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Computing (FOLDOC) dictionary
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/kom'pyoo-tron"/ 1. A notional unit of computing power
combining instruction speed and storage capacity, dimensioned
roughly in instructions-per-second times
megabytes-of-main-store times megabytes-of-mass-storage.
"That machine can't run GNU Emacs, it doesn't have enough
computrons!" This usage is usually found in metaphors that
treat computing power as a fungible commodity good, like a
crop yield or diesel horsepower. See bitty box, Get a realcomputer!, toy, crank.
2. A mythical subatomic particle that bears the unit quantity
of computation or information, in much the same way that an
electron bears one unit of electric charge (see also bogon).
An elaborate pseudo-scientific theory of computrons has been
developed based on the physical fact that the molecules in a
solid object move more rapidly as it is heated. It is argued
that an object melts because the molecules have lost their
information about where they are supposed to be (that is, they
have emitted computrons). This explains why computers get so
hot and require air conditioning; they use up computrons.
Conversely, it should be possible to cool down an object by
placing it in the path of a computron beam. It is believed
that this may also explain why machines that work at the
factory fail in the computer room: the computrons there have
been all used up by the other hardware. (This theory probably
owes something to the "Warlock" stories by Larry Niven, the
best known being "What Good is a Glass Dagger?", in which
magic is fuelled by an exhaustible natural resource called