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A Compact Sized "Why?-BOOM" machine.

Posted: Thu Mar 09, 2017 4:46 pm UTC
by stopmadnessnow
You know those machines in old sci-fi series which can be destroyed by asking them "Why?", don't you? How would you build a compact version of them? Maybe not using transistors or valves? And not looking like any current laptop or tablet (so maybe no circuit boards, which would rule out looking like a Raspberry Pi).

Re: A Compact Sized "Why?-BOOM" machine.

Posted: Thu Mar 09, 2017 6:51 pm UTC
by Soupspoon
Why?

Re: A Compact Sized "Why?-BOOM" machine.

Posted: Thu Mar 09, 2017 7:45 pm UTC
by ahammel
stopmadnessnow wrote:You know those machines in old sci-fi series which can be destroyed by asking them "Why?", don't you?

I...do not.

Re: A Compact Sized "Why?-BOOM" machine.

Posted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 7:19 am UTC
by PM 2Ring
I've read a few stories where computers were wrecked / frozen by setting them impossible or difficult tasks, eg, some version of the Liar Paradox, find the last digit of pi, prove Goldbach's conjecture, etc.

One memorable short story in this genre is The Monkey Wrench by Gordon R Dickson.

Spock used the pi trick in the Star Trek episode Wolf in the Fold when the spirit of Jack the Ripper "haunted" the ship's computer.

TVTropes calls this a Logic Bomb.

Re: A Compact Sized "Why?-BOOM" machine.

Posted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 11:09 am UTC
by Soupspoon
The problem with the "BOOM!" part is that a computing device that hits a computational stone wall (or, rather, never gets to the infinitely regressing far-end-of-the-road) tends not to actually explode. At worst (if designed without true consideration for peak effort, here being sustained) they tend to fizzle and fail. Or a power regulator overloads and (at least until it/the fuse is replaced) the actual gubbins are dead by disconnection and not by destruction.

Let's say, as an attempt to replicate the "using too many processing resources" in the fragile way asked for, there's an array of Babbage Machines powered through a continuously variable gearbox from a steam-engine. As more and more of the clanking machinery is asking for power, the engine speeds up as the gearing shifts down (presumably the governor on the steam device is linked to the speed of the computational side of the gearbox, in this rather odd setup). At some point, if we have supplied more powerable mechanisms than can safely be spun up at once, the engine over-revs and may then pop a throw-rod or crack a clackvalve... But the greater mass of computational machinery then just grinds to a halt. Or maybe the single point of failure is that treaturous gearbox, but similarly it's a "popped fuse/PSU module failure", not a "brain overheat".

A destructive failure of an Analytical Engine itself would be through the overrevving of any individual computational side, through direct linking from the steam-end, still ungoverned or the governor allowed run wilder than strictly wise. Which is a basic design failure. Self-modification of its speed to keep up with an asymptotically demanding task, without practical limit except for the material limits that the designers had apparently been so determined to ignore at design time, to exclude the far more practical sacrificial links. 'Fuses' limits the fuller capabilities, yes, but deliberately so.


On the other hand, in Star Trek (especially!) they tend to put their fusable links directly behind bridge consoles, meaning that if the power surges from the external shields being impacted exceed the levels the GNDN pipes can handle, their primary effect seems to be designed to be to explode directly in the faces of bridge crew, enough to throw them across the room, with numerous opportunities for injuries. (They obviously don't believe in unions, in the 24th Century, or else they content themselves with far superior injury payments that it is not as worth removing the dangers of high-energy feedbacks from the viciniyies of even the highly trained command crew.) So, in the Trekverse, I could imagine a whole galactic blindsidedness affecting every single organisation and independent entity, almost as if you just had to install install a kilogram of C4 in the trunk of every Ford Pinto you made, because it would be unthinkable to not do it...

Re: A Compact Sized "Why?-BOOM" machine.

Posted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 1:06 pm UTC
by speising
Maybe you could strap the battery of an S7 in place of the CPU cooler of a PC. And then induce some CPU intensive computation (the "logic bomb"). After a while, you'll get some nice pyrotechnics.

Anyway, the problem with logic bombs is that any computer advanced enough to even understand the question will just show a virtual middle finger to the malicious questioner.

Re: A Compact Sized "Why?-BOOM" machine.

Posted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 8:29 pm UTC
by Kino22x
speising wrote:Maybe you could strap the battery of an S7 in place of the CPU cooler of a PC. And then induce some CPU intensive computation (the "logic bomb"). After a while, you'll get some nice pyrotechnics.

Or you could just overvolt the battery. Plus it wouldn't be dangerous at all that way. Or at least that's what the TSA told me. 8)

Re: A Compact Sized "Why?-BOOM" machine.

Posted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 7:27 pm UTC
by SuicideJunkie
Build your droid with the CPU in the head, and use a big hat as the heat sink.
Include an exotic skull material for your system which makes it impervious to the protagonist's physical attacks, but has an autoignition point slightly above your normal thermal cutoffs.

Your enemies can then confuse your droid to heat up the CPU and then when it is at its limit, knock its hat off so the head bursts into flames.