Macbi wrote:What exactly do people mean when they say a conduit can be "overclocked"?
It means that it can accept two signals separated by less than the repeat time.
I added a little more detail about this under overclocking
to the latest Life Lexicon. There are actually two distinct ways "overclocking" is used.
In some cases, like the syringe or the semi-cenarks, there are a few periods where the mechanism works, and then a few periods where it doesn't work, usually because of something like a temporary spark that has to get out of the way. And then the mechanism is safe to use any time after the official repeat time. With this more recent usage, "overclocking" doesn't add any extra restrictions to the use of the mechanism, it just means that it's not guaranteed to work for all higher periods.
The old sense of "overclocking" is a slightly trickier concept. A Silver reflector, for example, has a repeat time of 497, but it can reflect p250 streams perfectly well (and nearby periods).
However, at p250, the reset glider generated by a given signal input actually cleans up after the _following_ signal -- and that means that once you start reflecting a p250 stream, you can't stop! Any missing signal will make the whole circuit fail. This "dangerous" use of a circuit is the older meaning of overclocking.
As an aside, it might have been possible to invent single-channel construction technology well before the syringe came along, as far back as 1998 if only someone had thought of doing the searches. There might possibly be enough adjustability in the signal timings of overclocked Silver reflectors, to allow for a universal elbow operation toolkit. That would be an interesting line of steampunk-Life research.
-- Of course, as soon as you finished a construction recipe, your construction arm mechanism would explode -- but that's actually okay in some cases. For something like a Demonoid, that would be a perfectly good way to start a self-destruct sequence. There's a startup problem equivalent to the shutdown problem but it's easily solved by adding a boat on the first glider output.