[Few people in recent memory have kicked up as big a ruckus on the internet as Jack Shulman, president of New Jersey-based American Computer Company (ACC). CNI News has previously reported on Shulman's claims, including 1) the possibility that Bell Labs scientists invented the transistor in 1947 after studying alien artifacts from Roswell (or some other UFO crash); and 2) American Computer's announcement of a potentially revolutionary invention, the transcapacitor (transcap or T-cap), which not only could make the transistor and integrated circuit seem primitive by comparison, but which also may have been derived from study of alien technology, as recorded in an old "laboratory notebook" in Shulman's possession.
The ACC web site [http://www.american-computer.com] has been adding new elements to this story at the rate of several per week in recent weeks, fueling a growing anticipation among internet onlookers that something "Really BIG" has got to break the surface pretty soon. Shulman himself has appeared several times on the nationally syndicated radio talk show "Sightings on the Radio" with Jeff Rense. The "Sightings" website [http://www.sightings.com] hosts the most complete assemblage of Shulman/ACC UFO-related information available on the net.
Of all the claims made by Shulman, perhaps none is more intriguing than the transcapacitor. Shulman has described this alleged device in enough detail to attract the serious attention of electronics experts. Shulman says it already exists and will soon be manufactured into consumer products, such as a computer memory device with vastly larger capacity than current hard drives. If Shulman is right, his new device will seem, in hindsight, to have appeared as if by magic, with almost magical properties -- just like the transistor did 50 years ago. Not only might he revolutionize the computer industry, not only might he become an incalculably rich man, but he might very well blow the lid off UFO secrecy in the bargain. Not bad.
Needless to say, electronics experts are trying to understand how Shulman's device might work. Since, in his public disclosures, he has withheld some important details of its structure -- as anyone would expect in such a circumstance -- those trying to evaluate his claims are required to speculate quite a bit. Nonetheless, a lot can be learned from what Shulman has said. The question is: Does his device make any sense? Can it be real?
CNI News recognizes that it is too soon for final answers. But it's not too soon to point out potential problems with Shulman's T-cap claims, in the interest of honest inquiry. We invite Jack Shulman to address the comments which follow.
We asked electronics expert Mitch Randall to evaluate the transcapacitor in terms that any non-technical reader can understand. After studying every public statement Shulman or ACC representatives have made concerning the T-cap, Randall sent us this essay.
Mitch Randall is a resident of Boulder, Colorado. He holds a masters degree in electrical engineering and works full time designing radars and lidars for atmospheric remote sensing at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, while also pursuing a Ph.D. in physics at the University of Colorado. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
AN "ELECTRONICS GUY" TALKS ABOUT THE T-CAP
Copyright 1998 by Mitch Randall
All Rights Reserved. Printed with permission
(February 1, 1998) -- In mid July of 1997, American Computer Corporation (ACC) posted an intriguing story on their web page posing the question of whether the transistor could have been the result of recovered alien technology. In early December, as momentum and interest was growing in their claims, ACC upped the ante and announced that they had uncovered a previously overlooked alien component: the Transcapacitor (or T-Cap). Since that time, internet activity has reached near fever pitch in response to the frequent ACC web posts and their startling claims. Is ACC leading us to a technological revolution, or perpetrating a very blatant and coordinated UFO hoax? How can we evaluate claims about a technology that could be centuries ahead of our own?
Historically, a new technological breakthrough requires a new approach, and is usually hard to understand for practitioners of the technology it replaces. To be fair then, we need to approach the T-Cap claims with an open mind and with the understanding that the new technology may not make any sense at first. For the moment, let's accept that the internal workings of this device may seem like magic in light of what is known about the physics of semiconductors today. Then what, if anything, can we say about ACC's claims? If we overlook the internal magic, there are still important claims we can check on.
The T-Cap, as described, is an electrical component with five wires. Any claims of "magic" behavior have to stop at the leads of the device, where we enter the domain of standard electrical theory. (This assumes that the T-Cap doesn't emit some as yet unknown field on IT'S wires; an arguably good assumption.) Electrical theory comfortably deals with unknown devices by treating them as "black boxes" and merely characterizing what the wires do in response to various inputs. This is just like how you use your TV remote or a calculator; you don't have to know what's inside, all you have to know is what happens when you push different buttons. The details of the internal workings aren't important.
The T-Cap is claimed, among other things, to be very well suited as a storage element for computer memory. To start, ACC claims that a single T-Cap can store a large number. This would be a great step forward because current technology uses transistors which can only store one bit (in other words, a very small number). A big number corresponds to more bits, and more bits stored in a single device corresponds to the ability to cram more memory onto a single chip. Therefore, this is a very important number. How big do they claim the number to be?
"We estimate that T-CAP Memory could run in the 1/10th of a Picasecond [sic] range per cell, each cell storing up to a number as large as 10 with 23 digits after it in encoded decimal, or 2 to 512th power, in an analog to binary."
Those who have followed this story may have seen these numbers quoted several times. However, the two numbers quoted as equivalent are, in fact, vastly different: 2 to the 512th power is about 10 to the 154th power. Given that this number is so important, it is notable that this error has propagated with the story since the beginning, being repeated several times.
Let's assume that they intended the smaller of the two numbers, 10 to the 23rd power, which is about 2 to the 75th power (a 75 bit number). This number is actually almost incomprehensibly large, literally astronomical -- a stack of that many sheets of paper would stand 1000 light years high, 200 times further than the distance to the closest star! It is because this number is so large that we will be able to draw conclusions about how the T-Cap can and can't work.
Armed with the knowledge that a single T-Cap can store the equivalent of 75 bits, let's look at the statements about how this number would be read. After all, a T-Cap memory bank wouldn't do us much good if it couldn't be accessed by ordinary 20th century computer electronics. ACC claims the number stored in the T-Cap can be read "using only a single Transcap device and a simple circuit design." The T-Cap being read is apparently "discharged" into a "holding cell" of Transcapacitors on its "Memory Control chip." The memory control chip "converts the voltage level to and from binary digital values."
To give ACC the benefit of the doubt, we can't take these quotes at face value. The reason is that there is no circuit known today, simple or not, which can convert a voltage level to a 75 bit number. If this were possible, you would be able to buy a postal scale that could weigh your mail down to the atom! This is quite absurd, so let's look deeper to see if we can make sense of the claims.
It is claimed that the T-Cap uses an "energy-modulation signature approach," and that "it can store the oscillatory energy and discharge it in sub nanosecond pulses." Unfortunately, these statements sound more like phrases from "Star Trek" than an electronics trade journal; apparent nonsense to the electronics expert. Maybe it is because "some of the details of the Transpacitor are being intentionally omitted to provide basic protection to the patents being filed." At this point, then, all we can do is guess.
So how DOES the "simple circuit" read the number stored in the T-Cap, which has only five leads? To appreciate this problem, consider that your TV remote has 20 or so buttons and allows you to access as many as 200 channels. However, what if there were 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 [10 to the 23rd power] channels, and your remote only had 5 buttons? Well, for one thing, we know the solution wouldn't be simple!
Besides using a voltage level, as ACC stated, numbers can also be represented using time. All other schemes are just variants of these two. The only exception would be some type of encoded data format, which is a special case I'll discuss later. Let's look at a few forms of time coding that ACC's statement could possibly have been referring to.
Simple time coding: Maybe the T-Cap represents the number by a pulse of a certain length in time. For the TV remote example, this would correspond to holding down the button for a long time or a short time depending on whether you wanted a high channel or low channel. But if you held the button ever so slightly longer or shorter, you would get the wrong channel. The accuracy required depends on how long a time corresponds to the highest number. If the "simple circuit" could measure the T-Cap's pulse to an accuracy of 1 nanosecond [one billionth of a second, about the limit of accuracy for a "simple circuit" with today's technology], then the highest number would have to be represented by nothing shorter than a 3-million year pulse. This is because each additional second represents a channel a billion higher, so it would take 3 million years worth of seconds to indicate channel 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. This certainly can't be the method ACC is referring to.
Frequency coding: Another form of time coding would represent the stored number by a certain frequency or number of pulses per second. Back to the remote: this representation means you would slowly push the button on and off to select a low channel, or rapidly push it on and off for a high channel. The fastest you could tap the button would correspond to the highest channel. If you could tap the button as fast as one billion times per second, which is five times faster than the clock speed of a late-model desktop computer, this means you would select channel 1 by tapping once every 3 million years; the math works out the same because frequency coding is just another form of time coding. Obviously this also cannot be the method ACC is referring to.
Counting: Another form of time coding would have the T-Cap count out a certain number of pulses for each number. 1 pulse for a 1, 2 pulses for a 2, 100 pulses for the number 100, etc... Well, if the T-Cap sends out pulses at the rate of one billion counts per second, it would take 3 million years to count out the biggest number. Again, this method cannot be the one ACC is referring to.
The only method left is some type of serial data encoding. Serial data encoding is the method used by your computer's serial port, which has no trouble representing a 75 bit number. When you use your TV remote to select channel 125, you push the 1 button, then the 2 button, then the 5 button, which is a form of data encoding. However, I assert that this method is too complex for a T-Cap, which is said to be composed of "only four fundamental elements". This type of encoding requires some type of algorithm (or program) to break the number down into a sequence (which is what your brain does in order to figure out what buttons to push next.)
Another type of serial data encoding is analogous to selecting your channel from a menu. Here the TV could present a menu of options, and by having you choose from them with your 5 buttons, it could tell what channel you want. There is a way that a memory controller could "ask" the T-Cap questions and from the answers be able to determine the number stored in it. It would require the T-Cap to have two very special properties: 1) If you pulse a pin, the number stored in the T-Cap would be cut in half, and 2) Another pin would indicate if the stored number is even or odd. With these two pins, a controller could determine the value of the stored number after 75 pulses. You can see how this works by trying it yourself. Pick a number. If the number is even, write down a zero; if it's odd, write down a one. Divide the number by two and repeat. When your number is zero, you will have written down the binary representation for that number. I believe this scheme or a variant of it is the only one that could possibly be involved in reading a large number with a simple circuit in a reasonable amount of time while requiring the inner workings of the T-Cap to be only mildly magic.
However, ACC has never indicated any characteristics anything like these for the T-Cap. In fact, as seen above, they have indicated methods of operations which we have just seen to be impractical. Here is an example of a statement from ACC pertaining to how it represents its stored energy (or number):
"...the Transcap could change the way we transmit signals along wires: by using its energy-modulation signature approach, we might even be able to cram megabits of information per second along ordinary circuits used for dial up telephone lines today at only thousands of bits per second."
They must not be referring to the serial encoding just outlined, which is the only practical method that can be used for the T-Cap, because that's the most fundamental way to transmit data and has been around for decades. What's more, there is something very bothersome about their statement: they imply that the T-Cap can generate a new type of signal on a phone line. However, the theory of data transmission along wires has been well studied and, in the case of telephone cables, is not limited by current electronic technology. Current electronics are capable of generating any kind of signal that ordinary telephone lines can handle, limited only by our imaginations. I'll reiterate that the magic of the T-Cap stops at its leads, where we enter the domain of ordinary electronics.
The way in which the T-Cap connects to 20th century electronics is but one of many details found in ACC's claims. However, this aspect is of particular importance to us because it is one thing that we can actually check up on. We can't draw too many conclusions from the descriptions of the fantastic inner workings of the T-Cap. In fact, to be fair, we should expect that the inner workings will seem like magic. But we can draw conclusions about the connection to today's electronics, because the theory and the limits are well understood.
ACC says the number stored in the T-Cap can be read with a "simple circuit." This means the T-Cap doesn't use time coding or level coding, but must use some type of serial data encoding. This mode of operation would indeed require "magical" operation of the T-Cap. However, ACC has never even hinted at this mode and, in fact, has made statements that all but rule it out.
There seems to be no way we can connect "simple circuits" to the T-Cap given any of ACC's claims. Until we can fit this claim into a framework that fits with current technology, we have reason to be skeptical about ALL of their claims.
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