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From Twitter 03-25-2011



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Crossposted from http://fayanora.dreamwidth.org

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( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
kengr
Mar. 26th, 2011 10:56 am (UTC)
Helpfulness of Google: I didn't know how much I wanted this reservoir in the story to hold. Google images helped me settle on 65K gallons.

If you don't mind using a calculator, you can pick dimensions and back calculate. Figure cubic feet, convert to cubic inches (12x12x12 cu in in a cu ft) then divide by 231. (don't ask why but a gallon is legally *defined* as 231 cu in)

I find myself wondering what word one would use in place of "digital" for a "computer" that operates with magic instead of electrons.

"digital" computers are ones that calculate using digits. Fixed steps. As compared to analog computers which use infinitely variable values (ie my slide rules, or several sorts of electrical or mechanical gizmos that get semi-exact answers based on variable inputs)

There are mechanical digital computers. And a lot of analog computers are electronic.

So just because it's magical doesn't mean it isn't digital.
fayanora
Mar. 26th, 2011 11:49 am (UTC)
Goddamn fucking backspace key moving me away from this page! FUCK! Now I have to write my comment all over again. FUCK FUCK FUCKITY FUCK!!! Wish I could turn off that "feature." I *never* use backspace for Back on purpose.

Anyway... I didn't know any of the dimensions for the resevoirs. I just knew what it looked like in my head, used Google images to find something that gave me an idea of how many gallons the resevoir I was imagining would hold. (That, and the smaller emergency resevoirs.)

So just because it's magical doesn't mean it isn't digital.

Neat. Still not entirely sure if it's digital or not, though. I haven't figured out exactly how it thinks yet.

Here's what I know about her computer:

1. It is a giant crystal sphere with magically-created optical circuits inside it. (Size: hmm... I think it could fit inside an average gymnasium, but you'd have to take the roof off first to get it in.) I don't know what these pathways are like, aside from "optical." IE, I don't know what they're made of, or how they work, or anything like that. (And yes, I know "optical" means light instead of electricity.)

2. It is a learning computer, so it can create new circuit pathways for itself. I think it could also erase old pathways if it had reason to.

3. It is an AI, but seems to lack excitability. It has emotions, but they aren't strong and they're pretty constant and stable. If it were human, it would personify the terms "unphased" and "unflappable" and "calm." It shares this in common with the two smaller units, called The Librarians (MUCH smaller units - spheres twice the size of the average human head - in their own mechanical bodies, of sorts).

4. Lyria is not constrained by Earth technology. She would model the thing after the brains of living beings unless something prevented her from doing that. Are human/animal brains digital, analog, or something else?

5. Magics laid into the crystal allow optical impulses to be slowed down or even stopped, bent, twisted, etc. With that in mind, it would be possible for it to operate without actual circuit pathways seeing as the entire medium is crystalline, but I think Lyria would have laid down some actual physical pathways in case the thing somehow lost power, it could be turned back on without having to be reprogrammed. But it could probably make use of those powers, use empty sectors to think about things without having to build permanent circuits and then erase them.

6. Many of these things seem to indicate a lot more awareness of its own inner workings than human brains have. Which would be a deviation from animal/human brains. The "model" idea is not entirely out with this, but this makes things more interesting.

7. It has instant recall (but then, so do Lyria and her Zaharat soldiers), and its database contains copies of every book in her fortress. To give you an idea how many books that is, she has a small library on one level that's about twice the size of the library on Sandy. And her main library, on the level that houses her labs, is about six times larger than Central Library in downtown Portland. (Remember, the fortress is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside / dimensionally transcendental.)

But as to "step by step thinking" or whatever... don't know.
kengr
Mar. 26th, 2011 01:49 pm (UTC)
For reference, analog computers aren't generally "programmable" except by rewiring. They are all special purpose.

General purpose pretty much has to be digital.

I'll come back and answer this stuff better after I've slept.

Edited at 2011-03-26 01:50 pm (UTC)
fayanora
Mar. 26th, 2011 12:02 pm (UTC)
PS
By the way, this optical computer of hers is entirely different from the one I'd designed from the diagram-spell technology of the same world. THAT one used a series of overlapping and sometimes connecting magical circuits made from diagram spells (the circuit lines made of Alchemist's Chalk, and pure magic instead of electrons) to mimic (and surpass) an Earth computer. Problem with that, and the reason I made Lyria's computers optical, was because it actually required more area to build diagram-spell computers than was really practical for her needs.
      Here's what I mean: a diagram-spell computer able to do the same things as my laptop would be larger than my fridge, even after miniaturizing the diagram-spell circuits as much as was possible (the more complex the function of a diagram-spell, the larger it has to be). Whereas the optical design fits something like a human brain into something only twice as large as said human brain.

Still, the diagram-spell model computers are useful, story-wise, because I'm sure other mages in Dralakkith and the surrounding area have computers in that style.
fayanora
Mar. 26th, 2011 12:07 pm (UTC)
PS last
Diagram spells also have another problem: the lines in the diagram spells have to be a certain thickness, or else the whole thing shorts out. Even with the technology to lay down Alchemist's Chalk on a nano scale, it wouldn't work because the lines would be too thin. The magic would overload it. I think half a milimeter is the thinnest those lines can be without causing a short circuit.
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