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Molecular Mechanosynthesis Not Far Away in the Dreams of a Journalist and Star Trek Fan

In the hope that Star Trek-like replicators are close at hand, one journalist gives credence to the idea that molecular manufacturing will be a reality by 2020

1 min read
Molecular Mechanosynthesis Not Far Away in the Dreams of a Journalist and Star Trek Fan

Molecular manufacturing is a seductive concept, especially for journalists when they first encounter the idea.

A recent example comes from a publication called International Business Times, and it reveals what is really the most attractive bit for these scribes: “Star Trek.”

The journalist, who files his report as a video, characterizes those who question the timeline and possibility for Star Trek-like replicators (I guess what he means is those who are skeptical of molecular mechanosynthesis) are “critics and naysayers.”

These critics are quickly swept aside in this brief report because, it explains, “Agents” at the Center for Responsible Technology “have stated that they believe molecular manufacturing will almost certainly be a reality by 2020.” I feel reassured, don’t you?

Of course, a tedious and unrewarding debate could ensue about what it means for molecular manufacturing to be a reality, but even one of the more optimistic of futurists, Ray Kurzweil, doesn’t believe nanobots will be swimming around in our brains until 2030.

I tend to follow more closely the timeline of Philip Moriarty, who said in a recent interview that in 2040 he hoped we will be “at the point where we could simply instruct a computer to build nanostructures, and let the computer handle all the details—no human operator involvement required.”

The critical word in the above is nanostructures, which is far cry from a cup of tea, Earl Grey, hot.

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

2 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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