Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Replacing Electricity With Light

Replacing Electricity With Light: First Physical 'Metatronic' Circuit Created

The technological world of the 21st century owes a tremendous amount to advances in electrical engineering, specifically, the ability to finely control the flow of electrical charges using increasingly small and complicated circuits. And while those electrical advances continue to race ahead, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are pushing circuitry forward in a different way, by replacing electricity with light.

MIT almost produces an optoelectronic computer  chip

The main advantage of using light is a huge reduction in power, and potentially a vast increase in bandwidth. In general, increasing bandwidth over an electrical connection requires more power. Computers already constitute a large percentage of humanity’s power needs, and optical interconnects could go a long way to keeping power consumption down in the long term. The same multiplexing techniques that are used to carry terabits per second over fiber optic networks would also apply to computer chips, too.

Shining Up

Image Credit: NASA / Found at
I love NaNoWriMo. The energy of the group that I write with fed me, sustained me like the sun does while I threw down word after word after word, trying to get my story out of my head. March is supposed to be the month that we edit those stories, but I didn't get into mine until May. There were other things that had to be done first and after all the energy I poured into writing more than 90,000 words I definitely needed the time away to recharge and come at the editing process with a clear head. The time I spent in November and December writing was maybe the best I've ever had creating a story.

And I'm having almost as much fun working on making the novel more coherent, more rich with detail, and in the end better. I dislike the editing process as much as any writer but this time it's different. I'm more invested in the overall tale than I have been in the past, even with other things I wrote or drew or created.

I've been adding scenes, cutting entire passages and rewriting tons of stuff as I'm going along. One of the things I'm doing differently is when I take out more than half a sentence, I'm dropping it into another document called Deleted Scenes. Not everything there is a scene, but when I go back to read through this draft I'll want to make sure that I know what I took out. The beauty of my word processor (Scrivener) is that everything I'm adding is automatically in red and I can drag and drop highlighted text from one chapter into the Deleted Scenes document at the end. I can then tell Scrivener to not count the Deleted Scenes document in the word count.

This means that I may add a thousand words showing something I told in a couple of paragraphs, move the old words and I can keep track of the new word count easily. I suspect that by the time it's all done, I'll have removed around 10,000 words and added another 20,000 or so. That'll bring the manuscript to right around 100,000 which is a nice length for a science fiction novel.

Like most other writers I know, I'm not really a fan of the editing process. I much prefer the act of creation, of exploration. However what I'm finding this time - with a story that I deeply care about - is that the refining can be just as satisfying. It's a process of exploration, editing is, just as much as the writing.

Well, almost.