Re: Analog Computers

From: J. R. Molloy (
Date: Sun Apr 15 2001 - 14:04:01 BST

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    Subject: Re: Analog Computers
    Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2001 06:04:01 -0700
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    From: "Bill Spight" <>
    > Here is an analog computer for solving a maze: a wooden model of the
    > maze, with a stoppered hole at the goal, and the entrance closed off. To
    > solve the maze, fill the model with water, float a piece of paper at the
    > entrance and take out the stopper at the goal, allowing the water to
    > drain. The path followed by the paper is the solution.

    The path followed by the paper must also be followed by the observer (the one
    that computes the results), who is the real computer in this scenario.

    > I guess you are too young to remember when computers had "AC" at the end
    > of their names. "AC" stood for "analog computer". They were not
    > imaginary devices. ;-)

    We used to call acid indigestion "heart burn" (and still do), but that doesn't
    mean it has anything to do with the heart (or with combustion). Before it was
    understood that all metrics are digital, it made sense to use the analog
    hypothesis. The devices were not imaginary, but their "analog" functionality
    definitely was. For another example, people used to refer to "phlogiston" as
    the principle of fire. The fact that phlogiston turns out to have been
    imaginary doesn't mean that fire is imaginary.


    --J. R.

    Useless hypotheses:
     consciousness, phlogiston, philosophy, vitalism, mind, free will, qualia,
    analog computing, cultural relativism

         Everything that can happen has already happened, not just once,
         but an infinite number of times, and will continue to do so forever.
         (Everything that can happen = more than anyone can imagine.)

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