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« Steady Work | Main | The Spirit of Democracy »

November 01, 2008


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"but we think that true detailed exploration of our Solar System and building of comfortable off-Earth communities for human beings will await the achievement of molecular manufacturing."

Which has been the "nanotech technology" crowd's refrain for the past decade. It runs, roughly, don't do anything. Someday soon, come the revolution, grey goo and nanotech is going to solve all our problems.

The early 20th century labour organiser, Joe Hill, wrote a song about this attitude, The Preacher and the Slave, back in 1911 or so. The chorus went like this...

You will eat, bye and bye,
In that glorious land above the sky;
Work and pray, live on hay,
You'll get pie in the sky when you die.

The siren song of the nanotech twerps is immensely seductive. Just leave all the innovation to them, anything you do short of nanotech is of no value whatsoever, so why waste your time.

Tom Craver

RepRap (or Tommelise) are ready to go to Mars today (or even a few years from now?) and make copies of themselves with nothing more than the raw resources they'll find there? Not last I heard.

I suppose I'm missing something about RepRap - but what I've seen isn't anywhere near self-copying (plastic for extrusion, steel parts, precision motors, circuit boards, wires, computer, sensors, etc) - let alone self-assembling. Why not just make a cheap computer controlled milling machine (as some have) and get better results with stronger, cheaply available stock materials like wood - or plastic if you want to re-melt scrap to make more stock?

BTW - if someone were really looking to do something for the 3rd world, as is sometimes claimed for RepRap, they'd be smarter to just create methods and designs to use commonly available materials (including recyling trash) to make simple tools and useful products.

E.g. "Melting plastic trash to make new stuff - what's safe, what'll kill you" "Tough, water-proof bricks from plastic trash and mud" "A pretty-good hand-cranked fly-wheel lathe for milling wood and plastic" "safety goggles from a plastic water bottle" "Make a decent solar concentrating mirror from plastic trash, cardboard and shiny chip wrappers" "Solar smelting plastic, aluminum scrap or glass" "Lost wax casting with common clays and plastic trash".


I'm actually letting you know that the Nanoscience students of Dakota County Technical College have a blog and they will post things about their program.


If you are students planning to attend a 2 year degree you may want to visit our blog.

Tom Craver

Here's my preferred approach to making stuff on the moon and Mars, without relying on any futuristic technologies.

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