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Cooling by computation

  1. Jul 29, 2004 #1
    can someone explain algorithmic cooling to me? (i think that's what it's called.) in a work of fiction i am presently reading, an interior space is cooled by a quantum-computational device engaged in ongoing calculations. the book is 'redemption ark' by alastair reynolds and the technology is named (in the book) a 'cryo-arithmetic engine.' i believe i've read something before about how heat ties into whether a computational operation is 'reversible' or not. obviously i have no idea what i'm talking about. i've only read a few layman's books on quantum computing. i just want to know how something like this might work.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 29, 2004 #2


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    I saw a theory one time, I think it was a farse, in which the process of computer processing is supposed to use up fundamental particles called "computons," or something like this. These are, in turn, supposed to be quanta of "coldness." Since the process of comuptation is fundamentally using up these "coldness particles," that supposedly explains why a computer processor heats up. Maybe that's what you're looking for. Personally, it sounds like a bunch of horse crap to me.
  4. Aug 3, 2004 #3
    no, this is a real phenomenon with quantum computers, apparently. i never read the details, but i have vague impressions of what it might be about for some reason:

    in normal computers, heat is generated whenever a bit is flipped. it takes energy to do so. some is lost as heat. such computations are not 'reversible' since to flip the bit back youre going to again have to apply energy. heat is always lost. in quantum computers, i guess any computation is fully reversible. whatever that means. the tiny little thing i read about this months ago is almost completely lost to me now. the only thing that's sticking with me is the term 'reversible computing'

    ah, i just found this, check this out:


    the device in the book works with this idea somehow
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2017
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