Archive for amp

Programmable Matter

Posted in Alternative Energy, Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2012 by javedbabar

Everything was possible with the 3D printer. AMP co.’s prototype had so far produced another printer, a worm, a baby girl, and a 4D crab, and a variety of holy objects including Moses’s Tablets of Law, Buddha’s begging bowl, Siva’s drum and Thor’s hammer, though they couldn’t be sure if these holy objects could be equated with the original items. At best they were period copies, and at worst, accurate reproductions.

They were thinking of how to fabricate the original mythic elements of Creation – often expressed as water and clay – and ultimately, the dot of pure potential from which the universe evolved.

Alfred said, “This printer is more versatile than I thought. We have to be careful how we use it. It’s taken fourteen billion years for us to reach this point of creation.” He stopped and thought for a moment in his habitual fashion, staring at the cogs and levers of the large photocopier sized machine. Then he said, “Recreation.”

They both remained silent. They glanced around the workshop in which so much had happened since they’d met by chance and begun working together. The Bible says that God created the world in a week. It had taken them three weeks to reach the point of recreating it.

Alfred said, “I don’t think we should go too far. We shouldn’t test the limits yet. Who knows what might happen.”

Sami nodded. “You said that you wanted to monetize your invention. Why don’t we focus on that? Let’s see how we can apply what we’ve learnt to commercial purposes.”

“That’s the hardest part! How to benefit from your own work?”

“I’ve had a thought,” said Sami. “The problem with stuff – all stuff – is obsolescence. Whatever the item, it still ends up in landfill, or is recycled eventually. The first is totally wasteful, but the second isn’t much better. The amount of energy required to collect, sort, process, redesign, remanufacture, and redistribute is huge. If we could…”

Alfred nodded along enthusiastically and then interrupted. “Use fluid particles to make flexible matter. We have found a way of making anything we want; we just need the right materials and data. But all things are made of the same material – atoms! The only difference is how they are put together. If we can retain the energy inherent in an object, stored in the form of materials, we just need to change the data. We can reprogram the object to become something else! I was wrong before when I said we can’t create gold. We can create anything. That’s what the ancient alchemists were saying.”

Sami was delighted by this chain of thoughts. He developed the idea further, saying that they only needed to fabricate the object once with the 3D printer, but could encode it with multiple possibilities. Then the owner could decide which item he needed, and activate accordingly.

After a month of experiments they had it – a bed that becomes a chair, then a desk, then a table, and then a bed again. It was perfect for students living in studios. Their next model was a backpack that became a sunlounger, then a sailboat, then a paraglider.

“We should probably build a stretcher option into that model,” said Alfred. “We can do many things, but we can’t program the weather or remove human error.”

Fourth Dimension

Posted in Alternative Energy, Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2012 by javedbabar

AMP co.’s experiments were progressing. Alfred’s innovative 3D printer had so far fabricated another 3D printer, a worm, and a baby. With the right data and ingredients – chemical or organic – it could produce almost anything. The process was now proven.

“What do we do now?” said Sami, his regular helper. “Shall we start making and selling stuff?”

Alfred said, “People are bored of buying stuff here, my friend, but I would like to monetize my invention. We must do something original. You know that so many inventors have gone mad or gone broke, leaving others to benefit from their work. Another thing to watch for is corporations. They try to buy your idea for peanuts, and if that fails they launch their own version, differing in a few details, and if you complain they launch a battery of expensive lawyers at you, and sometimes send crooked cops and heavies.”

Sami didn’t like the sound of any of that. “What should we do then? Should we sell basic versions of the printer for people to use at home? They could make spare parts for domestic items, and maybe copy precious objects; they could replicate seeds, and make their own medicines and cosmetics.”

“They could certainly do that,” said Alfred.

“You could keep the full-scale printer here, and charge a premium for complex jobs. That way you could also safeguard the technology.”

Alfred stared hard at the printer’s levers and cogs, as he often did when mulling over an issue. He said, “Sami, I’m enjoying working with you. You are an asset to AMP co. How would you like to work full time here, helping me with development of the 3D printer?”

It was an unexpected offer. Sami’s day job – if you could call it that, for it sometimes involved working all night – was assistant to retired holy man Guru Baba. He’d learned so much from him; he was like the grandfather he’d never known. He didn’t want to abandon him. Sami said, “Can I continue to help you casually? That’s what works for me right now.”

Alfred was surprised at the rejection of his offer. Rather than dwell upon it, he said, “Okay, let’s get moving then. Something has been niggling me for a while. Production takes time, too much time in my opinion. I want to integrate time into the process.”

“You mean accelerate production? We could fabricate more machines, and break down jobs into parts.”

“I’m not sure that would work. Each job is processed as a whole. Anyway, I meant something else. I meant using time as a fourth dimension.”

“You want to make a 4D printer? Is that possible?”

“I’m not sure, but I have an idea. We could integrate the start time and end time of production into the process – so the object exists in both times at once – and then compress them into a singularity. I’m not sure if that would make the object unfinite or infinite though.”

They adjusted the 3D printer’s settings, fed in crustacean data and plenty of calcium and chitin – and produced a pink crab. It moved and stopped, moved and stopped, moved and stopped. It was hard to say if this was the crab’s erratic motion, or continual flux between life and death. This was the secret hidden by its shell.

Whether or not the experiment was successful, it amused the baby they’d fabricated the day before. She kept waving her arms and legs about, clamping her fingers together, and laughing.

Good People

Posted in Alternative Energy, Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2012 by javedbabar

Sami was spending all his free time at Lucerne’s new store, Additive Manufacturing Processes, known as AMP co. It wasn’t open for business yet, as the owner, Alfred, was testing his new equipment – an innovative 3D printer that could fabricate almost anything, given the right data and materials.

It was an amusing contrast to the previous business there, the General Store, filled with everything you could think of. The owner had sold it after 72 years of living and working there, which had cost him the chance of having a wife and family.

“I’ve often been tempted to create something living,” said Alfred. “But till now I have stopped myself. There could be a tricky situation…”

“We created a worm yesterday. That was successful.” Sami recalled stepping on the poor thing accidentally. “Well, sort of…”

Alfred stared hard at the 3D printer. He seemed to look at particular cogs and levers sequentially. After a while he said, “That’s the problem, my friend. We’ve crossed the Rubicon. We’ve gone beyond the Pale.” Sami must have looked at him strangely.

“Excuse me; I am a keen student of history. The Rubicon was the river crossed by Caesar with the Roman army, after which he became dictator of Rome. The Pale was the part of Ireland controlled by the British, beyond which was wild, lawless terrain. Making the worm was easy. It was a shame you killed it, but I don’t think we were really affected by its death. If we created a human being though, that would be a different matter.”

Sami had been following Alfred’s gaze as he was speaking, but now his head turned towards Alfred, almost snapping into place. He had imagined making a mouse or cat, even a dog, but Alfred was talking about creating a human. “Are you seriously considering that?”

“Well, yes. I have been for some time. The machine is life-blind. It does not differentiate between animate and inanimate matter. As long as we prepare it correctly, it will produce what we desire.”

“Why don’t we make gold then?” said Sami. “Or cash?”

“The problem is that gold can only be made from gold. We won’t be creating anything, just putting it through the machine. And cash – we could easily make coins, but notes have serial numbers, so we would either be forging them or creating new ones, which is also illegal.”

“But isn’t creating life illegal? You can’t just do it because you feel like it.”

“Of course you can. What do you think is the cause of the world’s population crisis? The people who can’t afford to feed, clothe and educate their kids are having the most. Only China has shown real leadership in this area. Anyway that is a different matter. This is science. Let’s make a person. Are you in on the experiment or not?”

Sami first said no, and then yes; his curiosity was too great.

The machine was too small to make an adult – at least in one piece – so they decided to make a baby. They fed in anatomical, psychological and religious data – hopefully covering the early needs of its mind, body and spirit. They wanted to make good people, not bad ones.

They set the chronometer to 1 month:1day.

After nine days they heard crying in the 3D printer. The owner of the General Store would have been pleased.

Pet Project

Posted in Alternative Energy, Classic Sci-Fi, Organic Farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 11, 2012 by javedbabar

Sami wasn’t sure if he was ready to create life – or at least not human life. Maybe he could start with something smaller, like a pet, or even smaller than that.

Having a 3D printer to play with was fun but was also daunting. Was it really true, that with the right materials he could create anything? Meeting Alfred was a stroke of luck. The young entrepreneur had invited Sami into the experimental shop where he was testing his new integrated technology.

“So what did you decide?” said Alfred. “Still interested in using organic materials?”

“Well yes, but nothing ambitious. We could start with amoeba or bacteria.”

“I’m not sure that would work,” said Alfred. “They are simple organisms that are easy to make in theory, but they are fragile. I don’t think they would survive the process. Also, it would be better to make something more tangible; it’s easier than making things we can’t see. We could try making an insect.”

“What about a worm?” said Sami. “I’ve always liked them, and they’re resilient. I hope worms have forgiven me for the experiments I performed on them as a child, cutting them into two, three, four or more pieces, and seeing which parts survived. We could make a worm. Bring one to life. That would improve my karma!”

“Okay, let’s make a worm.” Alfred tapped away at his computer, and printouts appeared on a small desktop printer.

Sami said, “Why don’t you use the 3D printer?”

Alfred looked sheepish. “It’s not very good with paper.” He gave Sami the printouts, which showed worm dissections along various axes.

“What about its biological systems? Will they work properly?”

“Yes, if there is enough detail. I’m going to set up the 3D printer. Can you find some more information on worms? Photos, videos, textbook pages, anything else you find interesting, and we’ll feed it into the printer, and use the integration tool. It combines all of the data to create a holistic model for production.”

Sami collated details of worms’ long, legless, tube-like bodies, their range of sizes from microscopic to over fifty metre long marine worms, their variety of parasitic niches or living freely on land, in marine or freshwater environments, their hermaphroditism and asexual reproduction, their ability to sense light, their muscular hydrostatic structure, the transmission of parasitic worms by mosquitos, their need for food, moisture, oxygen and favorable temperatures, their hatching from cocoons, their ability to replace or replicate lost segments, their valuable role in food chains, and their sticky slime that holds soil particles together.

Alfred reviewed the information before processing. “They are small but quite complex,” he said. “It will take two days to produce the worm.”

After 48 hours they examined the machine. There was nothing there.

“Damn!” said Alfred. “I don’t know what happened. Everything seemed to be working fine. All the key indicators were…”

“Uh-oh,” said Sami as he squashed something on the floor.

Another Printer

Posted in Alternative Energy, Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2012 by javedbabar

Sami was thrilled by the 3D printer. Who would have imagined that a new store in Lucerne – till so recently the General Store, and now AMP co. – could contain such a wonder. When Alfred Choo had asked him what they should create using the prototype, Sami had said, “Another printer.”

Alfred stopped to consider this and said, “Neat idea, I was going to build another one from scratch, but we’ve got one already so why not put it to good use? Create a new cycle of life.”

Sami examined the machine, which looked like a large photocopier with extra wires and cogs and levers. He wanted to touch it but didn’t. It could be dangerous. “How does it work?” he asked.

“In the same way that there are inkjets, bubblejets, and mono and colour laser jets for 2D printing, there are also many technologies for 3D printing. I studied them all but found them wanting. I developed a new theory during my engineering project at university but kept it quiet. If I’d have told them they would have claimed ownership. So I dropped out of college and developed the technology myself.”

There’s more to this guy than meets the eye, thought Sami, and he wants to keep things quiet. Maybe I should stop asking questions.

Alfred however seemed comfortable with Sami being there. He continued, “I looked at Selective Laser Sintering – using carbon dioxide lasers to fuse powders in layers, slowly building up objects. Also Fused Deposition Modelling, where you unwind a filament or wire from a coil, extrude it through a nozzle, heat the material to set it. And Stereolithography – focusing a concentrated beam of UV light into a vat of liquid polymer, and cross-linking layers to create a solid.

Fancy stuff, thought Sami. Very complicated indeed.

“I also tried DMLS, LOM, EBM, plaster based printing, and Holographic Reproduction, but they all held complications and limitations. So I integrated all these methods into a new one that can fabricate objects from almost any material, including plastic, metal, ceramic, glass and wood powders.”

“Can you really make anything with it?” asked Sami.

“Yes, with the right materials.”

Sami was nervous, but decided to ask anyway. “What if you added organic matter? Things like calcium for bones and iron for blood?”

Alfred was quiet for a moment, and then turned to face the 3D printer. “Let’s do what you suggested earlier – make another printer. It should be easy. I’ve got the materials and plans here already. I just need to feed in the data.”

“How long will it take to make?” asked Sami.

“About twenty-four hours. Why don’t you come back here at this time tomorrow?”

That night Sami dreamt of the Beginning. The earth was without form and void; God separated the land from the waters and created every living thing. The next day Sami couldn’t focus at work. All he thought of was creation. He went to AMP co. that night.

“Here’s the second printer,” said Alfred. “It’s yours to try out. What would you like to make with it?”

Additive Manufacturing Processes

Posted in Alternative Energy, Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2012 by javedbabar

It was sad to see the General Store closing down. It had been here from the very beginning, supplying essential goods to settlers, making their lives and the development of the Lucerne Valley possible.

Everything changes in time. The owner was surprisingly stoic. Though he hadn’t been present for the store’s full 108 years of trading, he had been born there, and lived and worked there for the 72 years since then. The reason why he’d never married and had children was because he was stuck there.

He said to Sami, “I am bored selling stuff here, and people are bored buying stuff here. Either we replace me, or we replace the people. That’s the situation. It’s a lot easier to replace me, so I’ve sold the place to a young guy from the city. He seems like a smart kid. Maybe he’ll know what to do with it.”

Sami had only been in town for a year, serving as the retired holy man Guru Baba’s assistant, but he’d developed a deep attachment to Lucerne. He was sorry to see the demise of this institution. Hopefully the new owner would see the value of heritage; he could continue the business, and even expand it, if he had good marketing and business plans.

When the shop’s renovation began, Sami’s hopes were dashed. It was a wholesale remodeling. The old – admittedly pokey, leaky, rotting and rusted – features of the store were removed or replaced to create a plain aesthetic. It seemed more a workshop than a store.

Finally a new sign went up, saying “AMP co.” The AMP was in a robot font formed of cut out grey metal letters. The co. was in black italics, also metal cut-outs. The whole sign was backlit golden.

An electrical store, here? thought Sami. If there wasn’t enough business for the general store, who would open an electrical store? The previous owner had said that people were bored with buying stuff here; even his modest “Technology” department hadn’t survived. People went to big box stores in malls or bought online. Who did the new owner expect to be his customers?

The new owner was a Chinese guy. Sami waved when he saw him one day, and he was beckoned in. “Hi, I’m Alfred Choo, proprietor of this fine establishment.” He explained that yes, people were bored with buying stuff here, but he believed that they would be keen on making stuff here.

“Making stuff like what?” said Sami.

“That’s what the mayor asked when I told him my plans, but then he saw my point. I’ve received a grant from the Authority, credit from my bank, and a tax break from the village. I have purchased all the components required and built the first prototype. Would you like to see it?”

He took Sami into the back room. There was a machine like a large photocopier with additional wires, cogs and levers.

“Here it is, a 3D printer. The nature of commerce is about to change. People will no longer buy things. They will be able to make them themselves just as easily and cheaply. Anything they want. I’m testing it right now. What shall we make?”

Sami’s mouth hung open. He said the first thing that came to mind, “Another printer.”