Nanotechnology: Everything from Nothing
In chapter 4, Kaku introduces readers to nanotechnology, the manipulation of matter on an atomic scale. Using nanotechnology would enable the government and companies to manipulate individual atoms, which could spur a second industrials revolution. Molecular manufacturing creates new materials that we can only dream about today. These materials will be super strong, super light, and they will possess amazing electrical and magnetic properties.
Kaku continues the chapter by explaining that in the near future, we can expect a new variety of nanodevices that may revolutionize modern medicine. He begins with the idea that scientists will obtain the ability to utilize nanomachines in human bodies. Kaku explains that part of this technology is already available today in the form of a smart pill, which is a tiny instrument the size of a pill that a human swallows. Scientists track the smart pill electronically and they instruct it to ...view middle of the document...
Carbon is one of several candidates that may eventually succeed silicon as the basis of computer technology. Because of this, nanotechnology will make carbon based computers a possibility. Kaku explains that by 2020, many scientists believe that Moore’s Law (the observation that over the history of computing hardware, the numbers of transistors on a chip will double every two years) will begin to falter and perhaps even collapse. The world economy will then depend on a suitable replacement for silicon transistors to power computers. The solution to this problem may ultimately come from nanotechnology. Kaku also introduces atomic transistors as a replacement for silicon chips. They already exist but are not commercially viable until companies wire them up correctly and mass-produce them.
Kaku introduces the idea that a form of shape shifting may be possible by the midcentury (years 2030-2070). Shape shifting will give us programmable matter, which would allow scientists to change the shape, color, or physical form of an object with a push of a button.
Kaku introduces the idea of a replicator for the far future (years 2070-2100). Advocates of nanotechnology envision an extremely powerful machine, a molecular assembler, or replicator. The machine would be capable of creating just about anything. The machine would be about the size of a washing machine and it would work by using raw materials. Scientists would place the raw materials into the machine and push a button. Trillions of nanobots would converge upon the raw materials, each one programmed to take the molecules apart and reassemble them into an entirely new product. Several potential issues will arise in trying to achieve the replicator. One of the largest issues would be the sheer number of atoms needed in order to copy an object.
Finally, Kaku explores how replicators would influence society. The replicator could very well alter the foundation of society. We base social systems on scarcity and the distribution of wealth. If we allow all individuals in a society to push a button and get exactly what they want, some individuals would continue to work and others would not. It would eliminate the motivation for many. How would that come back to affect society?