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here’s some stuff from Wikipedia on machines.

[edit] Simple Machines

The idea that a machine can be broken down into simple movable elements led Archimedes to define the lever, pulley and screw as simple machines. By the time of the Renaissance this list increased to include the wheel and axle, wedge and inclined plane.

[edit] Engines

The word engine derives from “ingenuity” and originally referred to contrivances that may or may not be physical devices.

An automobile engine is called an internal combustion engine because it burns fuel (an exothermic chemical reaction) inside a cylinder and uses the expanding gases to drive a piston. A jet engine uses a compressor to compress air which is burned with fuel so that it expands through a nozzle to provide thrust to an aircraft, and so is also an “internal combustion engine.” [6]

[edit] Computing machines

Computers store and manipulate the flow of electrons, with patterns in this storage and flow being interpreted as information manipulation. See State machine and Turing machine.

Charles Babbage designed various machines to tabulate logarithms and other functions in 1837. His Difference engine is the first mechanical calculator. This machine is considered to be the forerunner of the modern computer though none of them were built in his lifetime.

[edit] Molecular machines

Study of the molecules and proteins that are the basis of biological functions has led to the concept of a molecular machine. For example, current models of the operation of the kinesin molecule that transports vesicles inside the cell as well as the myocin molecule that operates against actin to cause muscle contraction; these molecules control movement in response to chemical stimuli.

Researchers in nano-technology are working to construct molecules that perform movement in response to a specific stimulus. In contrast to molecules such as kinesin and myosin, these nano-machines or molecular machines are constructions like traditional machines that are designed to perform in a task.


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