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PhD student creates water computer

Bilkstein decided to make his water-computer work out some simple Boolean operations

Currently studying for his PhD in Chicago, Paulo Blikstein believes you don't need electronics to make a computer. He has created a computation device that can produce answers without the need for electrons to give it a leg up. So what did he use? Water, of course.

"Fluidics is a very important field of study that is widely used in aerospace or mission-critical applications," says Blikstein. "Also, military technologies use Fluidics in order to prevent malfunction in a nuclear war, when electric devices cease to work."

He decided to make his water-computer work out some simple Boolean operations. To do so, Bilkstein created a water block using a laser cutter - though it took him three separate attempts. He passed two streams of water through the block to create two different types of switch. When one of them is on, a XOR gate is created.

When both are on, the jets collide and the water moves straight down through the block - an AND gate.

Using both instructions and multiple blocks, Bilkstein was able to get the machine to work out basic instructions.


Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.