Wednesday, August 18, 2004

From the Dark Tower of my memory

You wanna read something that was left on the cutting-room floor (probably deservedly so) in my just-released report on nanostorage and nanomemory? At the risk of total humiliation, here goes:

    He held the dipper out to Jake. When Jake reached for it, Tick-Tock pulled it back.

    "First, cully, tell me what you know about dipolar computers and transitive circuits," he said coldly.

    "What ..." Jake looked toward the ventilator grille, but the golden eyes were still gone. He was beginning to think he had imagined them after all. He shifted his gaze back to the Tick-Tock Man, understanding one thing clearly; he wasn't going to get any water. He had been stupid to even dream he might. "What are dipolar computers?"

    In Stephen King's best-selling horror/scifi/western epic "Dark Tower" book series, the main characters come upon the apocalyptically dysfunctional city of Lud, where this "Mad Max"-style vision of the future is brought to you by out-of-control "dipolar computers." The computers, of course, outlast mankind's ability to remain civilized toward one another. So as the Luddites (yes, what else would they be called?) reverted to a comfortable state of barbarism, it was the dipolar computers that retained all the previous collected knowledge of mankind. This is a Stephen King book, so the "dipolar" turns "bipolar," and life becomes hell for humans. But that's beside the point.

    So, what is the point? First, pay attention to popular culture – from Stephen King to England's future king: They just might have more influence on the way any new technology is perceived and accepted than any of the Wall Street kings. Second, Stephen King probably did not pick "dipolar computers" purely out of the abyss of his imagination. In 1997, the same year in which King released "Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands," a small group of scientists got together and founded a new company, California Molecular Electronics Corp.

    Remember 1997? Most of the world was just beginning to learn about the Internet. CALMEC, with its talk of "molecular electronics" seemed to some to have come from a distant planet – and not only to average consumers, but also to their colleagues in the semiconductor world. What was it these folks from the future were peddling?

    Yes. You guessed: "Dipolar computers."

Yeah, I know, but remember that Babe Ruth was also the strikeout king. A great deal of what I write thankfully never makes it beyond my iMac, much less over the bleachers. But what you get in this NanoMarkets report is the stuff that made the cut. I did most of the primary research and wrote most of the profiles on this one.

NanoMarkets, by the way, is a great little company. Company pooh-bah Lawrence Gasman, a battle-hardened telecom vet, is a superb editor and I'm joined here by fellow nanowriting refugee Paul Holister.

I've seen the future of memory and its name is … well, I can't remember now. Just read the report.

NanoBot Backgrounder
'Terabyte territory'
Money for Memory
Nanomanufacturing from the ground up

Update: I apologize to "Dark Tower" fans who posted comments to this entry. Somebody ruined it by introducing pointless profanity and insult (I'm all for profanity with a purpose, though). I couldn't delete just that one comment for some reason, so I had to delete all of them. There was a great little thread going on, correcting me about the year in which Stephen King's "The Waste Lands, Dark Tower Book 3" (

) was released. It was 1992, and not 1997 (when it was re-released). I responded that my inaccurate date was one more reason why that passage was best left on the cutting-room floor. Thank you, Dark Tower fans, for setting me straight. I recently bought a copy of "Song of Susannah The Dark Tower, Book 6" () and I can't wait to catch up with the story of Roland and his ka-tet!