They will not be biological in their design they will

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they will not be living systems. They will not be biological in their design. They will be very artificial. They will be very brittle. Like machines built by human beings they will function correctly if we provide them with a very specific environment. But if that environment is changed they won't function at all. UBIQUITY: Any predictions about the future? MERKLE: From a fundamental point of view we don't attempt to predict what will happen. What we can do is describe what is possible within the laws of known physics. Physics is well understood. Within that framework of well understood physical law we can describe some of the capabilities that we could develop, some of the things we could do, and we can describe systems that would be feasible. Quite likely by the time we actually develop such a system, there will be alternative designs that will be better. UBIQUITY: Give us an example of a product that would be improved using molecular manufacturing? MERKLE: The answer that comes most readily to mind is diamonds. Diamond has a better strength-to-weight ratio than steel or aluminum. Its strength-to-weight ratio is more than 50 times that of steel or aluminum alloy. So, it's much stronger and much lighter. If we had a shatterproof variant of diamond, we would have a remarkably light and strong material from which to make all of the products in the world around us. In particular, aerospace products -- airplanes or rockets -- would benefit immensely from having lighter, stronger materials. So one of the things that we can say with confidence is that we will have much lighter, much stronger materials, and this will reduce the cost of air flight, and it will reduce the cost of rockets. It will let us go into space for literally orders of magnitude lower cost. UBIQUITY: Has NASA shown any interest in this? MERKLE: Needless to say, they are pursuing research in nanotechnology with the idea of having lighter, stronger materials as one of the significant objectives. There is a whole range of other capabilities, of course, that would be of interest in NASA. For example, lighter computers and lighter sensors would let you have more function in a given weight, which is very important if you are launching things into space, and you have to pay by the pound to put things there. UBIQUITY: Are there any other areas that would be significantly affected by nanotechnology? MERKLE: The other area is in advanced computer technology. The computer hardware revolution has been continuing with remarkable steadiness over the last few decades. If you extrapolate into the future you find that, in the coming decades, we'll have to build molecular computers to keep the computer hardware revolution on track. Nanotechnology will let us do that, and it will let us build computers that are incredibly powerful. We'll have more power in the volume of a sugar cube than exists in the entire
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world today.
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