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The future of computing

  1. Oct 17, 2008 #1
    I really love learning about computers and really figuring out about what they are actually doing. I started programming in python and now i basically just do assembly because its so low level. Now assembly has made me understand a decent amount about the hardware and its layout but im starting to wonder if computers will continue to always be electrical. I mean im no computer or electrical engineer which is why im posting this here because I would like to here others opinions on if they think we will be able to use different forms of energy to be able to compute things. Also is it impossible to produce light without an electrical current? what makes us think that electricity is the best way to do it? is it because even our own bodies have electrical neural networks which are extremely complex? And to finish it off is mechanical ways of computing possibly faster? obviously not at our scale but at the atomic scale such as making gears and things out of a few atoms. Could that be the answer to a faster cpu? or will electricty still be dominant? srry for the mass questions. Dont answer all of them just incorportate there ideas into your own professional answer. Thanks in advance, looking forward to some good answers.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 17, 2008 #2
    Yeah..... light is produced all the time without an electrical current.
    And they're about to start routing by using light and microscopic mirrors so i've heard to increase the speed of the internet. Since semiconductors take time to be turned on. versus directing light.
  4. Oct 17, 2008 #3
    so how exactly do they generate light without electricity, i am going to assume they use heat or some sort of chemical reaction. And arent electrical circuits starting to reach there limits because it doesnt seem like any CPU's go over 4.0 ghz now.
  5. Oct 18, 2008 #4


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    Light used for information signals can be -- and is -- generated electronically using semiconductor lasers.
  6. Oct 18, 2008 #5
    Nuclear Fission generates light.
    But if you're talking about humans producing light.... I think using electricity is the simplest way to generate light. Essentially to get an electron to emit energy in the form of light. The objective is to get them to change energy levels. And our digital circuitry still has a good while before we start hitting physical limitation of "Moore's Law" And a 4.00GHz Processor is extremely fast considering the speed the rest of the CPU clocks at.....Which is normally in the MHz. On the other hand they're developing graphene ribbon to replace the silicon semiconductor, which will be more quantum confined and is predicted to make Processors reach in Tesla Hertz
  7. Oct 19, 2008 #6
    i had a control systems teacher that insisted we do our calculations on a plastic computer, the Spirule. it was powered by converting the chemical energy of biological organisms to mechanical energy. i think his favorite light source was also fire, fwiw.
  8. Oct 20, 2008 #7
    arent chemical computers being invented aswell such as DNA computing? is that going to be better than using electrical circuits?
  9. Oct 20, 2008 #8
    I believe the only 'useful' light produced these days for technological purposes is through the use of electrical current to power a semiconductor laser.

    As for the future of computing, I also believe that processing data through light holds promise. However, the cost is relatively high, and the technology far less than mature. You may want to read up on "photonic band-gap materials" and the uses. Storing a single bit of data as light and bending light 90 degrees is possible through these materials. I am no expert on them, but since reading about them I feel like this is where things may turn in the future (although it may be distant).
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