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gray goo

A science fiction nightmare from "Engines of Creation, The Coming Era of Nanotechnology" by K. Eric Drexler, in which nanomachines were named "assemblers." An assembler is created from organic molecules and is designed to replicate itself. However, if something goes amiss, they could replicate until all that is left on the planet, now void of all organic matter, is "gray goo." See nanofactory.



nanofactory

A machine that can make a product atom by atom (molecular nanotechnology). Considered the ultimate manifestation of nanotechnology, the concept is that if parts can be built at the molecular level, the nanofactory can build almost anything, even more versions of itself, which would be its first task. However, it would be advisable not to hold your breath waiting for this (see gray goo).




Not From a Nanofactory - But Here Today
Although 3D printers do not yet build at the molecular level, they are still amazing. This set of rotating gears was created "in place" from bottom to top by a Z Corporation 3D printer that jets color binders onto a powdered, composite material one layer at a time. When completed, the excess powder was blown away. See 3D printer.






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