“A physical computer (sometimes called a physical machine or a physical box) is a hardware-based device, such as a personal computer. The term is generally used to differentiate hardware-based computers from software-based virtual machines”.
So what does this quote mean? Well it’s quite simple. What is a computer? Well it computes, it helps us with our lives. You may have seen the wildly popular video of science youtuber Steve Mould making a water computer. That is an example of a Physical Computer. The device you are reading this on is a physical computer (Unless you printed it out). The device you are reading this on probably has millions of transistors, perhaps tens of millions.
“In the digital world, a transistor is a binary switch and the fundamental building block of computer circuitry.”
These transistors keep on switching on and off. When a switch is letting information through, it gives the signal of 1, when not, it gives the signal of 0. These transistors make gates, there are several different types of gates, depending on what the task is. These gates make up circuits and the circuits make up the system. Here’s an example of an and gate. A gate where there need to be the combination of two inputs for an output.
One can easily make physical computers too, one can find many videos of people building logic gates through different means. Some videos will be linked down below.
Fabrication and use of custom sensors or collectors for scientific experiments can also be described through physical computing, though the term is rarely used to describe them as such.
An example of physical computing modeling is the Illustris project, which attempts to precisely simulate the evolution of the universe from the Big Bang to the present day, 13.8 billion years later. A few well known hardware inventions are :- Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Micro Bit, Computer, Internet of things and the Integrated Circuit.
A common example where physical computing is used while programming an LED to flash, reading environmental data from a sensor, or even controlling robotic objects. Physical computing can be used in education as students can experience computing in a hands-on way that allows them to design and create interactive objects.
– Arhaan Babar Ray and Kabir Sharma, 7