FROM STAR TREK TO AFGHANISTAN


Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: The Next Generation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Two weeks ago, I watched an episode of CSI:NY which was reminiscent of Star Trek:TNG.

A man created a gun using a printer, or in Star Trek terms, a replicator.

And it worked, killing two people before it lost cohesion and fell apart.

afghanistan
afghanistan (Photo credit: The U.S. Army)

Last week, I read an article about the same type of printer being used by our armed forces over in Afghanistan.

In Star Trek, replicators create, well, everything–food, beverages, clothing, replacement parts and decorations. But leave it to our civilization to find a purely militaristic use for this technology.

The replicators, called Rapid Prototypers, are much like a CAD (computer-assisted design) program, in that a schematic is created then scanned into the printer. The printer, using soft plastic polymers, then literally prints out the 3D image of the necessary item and the solider and technician check it out to make sure it’s what they need. Because it’s a softer plastic, however, the item doesn’t last very long in the field.

Other types of replicators currently in use are CNC Mills (which utilize metals and aluminum), laser cutters and water cutters. Having the ability to rapidly create necessary equipment in the field, instead of waiting for it to be requisitioned and shipped in, saves time, lives and frustration.

Rapid Prototypers can also be used in the medical field to fabricate teaching aids or models of a patients bones or internal organs. This can help a surgeon practice extremely difficult procedures before actually cutting into a person.

I often find it very interesting to see how science fiction tickles the imagination. Scientists are actively working on invisibility cloaks, universal translators, humanoid androids, self-educating A.I.,tractor beams, transporters and warp drive.

What I wouldn’t give for a TARDIS so I could go about 200 years into the future just to see what we’ve been able to

TARDIS Mk VI
TARDIS Mk VI (Photo credit: >Rooners)

accomplish.

Resources:

http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2013/01/10/star-trek-replicators-for-army/?cmpid=NL_SciTech

http://www.ehow.com/list_7312337_uses-rapid-prototyping.html

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