Institute of Atomic-Scale Engineering


Shape-Shifter
 By Forrest Bishop

 Shape Shifting Digital Matter Digital Matter

 Imagine an object that can change its shape, color, and texture to mimic many types of things. If you had a bread-box size piece of this material, it might take the place of most of your electronic and household appliances by simply turning into the machine you wish to use at the time. Perhaps you would have it walk the dog, clean the house, and fix dinner in its free time. When you're on the go, it, or maybe just a piece of it, could come along as your bodyguard/cellular phone/fax/computer/navigator/environmental monitor/caddie, and whatever else a person can imagine.

 If the "atoms" of this material were small enough, tendrils of it might be used by doctors to perform microsurgery and other very delicate operations, such as removing plaque from an artery wall.

 A science spacecraft made of it could be extremely minute. The various instruments are carried as software and conjured up only when needed.

 Such a thing may come to pass in the not distant future. A less capable version of this stuff can almost be made using current technologies.

 The following article, "The Construction..of..Active Mesostructures", along with its hypertext links, explains these ideas in more depth, and looks at ways to make them reality.

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