2003/01/18
 
11:05

Grow Your Own Toys

I was reading New Scientist magazine yesterday when I came across a reference to what seemed to be a saying: "Never trust a man with a beard". As one of the bewhiskered, I figured I'd look into this a bit more deeply, in case there is some kind of conspiracy against those of us who dare to advertise our mammalian roots.

I checked Google, but it only returned 23 hits. Well, that's a relief!

Speaking of things that grow out of nothing, that issue of New Scientist contained an article about a new technology named "Flexonics". This is the next step towards Star Trek style "replicators". Fortunately, they have the article online. It explains how electronic devices can be "printed" in their entirety (i.e. everything but the battery), so you could push a button and have a transistor radio magically appear. Press another button and you get a TV remote control.

I first encountered this concept in one of the less-well-known Disney movies "Babes in Toyland". If I recall correctly, there was a mad genius who had invented a device that would create new toys out of thin air.

I think I saw the movie when I was four years old and I was impressed by the idea. I had a limited grasp of science back then, but I was fairly sure it wasn't technically feasible. However, it's apparently possible now. Disney was a visionary, but who knew he was a prophet?

I expect the prototype machine costs a few million dollars, so I suppose I can't afford one this week. But I still want a toy-making machine just as much as I did when I was four years old.

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