X-Message-Number: 10600
Date: Fri, 16 Oct 1998 11:44:09 -0700
From: Hara Ra <>
Subject: Fwd: Re: Cryonet Message #10564 - nanoassembly

An interesting post from extropians list:

>Date: Thu, 15 Oct 1998 22:42:53 -0230
>From: Bernard Hughes <>
>X-Mailer: Mozilla 4.05 [en] (Win95; I)
>Subject: Re: Cryonet Message #10564 - nanoassembly
>Hara Ra wrote:
>> [1] Lego Toy Problem
>> Yes. A very good way to attempt this is to use Lego blocks. (Seriously!)
>> Lego is developing a series of toys which can interface with the PC (about
>> $200, available this fall). For the moment these devices will be physically
>> too feeble to pick up the Lego blocks and push them together, and the
>> sensor technology is also very crude. If you did have adequate actuators
>> and sensors (I can see it now, hydraulically driven Lego-Bots!), consider
>> the design of a Lego-Assembler, which given a suitable PC, and a suitable
>> supply of Lego blocks, is capable of assembling a copy of itself.
>> The point of such a 'toy problem' (groan) is to reveal the higher level
>> conceptual difficulties of doing such a thing and to reveal the detailed
>> problems of actually doing it. (like, how do you sense the difference from
>> a Lego block and a sugar cube?)
>> The next Lego problem is to eliminate the major non-Lego components,
>> especially the PC. Most solutions to this problem (in principle!) involve
>> combining a standard set of components, a general purpose assembler, and a
>> data tape whose structure as a media is simple. The data tape is read and
>> the assembler executes the instructions. It builds the duplicate assembler,
>> and then duplicates the tape.
>  Sounds pretty ambitious for a first attempt. It seems to me a macro scale
>assembler would be very useful, even if it used some complex components like
>computer chips. So long as it could assemble copies of itself, and useful
>articles like chairs, tables or houses from durable components it could be
>useful. And it would be really useful if it could dissasemble the components
>and build new products from them. For those of us who live in variable
>climates, a house that was small and snug in the winter, and large and
airy in
>the summer would be worth having.
> Perhaps you don't need to worry too much about sugar cubes if you don't
>actually use Lego blocks. Make your building components distinct enough from
>casual matter to be easy to identify. Bar codes spring to mind. So long as
>work in a contained space, you only need to check at the entrance and exit to
>the workspace.
> I've been thinking about this problem for a while, but it seems too complex
>for one person to tackle.
> Bernard
| Hara Ra <> | 
| Box 8334 Santa Cruz, CA 95061  |
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