After a full decade of research and development, Stanford engineers have managed to built the first-ever synchronous computer that algorithmically manipulates matter. Yes, the heavy stuff. Not software.
The system, still in its infancy, uses simple physics to move magnetic water droplets with clockwork precision. The goal isn’t to rival today’s computers, which would be naive to attempt, since the system is far slower than the most obtuse processor on the market today. Rather, its purpose is to prove that computers that can control and manipulate physical matter are possible. And with great accuracy too. The results of their research are published in the current issue of Nature Physics.
Engineer Manu Prakash’s, who came up with the idea ten years ago when he was in graduate school, said, “Imagine if when you run a set of computations that not only information is processed but physical matter is algorithmically manipulated as well. We have just made this possible at the mesoscale.” The fluidic computation device could be used in chemistry, biology, and even medicine and digital manufacturing.