Wed, 17 September 2008
Doctor Adrian Bowyer (inventor of the RepRap machine) is our featured guest.
The RepRap machine is the first machine in all of human history that can make most of its own parts. Not all of them (at least not yet) but most. This means that with a good bit of human assistance and intervention it can do two things that for six hundred million years only biologically living things could do: Reproduce and Evolve.
What's more, the material the machine needs to make more of itself can be grown in your garden. And Doctor Bowyer (who is an engineer and mathematician at the University of Bath in England) has made the design of the machine freely available to anyone who would like to build one by declaring it Open Source.
All this would be meaningless of course if the machine could only make more copies of itself but it has already made shoes, coat hooks, door handles, gears, plastic jewelry, cups, flasks, and a shot glass for toasting its own creation.
A few months ago on May 29, 2008 its first offspring, its first 'child machine,' was assembled and was immediately used to make one of the components needed to make a grandchild machine. Which means that its reproduction and evolution has already begun.
Hosted by Stephen Euin Cobb, this is the September 17, 2008 episode of The Future And You. [Running time: 83 minutes]
Where this will all lead is still uncertain. If the good doctor has his way, in a few years millions of them will exist in homes all around the world, happily churning out useful and decorative household items at ridiculously low cost.
From New York City to Bangladesh, no place would be left out. If enthusiasm remains strong, they might quickly spread everywhere. Because if your friend or neighbor or relative has one and you don't, you can ask them to have theirs make one for you too.