepage
I think you mean the speed of electrons. Electrons can't travel the speed of light (in a vacuum) [anl.gov]
• Re:How fast? (Score:2)

Ok so lets say an electron can go at 1/10 the speed of light in a vacuum that is still a lot faster then we can move an object bigger then an atom.
• Re:How fast? (Score:4, Interesting)

<spamwich.gmail@com> on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @08:39PM (#10455794)
that is still a lot faster then we can move an object bigger then an atom.

True, but you wouldn't necessarily need to move a specific liquid molecule through an entire path/circuit. For example, say you have a tube filled with water, and you were to apply pressure on one end, almost instantly, water would be expelled from the other end. The "distance" that any single molecule of water along the path would need to travel depends only on how much water you want to get out of the other end.

For lack of a better analogy, it would be like poking someone with a stick rather than throwing a rock at them - travel time is mostly eliminated.
• Re:How fast? (Score:5, Informative)

on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @08:52PM (#10455873) Journal
almost instantly, water would be expelled from the other end.

You can quantify that better. It basically travels at the speed of sound in the medium, because it uses the same forces that sound does.

This is also the solution to the relativity paradox, "What if I take an infinitely rigid rod and tap it on one end, causing the other end to instantly vibrate, with the tap exceeding the speed of light?" The answer is that in this universe, no such infinitely rigid rod is possible; the maximum speed possible is still the speed of light.

This also implies that fluidic computing will always be slower than electronics, because the fundmental speed is orders of magnitudes slower. Which doesn't mean it is useless, I'm just killing two birds with one stone here, showing why this is no threat to electronics :-)
• Re:How fast? (Score:2)

Great explanation. Thanks for the clarification.
• Re:How fast? (Score:5, Informative)

on Thursday October 07, 2004 @02:01AM (#10457425)
it uses the same forces that sound does.

Actually, if you look at the microscopic physics, they both use the same forces. It's primarily electromagnetic forces, although some quantum degeneracy statistics plays a role too, that prevent your hand from going through a door when you knock on it. However, in fluidics (and sound) phonons are being transmitted through the medium, just like photons are transmitted through the wires in electronic systems. However, the sound waves derive mostly from the usually harmonic potentials keeping molecules spaced apart at their average distances. EM waves derive from charges (ie, electrons) moving and reacting with each other.

This also implies that fluidic computing will always be slower than electronics

Practically yes, but to be pedantic - not necessarily always. Maxmimum signal speed in fluidics would by governed by phonons, and in electronics by photons.

In reality the phonon modes, which are usually pretty dispersive (ie propogation speed depends on frequency), have slower propagation speeds than photons (also usually dispersive but usually not as much) in most matter.

But to say 'always' isn't necessarily true, there's no reason a priori to assume in some random material photonic excitations are necessarily faster than phononic excitations.

• Re:How fast? (Score:2, Insightful)

Yes, however, but the same argument, electrons don't neccessarily need to flow too far inside an electric circuit. Merely the shift in electric field is neccessary to indicate an on (5V let's say) or off(0V) state. Very little current actually needs to flow. Changes in the electric field propogates at the speed of light, so modern CPU's do, indeed, operate at the speed of light.
• Re:How fast? (Score:3, Insightful)

I mean the speed of electromagnetic radiation, not electrons. Which is in the neighborhood of 0.6c in coaxial cable.
• Re:How fast? (Score:2, Insightful)

I think you mean the speed of electrons. Electrons can't travel the speed of light (in a vacuum)

No, he means the speed of light. Electron flow speed has nothing to do with how fast electronic circuits can perform operations; it's the EM wave that is important, not the actual electronics themselves.

Think about it... you average processor speed is so fast that it's many bajillion times faster than the electrons can actually move. The clock signal is NOT transmitted as electrons - it simply can't be.
• Re:How fast? (Score:2)

I had mod points but there is no mod of

Dumb -1
• Re:How fast? (Score:2)

Actually, what I think he was trying to say (in what was to me a confusing way) is generally correct.

The reason the lights come on seemingly the same instant you flip the switch is NOT because electrons are going around the circuit that quickly. It's because changes to the electric field in the circuit propogate very quickly. Please see http://www.physlink.com/Education/AskExperts/ae69. cfm
• Re:How fast? (Score:2)

Electron flow speed has nothing to do with how fast electronic circuits can perform operations

Bzzzt. Wrong. A basic unit of a MOS transister is the transit time of electrons in a gate. This is related to the mobility of the charge carriers (electrons/holes).

To quote "Introduction to VLSI Systems" (Mead/Conway):

"We shall see that the transit time is the fundamental unit of the entire integrated system."
• Re:How fast? (Score:3, Insightful)

Electrons dont move through copper at the speed of light. However, they do move faster than sound does through a fluid.

• Re:How fast? (Score:2)

Electrons dont move through copper at the speed of light. However, they do move faster than sound does through a fluid.

No, they don't. Not by a long shot. (Link [gsu.edu] to a page that lets you see how the size of the wire and the current changes the drift velocity, but typical speeds are measured in centimeters per hour.) However, you don't actually need to move electrons all the way through the circuit to have a current, so the drift speed of the electrons is not really relevant.

• Re:How fast? (Score:3, Interesting)

The drift velocity for DC current is around a few mm/sec, but the individual root-mean-square electron velocities in a wire are comparable to c. (Regardless of current.) Although they keep scattering off the copper atoms and off each other and change direction all the time, so they don't travel very far. But the signal propagation velocity through a wire depends much more on the rms velocity than the aggregate current drift velocity.

People are generally surprised that drift velocity of electrical current i
• Re:How fast? (Score:5, Informative)

on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @08:36PM (#10455774)
Speed of light in vacuum, c, will always be faster than the speed of propogation of any particle, mode, or disturbance**.

The speed of light in a material is slower than in a vacuum, by a factor of the index of refraction (usually frequency dependent). Interestingly, it IS possible for particles to travel faster than this apparent speed of light, and in doing so they emit Cerenkov Radation [wikipedia.org], which is how many high-energy physics particle detectors (eg SNO) detect individual particles.

** For the nitpickers who will inevitably respond to that generalization, it is occasionally possible (in theory, at least) to set up a mode in some carefully-devised system where the speed of propogation of this mode is faster than c, but this mode cannot carry information. Simple example is a linear array of equally-spaced pendula, each with the same fundamental frequency, and with a spring connecting the weights at the bottom to the two pendula on either side. If a mode is set up where all pendula are oscillating at their fundamental frequency, all of them at exactly the same phase, (springs always remain at their unstretched length) then the phase velocity of this mode is infinite. However, there can be no 'information' or disturbance transmitted down the system. In reality, thermal and quantum disturbances would disrupt this mode and it would eventually become something much more complicated. These disturbances would be transmitted at a finite velocity, less than c.

• Re:How fast? (Score:5, Funny)

on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @08:16PM (#10455630)
Practical uses? Well, for starters, it's microfluidics. So if we're lucky, we'll finally be able to get one of these babies [si.edu] into a package small enough to fit in a watch. You've always wanted a digital watch, right?

It's amusing, but in 1967 this Fluidic Amplifier was billed as "the simplest device known for setting up digital circuit applications."

• Re:How fast? (Score:5, Insightful)

on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @08:24PM (#10455687)
Will this advance revolutionize chemistry and computing the way electric gates revolutionized electronics and computing? Will 'fluid programmers' give new meaning to "flowchart"?"

How fast could this ever be? Neat, but I dunno how this could ever be put to a practical use. Cool hack none the less.

In all likelyhood this will never be used as a replacement for silicon. It's much more likely that stuff like this will be used in bioinformatics & pharmacuetical circles in order to perform massively parallel tests on different molecular combinations.

If there are over 1,000,000 molecular permutations of a particular family of drugs(or DNA). Perhaps this kind of computer could rapidly cycle through all such combinations. Maybe the testing reaction could be performed with a liquid-mechanical ALU of sorts. Then the results could be stored in a liquid memory bank where they could be reviewed. Perhaps indicator dyes, or electrical dyes could be used to signal positive/negative results. *shrug*
• Re:How fast? (Score:3, Interesting)

It *is* silicon - it just routes tiny, single-file fluid molecules through empty channels, rather than really tiny clouds of electrons through conductive channels.
• Re:How fast? (Score:3, Insightful)

Perhaps this kind of computer could rapidly cycle through all such combinations.

You're completely missing the point. This machine is just a fluid implementation of a binary machine. In that respect, it has absolutely no logical difference from a silicon based digital machine.

I think you might be drawing some sort of paralel between the fact that Quantum computers can do many things in paralel, and the fact that this doesn't use electricity as a means of implementing classical digitial logic.

Quantum c

• Re:How fast? (Score:2)

I remember a lecturer telling us a story about when his engineering team created a controller logic system using air pressure in tubes - it was to be used in the real world in a factory, because an electrical system was not plausible due to the possibility of sparks, etc. The system worked, right up until they connected it to the air pressure system in the factory, which was too dirty, and the logic gates got jammed really quickly.

So, yes, there are practical uses for these kinds of things.
• I swim the body fluidic. (Score:4, Insightful)

on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @08:43PM (#10455817) Homepage Journal
That could depend on the operations. In the electronic paradigm, fast CPUs process data in parallel, integrated across much slower networks, their messages processed by routers on a much higher symbolic level than processed in the CPUs. A possible fluidics architecture might process chemical reactions which code their results in their products, which are flags for the fluidic processor valve. So networks of partial results can be processed by these CPUs. There are many computational chemistry applications which could be complementary to this kind of processor, with fluids merely the medium which they chemistry conveniently produces, and these chips are suited to process. There's nothing uniquely informational about electrons; they're just the tiny tool we had mastered when we started applying the mechanics of info theory. Now we can harness our latent fluidics techniques, crossbred with our electronic techniques, for a hybrid that can use the most tractable properties of both.

Additionally, humans are more chemical than electronic. Even our neurology, often metaphorically "electric", is really an ion pump. All electronics require lots of adapters to couple with our senses, either chemical, optical or mechanical (including sound). These fluidics are in the same domain as our own primary physical existence. So integrating them with our biology might be more direct. Implants, sensors, medicine, all the much more personal tech applications might be more available to microfluidics than they've been to alien electronics. Surf's up!
• It's not like this is new logic... (Score:2, Interesting)

Will 'fluid programmers' give new meaning to "flowchart"?"

Nice joke... but I don't quite understand what "fluid programming" would be compared to normal programming. Changing out the processor might allow things to be done faster, but it's not like these fluid chips will suddenly be able to complete a whole new set of logical operations, the chip technolgy just decides how the ones-and-zeros get stored... it doesn't really have much say in how they're going to be used, that's the programmer and complier's
• Re:It's not like this is new logic... (Score:3, Informative)

When it comes down to it, every programming language gets reduced to assembly level code in order to actually runs.

Close, but what the hardware executes is machine language [wikipedia.org], not assembly language [wikipedia.org].

-jcr
• Re:It's not like this is new logic... (Score:5, Interesting)

on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @08:18PM (#10455639) Homepage Journal
"This is a new way to do binary logic mechanically, but until they get this to the speed of copper chips they're not going to be useful for much."

Would they survive an EM burst?
• Re:It's not like this is new logic... (Score:2)

Would they survive an EM burst?

Depends on frequency, intensity, and duration. How long does your cold cup of coffee stay cold when being microwaved on high?
• Re:It's not like this is new logic... (Score:2)

How long does your cold cup of coffee stay cold when being microwaved on high?

probably a LOT longer than a CPU....

It is more a matter of having something that can last longer than the pulse you can generate. If it can last say 10 or 100 times longer than a copper chip, it is an advantage - one that anyting that used copper chips might not have.

Experiments that could not be measured close up with electronic circuits could now be measured/observed.

Just imagine if we had computerized war machines that cou
• Re:It's not like this is new logic... (Score:3, Interesting)

Yes, they would survive an EM burst.

I used to work in a fluidics laboratory as an intern [hey, I actually know something for once that every Slashdotter doesn't know!] and one of the purposes they were developing this stuff for was because of its ability to survive an EM burst. They were talking about using it in fighter planes for exactly that reason.

This was two decades ago, I'm ashamed to admit [I mean, I can't believe I've gotten so old that I remember two decades ago], and the things this lab built
• Re:It's not like this is new logic... (Score:2)

Yes; the whole point of using abstractions like these (in this case, using a totally new technology to implement well-understood AND, OR, etc.) is to hide the underlying lower-level technology so that everything we already know can be reused on top. While there may be reasons that the whole system might be better or worse for some applications (somebody alluded radiation), once standard gates are available, there's no inherent reason why a fluid computer would need to be programmed any differently from oth

• Redundant Systems and Fluid Dynamics (Score:4, Funny)

on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @08:02PM (#10455525) Homepage Journal
Will this advance revolutionize chemistry and computing the way electric gates revolutionized electronics and computing?

Not really, because it's basically a copy of the old way except utilizing fluid dynamics. The way electric gates revolutionized electronics was special because there was nothing like it before. What this will do, is enable better redundant designs for deep space probes. Also, a liquid computer likely doesn't get as hot or it won't be as much of a problem if it does.

Will 'fluid programmers' give new meaning to "flowchart"?"

No, we'll just fill all the systems with coffee and call ourselves The Happy Folk.
• Re:Redundant Systems and Fluid Dynamics (Score:3, Insightful)

Why would deep space probes use microfluidic logic processors? They may, on the other hand, be very useful for carrying out microchemical analytical techniques with a limited amount of reagent for things like life detection and geochemistry experiments on future planetary(Mars probably) rovers though.
• One new feature. (Score:2)

One application often discussed with liquid computers is the ease of doing analog computing.

You could, for example, make a fuzzy neural network where "flow" was the feedback generated by checking conductivity, amplifying it and feeding it into a pump. For particularly massive networks, this may be faster than the digital equivalent.

This is an old idea. I myself heard about it in 1998, but they were having problems getting the liquid to hold it's state during delays (and trouble initializing it too, I be
• will... (Score:3, Funny)

on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @08:03PM (#10455540)
will kevin costner star in a dramatization of the discovery as a bad actor with gills? "WaterLogicWorld".

• So in the future (Score:5, Funny)

on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @08:04PM (#10455542) Homepage Journal
Will we have computers with a logo that says

"Guinness inside"
• Galloping gnards! A water-powered computer? (Score:2)

Hey, it's the water powered computer [faqs.org] from the Crunchly saga! The future is finally here!

There are many subsequent panels in this story line, if you follow the links at the bottom of the Jargon entries...
• We already know the future. (Score:3, Funny)

Fluid links are extensively used by the Time Lords as an essential component in the TARDIS flight controls.

The only reason we have Fluid logic chips today is that The Doctor defected from UNIT after the BBC cancelled the series, selling his advanced knowledge on the subject to these researchers.

• What about microscopic steam-based logic gates? (Score:3, Funny)

on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @08:04PM (#10455543)
That would be totally retro. And it would allow AMD to enter the business.
• Re:What about microscopic steam-based logic gates? (Score:2)

Yup! Moore's law gets to live on - just in fluids instead of silicon. Cool.

And now that fancy water-cooling system in your box can also power your processor. Yeah!

But overclockers will then need larger and larger pumps. It's all fun and games untill some kid pokes his eye out hooking up a pressure washer pump to his computer.
• Re:What about microscopic steam-based logic gates? (Score:2)

Replace 'eye' with 'brain', and you could have the scientific accident which results in the creation of a new superhero... "THE BRAIN"
• Ever seen the inside of an automatic transmission? (Score:2)

Go check out some pictures of one sometime, and check out the part that looks like a maze... and prepare to be amazed. This is only new technology because it's been miniaturized.
• Old logic, new gates (Score:2, Informative)

Fluidics has been around for a long time.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluidic_logic
• In Eastern Germany (Score:5, Informative)

on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @08:08PM (#10455572) Homepage
in the 1970's there was a lot of research on Pneumatic Computing. I read a book about that a while back (can't remember the title).

Essentially it worked the same way, plus they had a little "Transistor" where a big airstream would be disturbed if a small control airstream is on.

- You only need to be able to cut sheetmetal and weld it together
- Not affected by X-Rays unless you melt it (think MAD/Nukes)

Of course, it'd be also very slow. And big.
• Re:In Eastern Germany (Score:2)

" - Not affected by X-Rays unless you melt it (think MAD/Nukes)"

Kinda curious what Nasa would think of that. They're not a big fan of radiation causing random bits on a chip to get flipped.
• Re:In Eastern Germany (Score:2)

You're thinking of "fluidics". Was a big deal for about 20 minutes.
• Re:In Eastern Germany (Score:2)

It's even on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org].
• Re:In Eastern Germany (Score:2)

- Not affected by X-Rays unless you melt it (think MAD/Nukes)

Something is still going to have to power those micro fluidic pumps. And your display. And the keyboard. AND your hard drive. Disrupt any one of those systems or the PSU and your fluidic chip is useless.
• chemistry and computing? (Score:5, Interesting)

on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @08:08PM (#10455573) Journal
Will this advance revolutionize chemistry and computing the way electric gates revolutionized electronics and computing?

I'm not sure if this is a typo.. but I see no real use for this in computing.. unless you want computers which (at best) work like conventional ones except much, much, much, slower.

However, in chemistry.. it may very well become a big thing. One possible use I can think of is for building automated little microlaboratories, controlling the mixage and flow of different chemicals.

This, in general, is a hot research topic in chemistry.. Already in biotech a lot of things similar to this are being put to practical use (Chip assays is an example).

Basically, it's the revolution of miniaturization which is (finally..) coming to chemistry.

• Reasons for Fluidics (Score:2)

One quick reason for using fluidics is they are not susceptible to magnetic radiation.. such as from an emp bomb..

They are also really useful in direct control of fluids..

There are many others of course, but those 2 come to mind.
• Re:chemistry and computing? (Score:2)

Actually.. To respond to my own post with a little elaboration:

You could be possible to build a micro-lab which tests for something by mixing a sample fluid with different reagents and combining that with some 'fluid-logic' in order to determine the result.

Besides research, I could imagine good practical use for this kind of technology in forensics.

Obviously, a small, cheap and easy-to-use (maybe even disposable) test which could be done directly at a crime scene could be very important in catching crimi
• Advanced? This is 50's technologies (Score:4, Insightful)

on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @08:09PM (#10455578) Homepage Journal
The application of fluidics has been around for ages.. even before tubes and 'electronic logic' we had fluidics.. both analog and digital.

Sure its still cool, but dont call it 'advanced'..

Geesh..
• Re:Advanced? This is 50's technologies (Score:2)

The advanced part is its miniaturization. There's probably a technical reason why it wasn't done this small before.

As one might consider a 90nm process CPU to be more advanced than the 130nm process CPU of the same core. It should be able to do more with less current, and also go up to higher frequencies.
• Frozen hack... (Score:2, Funny)

Whoever thought that supercooling a processor would completely prevent ANDing two bits?
• This just in... (Score:2)

Adding machine invented that uses gears, chains and pulleys to add two numbers together.

And no, I didn't RTFA, but I agree with other comments that this fluid stuff sounds like a very cool hack and may have some practical application somewhere.

• Don't.. (Score:2)

Don't think we'll have fluids computers someday... electron > H20. Instead, I think that such things could be used in microfluidics chips(yeah I know, kinda obvious), especially in biotechnology-related applications. Pretty cool progress is made in this field... someday, we may have a 'lab-on-a-chip' to diagnose a bunch of diseases with a drop of blood, or analyse samples quickly (mission to Mars?).
• Teaching tool? (Score:3, Interesting)

on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @08:14PM (#10455610) Homepage
Couldn't this be used as a great tool for teaching? You should show people exactly what is happening inside a processor. It's always so difficult to get people to picture something they cannot see, and this would make a great visual example
• Re:Teaching tool? (Score:2)

Whoops... you *could* show people exactly what is happening inside the processor. :D
• How would you cool such computing devices? (Score:3, Informative)

on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @08:15PM (#10455623) Homepage Journal
How would you cool such computing devices? Surround the tubes with coils and have electricity flowing through them? ;)
• Cool Running (Score:5, Insightful)

on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @08:15PM (#10455626)
Hate to break the news, but unless someone finds a way to use superfluids (lossless flow fluids, like liquid helium) for these, they're gonna take power to run.

At a rough guess from scaling theory, they're gonna take several orders of magnitude more energy/bit than electronic gates.

• There are still some bugs in the water gates... (Score:4, Funny)

on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @08:25PM (#10455699) Homepage
Okay, this definitely calls for a link to... Crunchly! [catb.org]

Mandatory reading for the larval [catb.org] geek [catb.org]...

• reminds me of something ESR pointed out to me... (Score:2)

check this out...liquid computing...http://www.catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/G /glitch.html#crunchly73-06-04 [catb.org]
• Corning fluidics (from about 1972) (Score:5, Interesting)

on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @08:33PM (#10455755) Homepage
Many years ago (about 1972), Corning and others made "fluidics" devices that used air to implement simple nand gates. They were looking for applications, such as explosive environments (fireworks factories, cotton processing) that relays wouldn't work well in. The devices had simple sensors and could implement logic by combining nand gates. There were a couple of competitors that made fluidic devices. The Corning were small black cans about 2" high and 1/2 around; the air supply was connected on the top and there were 4-inputs and one output on the bottom.

Cute, but they went no where. I put together a neat high school science fair project with them and got to the county level.

Nice to see the concept recycled.
• ...new meaning to "flowchart"? (Score:2)

Will 'fluid programmers' give new meaning to "flowchart"?"

Well, it'll certainly give new meaning to piss poor code.

And instead of bugs in our code, will we have proterozoins? "Gee, that's some pretty proterozoiny code ya got there."

• Zounds (Score:3, Funny)

<(omar) (at) (allwrong.com)> on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @08:41PM (#10455802) Homepage Journal
Certinly puts a new spin on 'memory leak.'
• So, we have come full circle (Score:2)

Back to fluidics...
You can find fluid control systems (typically pneumatic) in explosion hazard areas.
Not new. Just smaller.
• Combine with plastics and you have something (Score:2)

Currently, people who have assistive devices like pacemakers are unable to do certain things (like stand near a high power magnet). With this type of device and plastic composites, you could drastically reduce the amount of metal in surgically implanted devices.

Hopefully they won't leak like the breast implants.
• microfluid logic basic research (Score:2)

If anyone wants more in-depth information about microfluid logic, they can read the research work from Toshinori Munakata [csuohio.edu] at Cleveland State University [csuohio.edu] with the Colorado School of Mines researchers: Flow resistance for microfluidic logic operations [csuohio.edu]
• Flow Chart? How about liquid cooling... (Score:2)

That's a pretty complex flow chart, if you ask me, but I suppose the logic is all the same. My first thought was more along the lines that the cpu could cool itself in the very act of computing. Neat idea. :) If only we could teach electricity to cool itself, since it's incredibly doubtful that fluidic cpu's are going to be giving us an extra edge.
• Backup computer for dynamically unstable aircraft? (Score:2)

Modern fighter aircraft are dynamically unstable, and cannot be flown with simple mechanical controls; you need a flight computer and a "fly-by-wire" system.

So, in theory, an electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) could make a fighter airplane crash by knocking out the computer that keeps it stable in the air.

The F-16 is one of these dynamically unstable aircraft. I thought I had read, years ago, that the F-16 has a fluidic backup computer that is smart enough to keep it flying if the main computer goes down. How
• Gee, whiz computing? (Score:2)

Someone had to say it, may as well be me!
• Obligatory joke (Score:2)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these things... oh wait... <looking out at ocean>
• Fluidic state machine: automatic transmissions (Score:2, Informative)

Using fluid for logic isn't new. The best example I can think of is the automatic transmission. The valve body is a maze of pathways that essentially act as a state machine of the transmissions that chooses the appropriate bands and gears and such.

One link I found (go down to "Valve Body"):

http://www.familycar.com/transmission.htm [familycar.com]

The modern processor is an electrical state machine and the valve body is a fluidic state machine.

The only real development is the physical implementation of the logic but
• Im amazed how.... (Score:3, Insightful)

on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @09:18PM (#10456042)
Dumb people here are....

First off, electronics can be made EMP-proof, and a few ways at that.

1: Surround COMPLETELY the device with shielding, ala TEMPEST. Ground the shielding.

2: Use EMP detecters around the object to detect incoming pulse. When slight spike is recorded, cut electricity and ground the chips. These "hardened" chips have a cutoff which crucial parts are grounded/ungrounded on accepting a signal.

3: Use electron tubes for the base part of the system. Connect e-tubes to tempest surrounded internal computer. Use self-grounding chips for best survivalibility.
• Re:Im amazed how.... (Score:2)

1: Surround COMPLETELY the device with shielding, ala TEMPEST. Ground the shielding.

Gee...that's *really* simple when you have i/o to deal with.

Yes, you can have isolation, but it's not perfect and still vulnerable to damage. Your controller might survive, but i/o might be destroyed, yay!

• Fluidic Chips Underrated?? (Score:2)

In the end you're still using electricity to power micro-fluidic pumps I'd imagine, but power consumption's gotta be way lower, not to mention thermal buildup. Not sure how they would compare in speed to their conventional brothers, but if the above facts are true, I'm seeing excellent applications for them in portable computing. You could have a device with considerable endurance, substancially less heat build up, and overall less wieght since you don't nessisarily need chunks of metal to bleed off heat (t
• And if you wanted to be cool as hell... (Score:2)

I know, appending to my own post, but how cool would it be to engineer a conductive system into the same chip? Make the liquid electrically conductive and have both systems running in parallel to one another. One ouwld have to solve the problem of electricity running the same path as the the current fluidic path (thus essentially duplicating the instruction), but if it could be done...

• Transmissions... (Score:2)

Not quite "micro" fluidics, but automatic transmissions have genuine fluid logic. If you've ever seen the inside of the control area, it even looks like a PCB/Chip layout.

So this stuff does get used in real life, only it's much bigger. Of course the total gate complexity is in the single digits, however.
• Man! (Score:2)

I'd really to hate to clean up any core dump it leaves on the carpet!
• one word (Score:2)

nano-therapeutics
• Fluid Logic Chips as EMP proof systems (Score:2)

In one of Brian Daley's Han Solo novels, the MF was outfitted in 'fluidic circuits' because Han and Chewie were down on their finances and that was the only thing they could afford. It was supposedly developed because it is EMP proof. This would have been an incredible development during the nuclear standoff cold war. In modern day when the threat of nukes is a much more limited scale this is still an interesting possibility for some kinds of backup or weapons systems.
• This reminds me... (Score:2)

Many years ago, I saw an article in Scientific American about how to implement rope logic. I think it was A. K. Dewdney's column.

He showed how all of the standard logic gates could be implemented with ropes and pulleys. Very cool.

-jcr
• Does this mean... (Score:2)

... we'll have to implement a physical bit-bucket, and empty it periodically?

... we can finally settle the Beer Wars by feeding streams of bubbly as input?

... on a more serious note, could this technology potentially be used to provide a 100% alcohol-free beer/wine, as opposed to the 99.9% or so achieved now through freezing?

I see in the future a top-ten contest for the most interesting use of the forthcoming fluid logic processor. Also, enterprising youths may wish to go hit USPTO and NetSol now to reg

• Fluidic Space? (Score:2)

Are these particularly effective in Fluidic space?
• Another obligatory water-related joke... (Score:2)

Aaaand, the entire machine would use FLOATING POINT operations, so it would do real well on the standard benchmarks!

On the other hand, if each operation had a point that really floated, then turning the machine upside down would cause an overflow operation and possibly core dump the points onto your desktop, which I suppose would be fine if you were using an "aquarium" screensaver.

Regards,
-Ocelot Wreak

• Cartoon? (Score:2)

Ok, I know I seen this in a cartoon somewhere.

• Ob Rollerball Reference (Score:2)

We've just lost the entire thirteenth century. Still, nothing much there apart from Dante and a few corrupt popes.
• Richard Feynman (Score:2)

My brain could be farting here, but didn't Richard Feynman mention fluid-based logic gates way back when in a lecture somewhere?
• NCR at the1963 World's Fair (Score:3, Interesting)

on Thursday October 07, 2004 @12:17PM (#10460509) Homepage Journal
From the Boundary Institute's CV list: [boundary.org]
Thomas Etter's background is in mathematics and philosophy. He has worked in various ways with computers, holding several early patents on integrated circuits, one of which was demonstrated by National Cash Register Inc. at the 1963 World's Fair.
Etter's integrated circuit demonstration was of a fluidic device.

VMS must die!

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