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MACHINA RATIOCINATRIX

Lightning-powered thinking engine
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The scene is a dank, cold, dark crypt. At a desk made of tombstones sits a dark, shrouded figure, holding a mouse in its gloved left hand. But this is no normal mouse. In place of LEDs, the mouse contains two small candles, emitting smoke through a pair of chimneys. The photocells pick up the light in the normal way. The entire mouse can be opened in order to relight and extinguish the candles, and to polish the stained glass windows which protect the photocells.

Before the figure on the desk sits a granite manual keyboard with slate keys. On each key a letter is engraved, and on the numeric keypad the letters I, V, X, L, C, D and M are scratched. Each hammer of the typewriter-style keyboard is imprinted with a pattern of eight broken and unbroken metal strips in the style of I Ching hexagrams, a broken one representing a zero, an intact line representing a one. Each time a key is struck, the hammer makes contact with eight pairs of terminals, closing a circuit and sending a byte in parallel to the computer.

The output device is a pen plotter attached to a quill, with an ink pot into which it is occasionally dipped. A sheet of parchment is placed beneath this output device and the appropriate letters appear, with an appropriate scratching sound.

On the parchment appears the following script:

X NOTA BENE: CRIBRVM ERATOSTHENIS
XX PRETIA
XXX TABVLA BINARIAE: NVMERI
XL BINARIVM: EXAMEN
L INTEGRI: LOCVS. PRIMVS. RATIO.
LX TABVLA NVMERI(M)
LXX ORBIS LOCVS AB I AD M FACE
LXXX :PONE VERITATEM IN NVMERVM(LOCVS)
XC TERMINVS
C PONE II IN PRIMVM
CX ORBIS EXAMEN AB PRIMVM AD M GRADVS PRIMI FACE
CXX :PONE FALSVM IN NVMERI(EXAMEN)
CXXX TERMINVS
CXL ADDE I AD PRIMO
CL SI PRIMVS M NON AEQVI SVNT ERGO INSILI AD CXX
CLX SCRIBE: NVMERI PRIMI
CLXX LINEA NOVA
CLXXX SI NVMERI(RATIO) ERGO SCRIBE NVMERI(RATIO)
CXC TERMINVS

nineteenthly, Dec 14 2007

[link]






       Ignatio! This vellum is too thick for the device! We are missing the storm!   

       I am so sorry master, but it is all we had left. Quickly, let me sand down the sheets before the next bolt arrives.
bungston, Dec 14 2007
  

       You have 2 CX lines.
RayfordSteele, Dec 14 2007
  

       Thanks, [RayfordSteele], that was a bit of an odd experience.
XIXmo
nineteenthly, Dec 14 2007
  

       How is it lightning powered?   

       What is the mouse for?
BJS, Dec 14 2007
  

       ...AD NVMERI PRIMI VLTIMA!
lurch, Dec 14 2007
  

       I keep getting this   

       PROGRESSIO HAS CONGRESSUS AN ERRORIS QUOD POSTULO UT SHUTDOWN   

       Is there a help desk?
DenholmRicshaw, Dec 14 2007
  

       The mouse still controls the cursor, which is represented by a candle flame illuminating the page through a lens above the parchment. It allows the text to be edited by placing points under the deleted text, as was done in mediaeval documents. There is also a vector graphics application.   

       The lightning could briefly power the machine, but i meant it more as a way of describing electricity. I actually think it's probably powered by slaves on treadmills with overseers cracking whips at them.
nineteenthly, Dec 14 2007
  

       [DenholmRicshaw], that's because you are using the MODVS OPERANDI known as FENESTRAE, as sold by William Portae. Try using the SPHENISCIFORMES one started by that Hyperborean from Fennica, which is both LIBERVS and GRATIS.
nineteenthly, Dec 14 2007
  

       But can it calculate QVANTIS EST CANIS INTRO FENESTRAM ?   

       Still, not bad for an ad hoc idea. [+]
8th of 7, Dec 15 2007
  

       Does anyone know if Linux can be used in Latin, actually?   

       (After a Google) it seems GNOME and KDE have unfinished Latin language projects.   

       [custard], that's what happens on these old machines without much ARIES.
nineteenthly, Dec 15 2007
  

       //QVANTIS EST CANIS INTRO FENESTRAM //   

       Talk about dog Latin!
pertinax, Dec 15 2007
  

       Truly, the title and idea sounds like a Mars Volta tune and lyric
globaltourniquet, Dec 16 2007
  

       // Talk about dog Latin //   

       Yes, it's a bit wuff ....
8th of 7, Dec 16 2007
  

       I found a LINVX distribution but after I entered this   

       eximo -cunctus   

       It stopped working. What have I done wrong?
DenholmRicshaw, Dec 16 2007
  

       // What have I done wrong ? //   

       The consensus here is that being born was your first major mistake, and it's been pretty much downhill since then.....
8th of 7, Dec 16 2007
  

       [DenholmRicshaw], you're lucky not to have entered eximo -cunctum, as if you'd done that it would have deleted everything.   

       LINVX does not tolerate grammatical errors and will hang if one is committed, and will exire without a NVNTIVS ERRORIS.   

       Incidentally, i prefer to call that MODVS OPERANDI 51N5,10.
nineteenthly, Dec 16 2007
  

       "you're lucky not to have entered eximo -cunctum"   

       That made me laugh more than I can say. If I could give buns for annos I would.
DenholmRicshaw, Dec 16 2007
  
      
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