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View Diary: Scientific American Gives Details on the Russian Meteor (277 comments)

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  •  With the right atoms & sufficient power (2+ / 0-)
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    Troubadour, In her own Voice

    you can in theory reproduce & manufacture just about anything short of sentient life. (Which has its own tried & true methods. ;) ) The right atoms are pretty much everywhere you look in the solar system, in planetary atmospheres, asteroids, satellite regolith. The power is there for the taking via solar panels--which don't even have to be especially efficient since there's a lot of room to mount them & a lot of sun to catch.

    With sufficient power you can perform element & even isotope separation using mass spectrometers, which have been around since at least 1901. With sufficient power you can use 3D printers to build up practically any structure you want--right now it's a niche process because it's expensive, but again, sufficient power plus sufficient materials...Microgravity is more of a help than a hindrance in most cases, so you do this in freefall (& where "gravity" is necessary you spin up the facility to generate the necessary acceleration).

    Put all this together with the necessary software & you're within shouting distance of a Santa Claus Machine. I wouldn't disagree with this caveat from Wiki--

    A mature Santa Claus machine requires significant advances in technology to be possible, including the ability to take any collection of matter and reconfigure it into any other type of matter.

    Scientifically, it requires two parts: a disassembler and an assembler. Both are available today in primitive forms, each requiring a decade or so of engineering[citation needed] to achieve the maturity for a real Santa Claus machine.

    --but there seems to be no gigundous theoretical barrier to the design & fabrication. Ten years seems about right for the technology, but sooner would not surprise me at all.

    Once you have machines that can disassemble local material & reassemble it into key devices & replacement parts for key devices (including itself!) you are in business Out There--& heaven help the galaxy...

    BALTIMORE RAVENS--SUPER BOWL XLVII CHAMPIONS! WOOO-HOOO!

    by Uncle Cosmo on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 11:00:44 AM PST

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