Non-electronic logic

Unconventional computing

It is possible to construct non-electronic digital mechanisms. In principle, any technology capable of representing discrete states and representing logic operations could be used to build mechanical logic. MIT students Erlyne Gee, Edward Hardebeck, Danny Hillis (co­author of The Connection Machine), Margaret Minsky and brothers Barry and Brian Silverman, built two working computers from Tinker toys, string, a brick, and a sharpened pencil. The Tinkertoy computer is supposed to be in the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Hydraulic, pneumatic and mechanical versions of logic gates exist and are used in situations where electricity cannot be used. The first two types are considered under the heading of fluidics. One application of fluidic logic is in military hardware that is likely to be exposed to a nuclear electromagnetic pulse (nuclear EMP, or NEMP) that would destroy electrical circuits.

Mechanical logic is frequently used in inexpensive controllers, such as those in washing machines. Famously, the first computer design, by Charles Babbage, was designed to use mechanical logic. Mechanical logic might also be used in very small computers that could be built by nanotechnology.

Another example is that if two particular enzymes are required to prevent the construction of a particular protein, this is the equivalent of a biological "NAND" gate.

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