My random thoughts and ideas for your edification and enjoyment.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Treknology Update: The Replicator 

From USA Today, we learn that a physicist is planning to create the replicator:
Gershenfeld's ultimate goal is to invent home fabrication machines that will be as common as Hewlett-Packard ink-jet printers. They will be able to make anything: custom Barbie clothes, MP3 players, cow-shaped cream pitchers, Barry Bonds baseball cards from the 1980s when he looked skinny — you name it.

"We're aiming at making the Star Trek replicator," Gershenfeld says, referring to the machine on the USS Enterprise that could conjure up a cup of coffee or a toenail clipper on command.

How far along is Gershenfeld? Well, in one sense, not very. His fabs look like a cross between a computer and a high school shop class. The gadgets include a laser cutter and a milling machine, and together they make parts that must be assembled rather than churning out whole finished products. Users have tended to make one-off oddities, including a bag for silencing a scream in case you just have to let one loose in a crowd.

But Gershenfeld argues that his fabs today are the historical equivalent of 1970s minicomputers.
Godspeed, man...


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