- Digital Humanities Specialist
- Washington University in St. Louis
- Website: hdw.artsci.wustl.edu/
I'd like to learn about mechanical calculators and computers, especially Curta Calculators (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curta). And Babbage's engine too. Computation with visible and moving parts.
At least one person has made a Turing machine using Conway's Game of Life (http://rendell-attic.org/gol/tm.htm). And in Cryptonomicon, Neil Stephenson describes computation using sound waves (computer as pipe organ), and suggests that it might be possible to compute using ping pong balls or locomotives.
For some time, I've imagined computation in nature (forests as logic gates, meadows as accumulators). Move a rock, and the answer changes. Rearrange fallen timber, and different answers are computable. But I don't know enough to tell whether all that is pure fancy, the stuff of science fiction, or else a wickedly righteous hack.