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Static Electricity Computer

A computer entirely propelled by rubbing balloons and combing your hair.
  [vote for,

It could prove worthwhile to rewrite history and pretend continuous current (direct, or alternating) never existed. Some civilisations have long known for a long time of static electricity, and some even made use of the phenomenon.

What is a computer? In effect, it is a controllable switch, between a state and another state. Well, it is more than that, it is a complex system that can be controlled by conditions and give rise to complex states of switched-ness. But basically, involves controlled switches, or conditional switching.

This could have been achieved if somehow effort were put into harnessing static electricity such that it could predictably switch states, under the influence of some condition, including the result of some other prior static electricity switching event.

I think we should do it. Make a static electric computer.

Ian Tindale, Jun 29 2016

[scad mientist, Jun 29 2016]


       That would be interesting to try and construct the basic building blocks, but it's not likely that anything close to the current level of computer technology would be possible. It's really hard to make insulating materials that can block those high voltage levels, so large spacing between wires is usually required, preventing miniaturization.   

       Here's an interesting article by a [wbeaty] on how to build static electric devices. He's got a nice selection of articles on static electricity.
scad mientist, Jun 29 2016

       This is the best idea with this title that I've ever read.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 29 2016

       MaxwellBuchanan, — that’s nothing, wait ’till you get to the subtitle!
Ian Tindale, Jun 30 2016

       This could be done, but not really. If it were run directly from static electricity, it would only operate for very small fractions of a second at a time. Effectively, the clock rate would be on the order of a hertz.   

       Of course, it could dump the static charge into a capacitor to use gradually, but then it wouldn't really be a static electricity computer.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 30 2016

       Static electricity can be generated by stapling numerous cats to the circumference of a large wooden wheel, then rotating the wheel at high RPM so that the cat fur rubs against an array of ebony rods.
8th of 7, Jun 30 2016

       My hair switches states predictably depending on if I rub a balloon on it or not. We could take a video of my hair's state of Einteinishness, thereby having a time-sequence string of 1's and 0's each representing whether or not my hair is sticking up at the time or not. The gubbins that decide whether or not to rub the balloon or move it into proximity or not I leave as an exercise to the reader.   

       Note this won't work for Dr. Curry. He needs an upgrade.
RayfordSteele, Jun 30 2016

       Dynamic and static RAM already work on "static electricity". All that's needed to operate the innards of a PC from external s.e. is an appropriate charge pump to transform the external high voltage/low current source to a regulated low voltage/high current supply.   

       Beyond that, it would be a simple matter of balancing the power in to power out equation.
csea, Jun 30 2016

       I am imagining static charge would be affected by physical shape of it's enviroment. If a bit is a cube and the static charge can be identified at one of the six faces. The computer would be a sum of the dynamic electrostatic field pattern placed on around the device.
wjt, Jul 10 2016


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