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In my story, the humans of Earth have finally made the trek to Venus, and have discovered a previously unknown life form on Venus. On closer inspection of the mucus creatures, they seem to have the Terran equivalent of a computer, and are beginning a new technological era similar to the 2000 dot-com boom on Earth.

They've detected us previously, but their top xenolinguists (and ours) don't understand anything about their communications yet. These creatures are completely without skeletal structure, but use electrically charged particles to remain upright. They are able to harden or soften "limbs", and use specially designated tentacles on their bodies, similar to a gelatinous octopus. With their limbs, they can transfer small electrical charges to any object they touch, and can control just how precise the charge is. They see via thermal sensing that provides a picture in a gelatinous "brain" (a different colored gel inside them that can also move fluidly). Atmospheric pressure, heat, acidity, and electrical discharge (for the most part) mean nothing to these individuals and cause no harm to them; Think giant sentient slimes, and you have a general idea of what they look like. Funnily enough, they breathe CO2 and excrete O3.

Given these creatures live on Venus, they are not only incredibly hot, but would have trouble using computers that are built in the same way as on Earth. To add insult to injury, the screens (visual) and most computational parts (Silicon and solder with some other metals) would either be useless or melt under the intense heat/pressure of Venus.

How can I create a "thermal" computer that my creatures can use with the same functionality of an Earth computer from the last 20th/early 21st century?

My best idea so far would be a screen that uses electricity to heat small points in a "heat screen", but given the creature's electrical charge to hold their body, I don't think the reaction would work. Similarly, I'd look at either a biological or chemical computer, but not sure how the atmosphere and heat would change the necessary composition to allow for increased processing in this.

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    $\begingroup$ You did not really describe how they solve the heat issue in any other area other than computers. Have you figured out how anything else might work on venus or did you start the world building process with high tech stuff? $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 May 29 '18 at 16:43
  • $\begingroup$ @Raditz_35 What do you mean "heat issue"? They're a "hot" species, and I'm only concerned about computers for this particular question. I could explain the rest of their society as I have it, but it would probably be better served for chat in that case. Is there any particular piece you mean by "heat issue"? $\endgroup$ – Anoplexian - Reinstate Monica May 29 '18 at 16:52
  • $\begingroup$ Please explain the down and close votes. I'm available to answer any questions regarding mine, but none have been asked or clarified. $\endgroup$ – Anoplexian - Reinstate Monica May 29 '18 at 21:23
  • $\begingroup$ I think, by "heat issue", the detail that Venus' surface is hot enough to melt lead and some other metals, not to mention fully cook any carbon based organic creature almost as fast as they were exposed to the atmosphere, constitutes a heat issue. $\endgroup$ – pojo-guy May 29 '18 at 22:55
  • $\begingroup$ The down and close votes exist because theres a few humbugs who get off on shutting other people down without explanation or offering advice first. But truth be told you could shorten this up, we dont need to know the biology of the aliens to answer how to mechanically make a computer work in such an environment. $\endgroup$ – TCAT117 May 30 '18 at 4:34
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You might need to work up from basic principles, with logic gates and the like.
One interesting possibility is their ability to transfer precise electrical charges.

A first step would be to figure out the logic gates. Silicon is a semiconductor, and it actually gets more efficient at higher temperatures, unlike metal.
It's melting point is 2,577 degrees Fahrenheit (1,414 degrees Celsius), meaning that it should do just fine even in Venus hot days.

It's also what we use to make transistors in our computer chips by adulterating it with trace amounts of other elements, such as boron or phosphorous.

They could also use something like carbon nanotubes as a semiconductor.

Any metal in the chip could be replaced by different compositions of silicon or carbon, meaning nothing can melt.

They could input into the system by transferring high and low electrical charges, and instead of a visual display they could detect electrical output from the machine.
It might be a bit like how punch cards were used in early computers.

Later development might have a visual display that uses Peltier effect "pixels" to heat and cool small areas very precisely. Heat bleed might be a bit of a problem, as would refresh rate, so no idea what kind of resolution they might end up with, but like all things computer it would probably get better over time.

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  • $\begingroup$ I once read a book where they made a computer by using 30 million soldiers in a really big field using flags and really precise rules. It would be slow, but it is possible to do. XKCD gave a demonstration of how a computer could be made out of rocks. With the abilities that they have I'm sure they could come up with something basic, and then refine it over time. The trick will be to visualize a basic computer, and then extrapolate forward. $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 May 29 '18 at 17:46
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Mechanical computers like the Analytical Engine never got very far on Earth because silicon and electronics are simply so much better. That being said, they are (in-theory) miniaturisable (if nanotechnology is involved then perhaps even to the levels modern computers are). They would probably be made of specialised ceramics similar to modern aluminium oxide derivatives such as aluminum oxynitride. These would also be resistant to atmospheric acidity.

These computers would be more power-hungry than ours, but not so much so that Venusians couldn't power them if they have an industrial society.

As for an interface, options like tactile outputs would work. If you really want a screen I would advise converting a mechanical output into an electrical output using piezoelectricity or simply inductance and then putting that into a steel CRT monitor.

For an input, they could always use their charge imparting ability on a series of relay-type devices whose inputs are then converted into mechanical motion.

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