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Ok, lemme start by explaining what I'm waffling about and apologizing cause this is gonna be a bad explanation.

In my world, magic is an invisible energy that is constantly generated everywhere in the world. In its raw form, it clumps together, and it moves freely through all forms of matter. However, magic can be absorbed and focused through a few different methods. The method relevant to this question is through gemstones. Raw magic is attracted to gemstones, the strength of this attraction is determined by the surface area of the gemstone, and the transparency of the gemstone.

When a gemstone absorbs raw magic, it focuses it into two charges, a positive magic charge and a negative magic charge. These charges will remain in the gemstone, not necessarily having a location inside the gemstone, instead just being pervasive. The gemstones opacity determine how long the gem can hold two charges in parallel before reacting. Once this reaction triggers, all the charges are converted into energy of a type corresponding to the color of the gem. A gem doesn't have a limit on how much energy it can hold, so smaller gems are used as an output to focus the energy. The three energies that can be manipulated, and the corresponding colors are irrelevant for now. When the reaction triggers, raw magic is released back into the world. The amount of raw magic released is equal to the amount of time the charges spent in the gems, subtracted from the original amount of raw magic.

Focused magic energy can be conducted through metal. The speed at which it is conducted changes between metals, the most conductive metal being mithril. Each metal has an alignment, either being positive or negative. If a conductor has a negative alignment, it conducts a positive magic charge and vice versa. When a magic charge passes through a conductor, it forces the alignment to match the charge. A conductor can be locked to one alignment, but it cannot be unlocked.

The original magic system featured mostly locked conductors that transported a primer charge, then delivered a second "hammer" charge, causing the mechanism to fire. There were deeply engraved and polished crystals that acted as accumulators with maximized surface areas, and then there were quartz batteries that stored the focused magic for further use. But I want to make golems in this world by using this magic system, and in order to that I need to make computers. My current issues are as follows:

  • I need a NOR gate at least, but I don't want to make it just some arbitrary thing, I want it to follow some internal logic.
  • I need a way to change the signal location without outright moving the circuit.
  • I need better bit storage; currently the only way to do that is through having a quartz chip that stores a charge, but reading it requires altering the bit.

That's about it. I hope this was coherent, I apologize if not, and I apologize for the lengthy preamble regardless. Edit: Ok, what I want to do is prove that this system is Turing complete, not necessarily replicating computers in real life. I included the fact that I need to be able to make a NOR gate, cause if it's Turing complete, that should be possible. Long edit, I want to prove the system is Turing complete, not replicate electrical computers.

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    $\begingroup$ Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Worldbuilding Meta, or in Worldbuilding Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Mar 1 at 18:39

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If you have switches, meaning you can efficiently and quickly use small amount of magic to turn larger amount of magic on and off, and you can interconnect switches between themselves, then you can build any logic gate and a turing complete computer.

Like Babbage did not even had any electronics, was planning to build computer with purely mechanical switches and his theory was sound, just the precision machining was not there yet. Later came electrical relays, then tubes then transistors, but the fundamental basis is the same, a switching element.

Moreover, you are describing bipolar system of magic which sounds similar to P and N type of semiconductors - and when we learned to combine these into PN junctions or CMOS circuitry, these kinds of switches are especially fast and efficient, they kickstarted a revolution, exponential improvement by Moore's law.

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As someone with a college degree in computer science myself, I say: handwave it and don't explain it. You get into this level of detail, it will only ever be a pleasant read to those kinds of nerds that get an orgasm when they learn a new trick in C++ or an assembly language. For everyone else, it's just boring.

But if you still feel the need:

  1. A bit of boolean algebra helps here. A NOR gate is basically doing !(A || B). One way we can rewrite this while keeping the same logic is by negating everything and changing the operation, so we have !A && !B. That can be seen as two NOT gates outputing to an AND gate. You put the two NOTs and the AND together inside a box in just the right configuration and the box itself is a NOR gate.

On a side note, I now feel dumb for having paid for a vasectomy. I could just have explained the above to my wife and that would be just as efficient in ensuring I'll never reproduce again.

  1. You connect the gems with wires. That's how the signal moves, as energy flowing through the wires. Just like in real life electric charges move through the board's bus.

  2. Handwave that you need to flip the charge, and remember that a small bit of regular beach sand will have thousands of microscopic quartz crystals in it. There you have a very compact medium to store a lot of data until you are able to industrialize stuff and build proper discs. If your golems are not made of sand, put some into them to act as memory. If they are made of sand, then practically the whole body can store data.

  3. ????

  4. Profit!

And remember, hardware evolves really fast because once you understand how it works, making the same parts smaller and putting more of them into a machine is just a matter of investment and innovation. I would find it very believable if this magitech thing evolves as fast as computers did in real life. Terry Pratchett did something similar with magical computing in the Discworld, going from basic logic gates in a lab to a world wide network of computers in a single lifetime.

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    $\begingroup$ Ah, but Hex's logic gates used ants. $\endgroup$
    – jdunlop
    Mar 1 at 21:35
  • $\begingroup$ @jdunlop so do Kern's in Children of Time, which is a great, serious sci-fi story. $\endgroup$ Mar 1 at 22:04

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