[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

starship-design: photonic computers

	Andrew West has a good point about possibly not needing superfast
computers to operate a spacecraft during a long journey, but there may be
more to that issue . . . I can think of a couple of great advantages to it,
though: for designing the ship, or any complex device, such a machine would
provide the speed needed for real-time simulations, so no time need be
wasted in building actual experimental models. I've heard that faster
computers would also aid in weather prediction and climate studies. One of
the biggest advantages to it, though, is immunity to such stuff as RFI and
EMI. Also, it eliminates the problems with such other electrical hash as
junction capacitance problems and crosstalk, and might be distortion-free
as well. Junction capacitance, BTW, was a problem that plagued designers of
early transistor circuits; it limited the high frequency attainable, and it
took a while before transistor circuits could be made to match the
high-freq performance of vacuum tubes. Add in that a circuit failure in a
photonic device would not cause any damage downstream; for that matter, I
can't imagine it being possible to overload such a thing, at least not in
the sense that an electrical circuit can be.
	It's funny, I was just writing to a friend a couple weeks ago and telling
him that my idea of the perfect computer (or at least a future kind of
computer) would be the Magic Mirror. It hangs on the wall, and when it's
off it just looks like a mirror (though there are other possibilities, I'm
sure), but when you want to use it, you just talk to it and tell it what to
do, and it does it. I think we're getting closer to that.
	As to current rocket flights, I think I read somewhere that they're still
using 386's on new spacecraft . . . they just better not be running Win 98.
	Keep looking up,