Did you ever wish that the Star Trek transporter was a real?

You know what I am referring to, right? Captain Kirk, Spock and some unfortunate crew member in a red shirt would stand on the transporter pad and shout at Scotty to “energize”. Scotty would twiddle some knops and pull some sliders down to the accompaniment of some shimmering sound effects and Kirk and Company would fade out and, wow, fade back in on the planet with three headed bug eyed monsters. Red shirt crewman would quickly die.

Anyway the promise of being transported great distances in an instant has always been something I would like to see become a reality. First of all I hate to fly and it would take care of that little problem. And long tedious car rides? Just hop in the transporter and you are already there.

Of course then you start thinking about the movie The Fly. Jeff Goldblaum with fly parts sticking out of him because a fly got in the transporter with him. With my luck I would end up combining DNA with a spider.

While we are on the subject how about that cool replicator on the Enterprise?  Captain Picard strolls over to a hole in the wall, barks out “Tea Earl Grey, Hot” and the thing shoves a china cup full at him.

You could order anything.

“Girl, Tall, Hot”.

Well maybe not.

But here’s the good news. Some MIT genius has figured out a way to do almost that

This guy Neil Gershenfield has written a book about it called “Fab-the coming revolution on your desktop-from personal computers to personal fabrication”.

What this egghead scientist envisions is a machine that lets you download a design, say for a wiffle ball, push a button and the machine – more or less like an ink jet printer –  makes you a wiffle ball. Your Pay Pal account is charged for the design and every once in a while you stroll over to Office Max for a new fabricator cartridge which likely costs three times more than the fabricator.

How far along is he? Well he has a machine that costs $20,000 smackers and is about the size of my first apartment. It can, with a great deal of effort make parts for small items that you then have to assemble.

But 30 years ago the computer I am using on my desk used to cost $25,000 and fit comfortably in a washing machine sized space.

So if we live so long, we can order our computer, which in 2020 or so will probably be the size of a key chain, to make “Tea Earl Grey hot”.

Maybe it will screw up and make “Girl, Tall, Hot.”

Of course by then I will be more interested in the tea.

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About James Rising

A recovering radio addict wrestles with the written word.
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