Initial reports are a little ambiguous but if the Wikipedia entry is to be believed I don’t have reason to faint as I was initially inclined (violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics is a very big deal in my world view).
Still, it is perhaps as big a deal as electronics. And since Maxwell’s Demon is very much like the very first electronic device, the diode, the analogy works pretty well. If the analogy holds, as things scale, then the analog of the integrated circuit will be mind boggling let alone the analog of the multi-core, multi-CPU, desktop computer.
We’re talking about two different subjects here. 1. At the lowest end of the plausibility scale, the “demon”, which exists only in the imagination, must draw upon an undefined, yet apparently magical power source to operate. 2. At the other end we have nanotechnology (plausible, under active development, and having mind boggling implications) which doesn’t purport to get something from nothing.
I choose to see no connection between the two– like astrology verses astronomy.
Maxwell proposed the “Demon” as a thought experiment to test a hypothesis. The “demon” could have been “constructed” by any means including technology unknown in Maxwell’s time and the thought experiment would still be valid. Maxwell did not intend for it to be literally a “demon”. It was just “something” to separate fast moving molecules from slow moving molecules. The thought experiment was expected to prove that the 2nd law would not be violated. The creation of the such devices/”demons” has been attempted ever since then. Some even appear to work at a macroscopic level and only after careful study are found to not violate the 2nd law. This is the first device that I know of that actually works at the molecular level in a manner approximating the tiny demon of Maxwell’s thought experiment. It does require additional energy input in the form of light and so, again, does not violate the 2nd law but the first article didn’t make that clear.