Re: A thread that has nothing to do with memes or the Singularity

Forrest Bishop (
Mon, 2 Dec 1996 13:20:22 -0800

You wrote:
>(great subject, BTW)
>On Mon, 2 Dec 1996, Lyle Burkhead wrote:
>> Suppose you want to build a cell that acts as a refrigerator. The
>> contains a vacuole within which the temperature can be reduced to a
>> point near absolute zero. How could this be done? What mechanism
>> could the cell use to pump heat out of a small region?

I cooked up something I called "Active Insulation" last year, after a
conversation with Marvin Minsky. The idea
is to counter an incoming phonon (or one vector component of the
phonon) with an anti-phonon, analogous to noise cancellation.
One problem I ran into with nanomechanical implementations is the noise
from the mechanism itself.

>- if you just keep a single atom very still, have you created
>efficient cooling?

Yes- of that single atom. Its thermal energy was 3/2kT before the
stilling, then its new temperature is derived from same.

>I think we need something like drexlerian nanotech for this, proteins
>don't work well when temperatures change. In this problem, the
>part seem to be how to insulate the vacuole from the surroundings. My
>suggestion would be a nano-dewar: two geodesic diamondoid spheres with
>vacuum between them, kept concentric by electrostatic forces.
A good start! Usually one wants to transfer material in and out of the
dewar, so some lid or tube is needed.

>I think this is a rather fun problem, but I don't see much use for it.

>What applications do you have in mind>

Minsky had something really cool in mind, but I can't remember right
now what that was.