Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The software revolution affects the physical world.

Is it possible to have a universal manipulation machines, that can produce anything you want? (perhaps even on a individual base?)

It is a long time now that people immagine Turing machines made of molecules; the idea is actually old, and in 1959 R. Feynman gave a famous talk very much in that direction.

But I've recently found new developments on the idea:

- programmable matter, by Toffoli, one of the main guys in the cellular automata community. The proposal there is to create a universal flat material, that can be programmed to fold in different
ways, and shaped in that way in a number of possible objects.

- and quite on the same wavelenght: aaProgrammable Self-Assembly: Constructing Global Shape Using Biologically-Inspired Local Interactions and Origami Mathematics, by Radhika Nagpal from MIT.

- even more interesting is the concept of using force fields to move objects around in a production line. Now this really sounds like sci-fi to me...

...and it should: we are after leaving in the XXI century!
(replicator?! a coffe please.)

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