Sure, I'll give it a try. If you put two bar magnets next to each other, they tend to flip each other around so that they point in the same direction. Now try to picture an infinitely large universe, which is filled with an infinite number of tiny bar magnets. If all of these magnets pointed in the same direction, there wouldn't be much interesting going on; since all the tiny magnets are already aligned, they won't try to flip each other over, and the universe would be a stable place. (You could still have some fun by flipping a few magnets, and watching the ripples spread as a wave throughout the universe; but that's not what I'm gonna talk about now.)
But let us now consider a different scenario: in one end of the universe, all the magnets are pointing "up", while in the other end of the universe, all the magnets are pointing "down". By themselves, both these regions are stable, since there is nothing inherently "better" about pointing up than pointing down. However, somewhere in between these two far ends of the universe, there has to be a region where the magnets change from pointing up to pointing down; and this is a region of higher energy, since you have all these tiny magnets which are constantly fighting among themselves about which way to point, and constantly trying to flip each other over. This is called a "domain wall" in the case of magnetism, which is an example of a "topological defect". This domain wall can be moved and twisted by flipping a finite number of magnets in the vicinty of the domain wall; but you can't truly get rid of it without flipping an infinite number of magnets throughout the universe, which would end up requiring an infinite amount of energy.
In some quantum field theories, you get analogous situations where a theory has multiple stable "vacuum solutions". If the universe contains fields like that, we would then have two possible scenarios: (i) the entire universe has the same vacuum state (corresponding to all the magnets pointing in the same direction); or (ii) the universe could in principle consist of different stable regions with different vacuum states, with an unstable region called a "topological defect" inbetween, where the different vacua fight for dominance.
wouldn't that make the concept of time fundamentally flawed?
In any given reference frame, time is a well-defined quantity. The fundamentally flawed concept here is the idea of some kind of universal time that passes at the same rate everywhere in the universe, because relativity tells us that the observed passage of time is affected by things like velocity, acceleration, and gravitation, and therefore varies between different reference frames -- and we have no objective reason to say that any particular reference frame in the universe is inherently superior.
So while the atomic clock might measure the local passage of time with near perfect accuracy in the reference frame where we place it, the results will just be approximate in any other reference frame.
I can imagine a couple of applications of these transistors though...
Many numerical simulations require repeated random sampling of some process, and then combine the results in the end. If you're averaging some billion simulations, the result should be quite robust to fluctuations in the results of each simulation. Thus it might well be worth it to use 10 billion unreliable transistors instead of 1 billion reliable transistors, if they cost the same.
Another application could be to generate random numbers. Let's say that you have a pseudorandom number generator with periodicity N, and your unreliable transistors makes the algorithm do a random jump after an average of N/100 numbers. Wouldn't that be "random enough" for more applications than just the pseudorandom number generator itself?
Its DNA sequence has been withheld, until an antidote has been found. [...] Is this the right move?
We arrive at the same question as with security and open source software: if the DNA sequence is withheld, doesn't that reduce the probability of an antidote being discovered?
Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves. -- Lazarus Long