Skip to comments.How Nanotechnology Will Work (Molecular-sized nanoscopic machines will build products.)
Posted on 04/19/2003 1:24:06 AM PDT by Diddley
(Nanotechnology will build molecular and atomic assemblers that can build products.)
In the early 20th century, Henry Ford built a car manufacturing plant on a 2,000-acre tract of land along the Rouge River in Michigan. Built to mass-produce automobiles more efficiently, the Rouge housed the equipment for developing each phase of a car, including blast furnaces, a steel mill and a glass plant. More than 90 miles of railroad track and conveyor belts kept Ford's car assembly line running. The Rouge model was lauded as the most efficient method of production at a time when bigger meant better.
The size of Ford's assembly plant would look strange to those born and raised in the 21st century. In the next 50 years, machines will get increasingly smaller -- so small that thousands of these tiny machines would fit into the period at the end of this sentence.
Within a few decades, we will use these nanomachines to manufacture consumer goods at the molecular level, piecing together one atom or molecule at a time to make baseballs, telephones and cars. This is the goal of nanotechnology. As televisions, airplanes and computers revolutionized the world in the last century, scientists claim that nanotechnology will have an even more profound effect on the next century.
Nanotechnology is an umbrella term that covers many areas of research dealing with objects that are measured in nanometers. A nanometer (nm) is a billionth of a meter, or a millionth of a millimeter.
Then they will build replicators that can be programmed to build more assemblers.
Trillions of assemblers and replicators will fill an area smaller than a cubic millimeter, and will still be too small for us to see with the naked eye.
Assemblers and replicators will work together like hands to automatically construct products
Note that the proposed technology is more about guiding chemical reactions to do molecular assembly than about tiny hands manipulating atoms.
Wow! I didn't think that anyone (Smalley?) would think that it was a digital (finger) process, but rather a molecular (chemical process). Go Figure.
I had no idea. This is serious. Thanks for the heads-up.
Another recent item:
"Molecular manufacturing will bring both great opportunities and great dangers. Nanocomputers will extend desktop computational power by a factor of a billion or more. Nanoscale sensors, computers, and tools will bring surgical control to the molecular level, enabling a revolution in medicine. Light, strong, and inexpensive aerospace structures will make spaceflight easy.
But the future's faster, cheaper, cleaner production of better products will also bring disruption. Advanced lethal and nonlethal weapons, deployed quickly and cheaply, could make the world a more dangerous place. The list of consequences is long, much of it sounding like science fiction."
And add links to a couple of articles:
The Army has speced a jet turbine engine that has a turbine diameter of a human hair. The Army wants this power sources to provide electrical energy for their lap tops, night vision gogles, GPS receivers and all the other battlefield electronics that are now battery powered. One of the battlefield logistic nightmares for the current Gulf War is the amount of Energizer Bunny batteries. Every film clip we watch contains at lesat on of these devices hanging off the soldier's uniform. DARPA MEMS: "Its a Small Small World!
MEMS systems are cool, but very different from nanotechnology. Micro => micrometers, nano => nanometers, so nanosystems are a factor of 1000 smaller in linear dimensions, and 1000 x 1000 x 1000 = 1,000,000,000 times smaller in volume.
It's nanotechnology that will work with molecules to build things from the bottom up, and turn our whole technology base upside down. This is a technology race that we can't afford to lose.
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