US boffins: Laptops will be as hot as the Sun by 2030
Nanodemon tech to prevent notebook novae
US boffins say that the tendency of laptops to run hotter as performance increases is out of control - and notebooks will be as hot as the surface of the sun by 2030.
The American brainboxes reckon to solve the problem by using nanotech demons to violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
"Laptops are very hot now, so hot that they are not 'lap' tops anymore," said Avik Ghosh, associate prof at the University of Virginia.
"If we continue at our current pace ... these devices will be as hot as the sun in 10 to 20 years."
Ghosh and his fellow Virginia U boffin Mircea Stan say this just won't do. Unfortunately, the tendency of a laptop to slowly grill the knees of users would seem to be an inevitable consequence of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which basically says that heat moves from a hot body to a colder one and there's nothing you can do about it.
But Ghosh and Stan reckon there could be a loophole.
"Chlorophyll, for example, can convert photons into energy in highly efficient ways that seem to violate traditional thermodynamic expectations," says Ghosh. He also reckons that "Brownian ratchets" might be used to turn energy into mechanical effort, so reducing heat.
Essentially, in order to pull off such tricks, Ghosh and Stan will need to unscrew an inscrutable physics conundrum posed in 1871 by renowned Scottish brain James Clerk Maxwell, who reckoned you could possibly avoid the Second Law by reducing entropy levels - the amount of natural disorder in the system. This is "Maxwell's Demon", which the two Virginia brainboxes aim to tackle by moving the effort out of theoretical physics and into engineering - particularly nanoengineering, which they think could harness the Demon for the good of humanity.
The new supercool demon nanotech laptops would also - in addition to the crowd-pleasing feature of not vapourising their owners' legs in a ball of molten boiling plasma - have extra good battery life, as they would by necessity waste far less energy than current models. There might also be performance gains.
Indeed, if the Virginian researchers can reach their goal, laptops will be almost the least of the technologies and devices which would benefit - everything from cars to power stations would potentially work much better and more efficiently. It may be a long shot, but that's what basic research is supposed to be about. But not too basic, according to Stan - he wants to get this off the blackboard and into the lab at the very least.
"These theories have been looked at from a physics perspective for years, but not from the perspective of electrical engineering," he says. "So that's where we are trying to break some ground." ®
The opposite will happen
In the longer term the overall performance per watt will keep climbing but the need for the most performance possible will be reduced. There won't likely be any truely revolutionary new battery technologies so what we are left with is the other problem laptops have, their short runtime.
Laptop heat levels will be reduced because people will want longer runtime more than a performance level that allows doing exotic things with their laptop. They'll want other factors that coincide to less heat and more runtime. Smaller, lighter, cheaper, a basic terminal to interface with the cloud is what everyone will be using instead of today's crude mobile version of a desktop PC.
Maxwell's Demon was beaten ages ago
I'm guessing these guys don't read Make! Magazine. They published an article that showed you how to conduct the Maxwell's Demon experiment in real life and get an, apparently impossible, result. Maxwell's Demon supposedly lets you create a temperature differential from a constant temperature source by using a friendly demon. However by using a cyclonic concentric air-stream you can produce hot and cold air from a room temperature feed.
Does no-one look outside their field any more?
The demons or Imps have been discussed on a number of occasions not least in science fiction.
I do not remember who the the 1960s writer was who provided a highly entertaining piece which imagined several different type of imp, one passing fast electrons for the generation of power, one Brownian motion for heat others for selecting atoms for refining minerals. There imps were also self propagating.
Of course there was a downside, when the thermal imps got loose they started fires everywhere. So, when this technology is sorted just be careful where you put your laptop because your bum might catch fire.
@ Destroy All Monsters
I had to laugh at the subject line because that was almost exactly what I thought as I read the article.
All in all what these scientists are proposing is all a nice theory but they are making some rather large assumptions. Not to mention attempting to apply Maxwell's Demon in a way that they will "discover" isn't going to so much work out. I say "discover" because I suspect at the root of all this is a good marketing play on their part to score a large sum of grant money.
I was 56cm 32 years ago when i was born.
Now i am 1m75. I believe I will be 2m for my 40th birthday.
Guess I won't be flying Ryanair by then