The Hardware#The Chaos Device is not a device. It is intended to be a collection of devices, all collaborating to generate true random numbers drawn from the four primordial elements. By true random numbers, we mean numbers that are totally unpredictable by mankind. They arise as a result of uncertain interactions between either atomic particles, or classic physical particles in highly chaotic environments. This is entropy. The Chaos Device captures these random perturbations via a collection of custom designed instruments called Entropy Condensers. There will be several, each focusing on Earth, Water, Air and Fire.
The entropy will be processed by a central artificial mind once condensed. The artificial mind will take the form of a dedicated server that gathers the condensed entropy, distils and refines it to 100% purity, blends and stores it for future use. Distillation is necessary because raw entropy contains fixed and recurring patterns within. Nature doesn't like giving it away entirely for free. These unavoidable entropic impurities dilute the raw material to perhaps 70% - 90% purity, depending on which condensers are used. This is surprisingly good but nevertheless unsuitable for security and cryptographic purposes. We aim to achieve 8.000000 bits /byte as measured on the Fourmilab ent scale which corresponds to 100% pure randomness.
We are currently developing the Photonic Instrument as our first condenser. This is designed to condense entropy from Air in the form of photon shot noise. The Photonic will harvest raw entropy as standard JPEG files from a network camera over ip. There will also be others:
- Plasma Vortex condensing entropy from the Fire of a plasma sphere
- Atomic Seismograph will condense either Nyquist or shot noise entropy from Earth
- Aqua Turbulenta, a Water based condensing instrument
- And perhaps other others...
It may take a while to complete the entire Chaos Device, but we expect to start true random number generation with just the Photonic Instrument. Contrary to perceived wisdom, a segment of the cryptographic community regards blends as being better quality than malts. This may be explained by some form of primal insecurity and elitism regarding artisan hardware generators. However, all commercial true random number generators are effectively malts as far as the underlying entropic sources are concerned. These generators have been extensively tested and certified by international laboratories and agencies, and are used as the basis for multi million pound gaming industries. As Shane tells Joey, if you can use it, one's all you need. REALLYREALLYRANDOM will have several, not because we have to, but because we can.
Associated Non Physicalities #This means software and theory. These are some preliminary thoughts we had as to the way the Chaos Device might work. Subsequently, we've decided not to use GPS position error as a source of entropy. It's not that the error is bad entropy, but the generation rate is extremely slow. We can do better.
The random number generation process is relatively straightforward. We will use the various condensers to capture and digitise some real world entropy, then distil out the true randomness. We will be using an innovative extraction technique developed to cope with randomness extraction from virtually any source of entropy. As so in schematic form:-
We'll focus initially and primarily on ip cameras. REALLYREALLYRANDOM is a Java house, and in Java it is difficult to establish a reliable connection to a USB tethered camera. Java is designed from the ground up to abstract away hardware. This kinda makes it difficult to then try to connect some USB devices. We'll circumvent those complexities by utilising ip cameras that connect via a standard tcp/ip network. Java is very good at networking at the transport level and upwards in the OSI stack. Certain atomic vibrations, oscillations and noises may also be captured by sound cards which are simple to work with under the Java Sound API.
Tomcat isn't another reclusive member of the team, rather the mechanism for serving up this site and our random numbers. We like Tomcat. It's small and cute. Helen also likes Oracle Application Server, but this seems like challenging a sledge hammer factory manager to devise some method for opening seeded hard shelled fruits.
Development stages so far: