In a tidbit of news which will get avid Neal Stephenson readers
all hot and bothered, researches have outlined a blueprint for a mechanical nanochip similar in design to Charles Babbage's difference engine. Using the massive, steam-driven Victorian computer as a model, scientists have begun work on new type of computing architecture which would be solely based on nano-mechanical elements. The researchers say that while the devices won't compete with high-speed silicon, they could be utilized for "mundane applications" where the processors can be "slow and cheap" -- and so-very-steampunk, we might add. Of course, the original steam-computer consisted of 25,000 parts and weighed 13 tons, but the developers are hoping to knock at least a few pounds off of that design.