Computron /kom'pyoo-tron`/ N. 1. [common] A Notional Unit Of Computing Power Combining Instruction Speed And Storage Capacity

HomeFortune CookiesJargon File

computron /kom'pyoo-tron`/

n. 1. [common] 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 real computer!
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. (The
popularity of 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 fueled by
an exhaustible natural resource called `mana'.)