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Old Oct 31st 2018, 06:04 AM   #1
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machine vs. computer

What the difference between computer to machine?
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Old Oct 31st 2018, 07:30 AM   #2
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A computer is just a particular type of machine.

It is (at its most basic) just a huge number of switches (many billions)
The key to their power is the almost unbelievable levels of miniaturisation
that allows these billions of switches to be packaged in a sensible space
and the impressive speed at which they can be (electrically) switched.

It would be theoretically possible to build a purely mechanical computer,
but the size would be prohibitively vast (of the order of the size of the moon)
and the speed would be prohibitively slow (a couple of millennia for the windows start-up).
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Old Oct 31st 2018, 03:41 PM   #3
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Indeed a computer is a machine. The smart folks at MIT once built a computer out of Tinker Toys that could play tic-tac-toe:
https://www.retrothing.com/2006/12/the_tinkertoy_c.html
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Old Today, 12:14 AM   #4
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A computer to a machine is a human to a primate.
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Old Today, 01:16 AM   #5
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The definition of machine I have in my head is "a device that does mechanical work"

Searching I find that's pretty close ..." : an instrument (such as a lever) designed to transmit or modify the application of power, ..."

Definitely a machine plays with energy ....Joules ...

A computer should not necessarily need energy ... Does it require the expenditure of energy to compute 1+1 ??? ... there's no law of physics that says so ....

The first computers were machines with cogs and gears...

The ones we have now are less like machines and require much less energy ...

So a computer is not (need not be) a machine ...

A computer manipulates Data ......... A Machine manipulates Energy
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Old Today, 02:48 AM   #6
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Does it require the expenditure of energy to compute 1+1 ??? ... there's no law of physics that says so ....
Actually there is.
I can't say I know the details, but I'm pretty sure that information theory does require the use of energy to store and manipulate data.
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Old Today, 05:06 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Woody View Post
Actually there is.
That sounds pretty definite ....


Originally Posted by Woody View Post
I can't say I know the details....
Hmmmmm...

Originally Posted by Woody View Post
...but I'm pretty sure that information theory does require the use of energy to store and manipulate data.
Well I'm Certain it doesn't require energy to store data ....

Manipulation , I'm fairly confident it might not require energy.
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Old Today, 05:56 AM   #8
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I admit am pulling together a few bits and pieces from articles I have read
(rather than a deep understanding of the subject) to make my statement.

One is the resolution of the "Maxwell's Demon" paradox.
The energy required by the demon to process information (of which particles are hot and which are cold) solves the paradox.

Another piece of evidence is the "firewall paradox" caused by the energy associated with the information lost as things fall into a block hole.

I am sure I have come across other articles which link information and energy,
I just can't bring any other specific examples to mind.
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Old Today, 08:16 AM   #9
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I think Woody is corerect. Consider the change in entropy when a mechanical device performs the function of adding 1+1. The mechanism must be transformed from a collection of gears and levers in a random state to one that is very specific (i.e. ordered) for that particular problem. This means its entropy is decreased, which requires energy to be expended.
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