# replicator technology

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is there anything that we know of today in the laws of nature which would rule out one day inventing star trek replicator technology, assuming the technical hurdles could be overcome? basically on the show these devices reassemble local atoms of any kind into say a piece of chicken, water, or clothing, to name just a few examples. it involves basically rearranging somehow protons neutrons and electrons of various local substances into the atoms and molecules in the thing u are trying to replicate.

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aside from the fact it would take the power of a small Nuke to do it (think E=MC^2 in reverse).

then you have to CONTROL that power....

not much really

I think Ide sooner got to 10 Forward and order blood wine or Romulan Ale

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at least we can breathe knowing its possible tho. lol

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The replicators are supposed to draw energy from the plasma conduit network, which is fed by the warp core (so essentially as much energy as you could possibly want). They convert this energy into matter using the [insert technobabble] process, organised according to a template from the computer.

As far as I am aware, this is pretty much possible in principle, but I think Star Trek is somewhat optimistic that the technology will not just be available in 300 years, but so reliable and refined as to be used on a whim.

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• 1 month later...

I was pleased to find a thread about this subject, also glad I could make this my first post on SFN. Replicators are actually a spin-off of teleportation technology, and theirs much to read on wiki about that. My personal theory regarding replicators is a future cause for global economic collapse. If I can turn fundamental matter into anything, does this not negate currency and wealth? I suppose it’s the old alchemists dream of making pure gold, but in reality that’s exactly what a replicator could do; or diamonds, platinum, why not a barrel or two of oil? Mankind would literally have nothing to trade for labour, rendering our value system, well… worthless. IMO, that’s probably THE cure for our messed up world, only second to a massive “level the playing-field” meteor scenario.

Here’s a great article about photon teleportation in the lab; I give them credit for making it that far:

http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn2419

Also, the tremendous data storage, speeds and power required for quantum calculation is definitely years beyond our current technology that we know of. I suppose the upcoming CERN experiments with LHC and mapping particle collisions will develop a multitude of techniques. However, the day when it’s as convenient as Star Trek is far away.

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I think conservation of energy pretty much keeps the replicator an item of science fiction really. As I think at best only a few minor exceptions to the law of conservation have been observed or even postulated really. It might be possible to get more and more efficient production, which would be great, but I don’t think you are going to be able to really say do much more then that.

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How does conservation of energy make replicators impossible?

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How does conservation of energy make replicators impossible?

Because, if it takes X amount of energy to say have something, what process can you use to remove this. I mean I don’t understand the difference between the concept of a replicator compared to say some device that will make it effortless to walk up a set of stairs, the work is still required in some form.

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Because, if it takes X amount of energy to say have something, what process can you use to remove this. I mean I don’t understand the difference between the concept of a replicator compared to say some device that will make it effortless to walk up a set of stairs, the work is still required in some form.

A replicator does not make something out of nothing. It takes energy (from the warp core or whatever) and converts that energy into whatever matter we ask it too. No conservation law is broken.

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I think they violate the heisenberg uncertainty principle and are thus impossible.

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aside from the fact it would take the power of a small Nuke to do it (think E=MC^2 in reverse).

then you have to CONTROL that power....

not much really

I think Ide sooner got to 10 Forward and order blood wine or Romulan Ale

true. Except turn the words 'small nuke' to super mega nuke.

Sure it's possible within the laws of physics. All the atoms of the universe are products of energy released in the big Bang. The universe is the ultimate recycler of subatomic particles.

as YT2095 points out, the challenge is to control the energy. Leave behind Star Trek baby-babble and move into a more adult world of science. Harnass some supernova explosions, map out neutrons and electrons, fused atoms, etc. and before you know it....a double latte with cream on top. Just don't be within a few light years of the manufacturing process.

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personally i think somehow entropy might be a factor. it's one thing to take a glass sundae tray and bust into a million pieces right down to the smallest building blocks possible but another thing to get it all nice and organized again back in the right order to make like ice cream or something. the disorder of the universe always increases, time marches on, putting the disorder back into order doesn't seem to me possible. once you have broken the glass it is broken. all you can do is melt it all down and make another one.

maybe somebody could find a way... but i can't imagine how you could manipulate tiny pieces of atoms. maybe some complex machine that warps space-time in precisely the right way to persuade all the parts to "fall" in the right place. but that would also require alot of power, some technique i can't fathom, and a knowledge of the exact location of every part and their momentum, and that, like bluenoise said, violates the uncertainty principle. and i think this would be the problem with transporters as well.

perhaps if the machine was slower and worked more simply like making all the raw elements first and then the right chemical reactions and then the right tools would need to be in there, like mixers and stuff like that. and in that case it would be pretty slow.. unless perhaps the whole thing spun at an incredible rate so as to dilate time for it.. i don't know sounds impractical but i guess not completely impossible. (except for the appearing out of thin air part)

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personally i think somehow entropy might be a factor. it's one thing to take a glass sundae tray and bust into a million pieces right down to the smallest building blocks possible but another thing to get it all nice and organized again back in the right order to make like ice cream or something. the disorder of the universe always increases, time marches on, putting the disorder back into order doesn't seem to me possible. once you have broken the glass it is broken. all you can do is melt it all down and make another one.

In general this is possible; you just have to do a certain amount of work and have the entropy somewhere else increase even more.

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I think they violate the heisenberg uncertainty principle and are thus impossible.

If the Star Trek writers can get away with "Heisenberg Compensators" for the entire run of the series, then we can get away with them too in this discussion

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I think this whole discussion is off course. Replicator might be a star trek term I don't know but 'transporter' is a treky word. You don't have to start with something macroscopic here. As I see it the problem is to take a fermion and convert it into a boson, transport it at the speed of light and then have it convert back into what it was at its destination. An electron is a femion so it doesn't take much energy. As I see it if you could do that you could easily do 'replicator' things. When an electron and positron come together you get gamma rays. More than that I don't know where to go with it or if there is anywhere to go. Just a thought. Its likely that nature has built in obstacles to disallow it unless you do have some kind of fusion reactor you can tap into for energy.

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Alchemist to Modern Chemistry and now to Nanotech Chemist/Scientist have all worked on changing something to something else, with a great deal of success in alloy's, fabrics and other items.

One thought in Nanotech reverses the idea, or taking anything making it into a particular item. Fuel for distant space flight from whatever materials found along the way, for instance.

In my mind, I can see many years from now where production of a food from inorganic material to nourishing food, much like vitamins are today. We also can make many things from one food source to taste or look like another. Artificial crab meat, from white fish and stuffed crabs a couple of my favorites and about 1/10th the cost of the real item.

Just a couple thoughts to maybe adjust the replicator idea to a practical level of potential....

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Alchemist to Modern Chemistry and now to Nanotech Chemist/Scientist have all worked on changing something to something else, with a great deal of success in alloy's, fabrics and other items.

One thought in Nanotech reverses the idea, or taking anything making it into a particular item. Fuel for distant space flight from whatever materials found along the way, for instance.

In my mind, I can see many years from now where production of a food from inorganic material to nourishing food, much like vitamins are today. We also can make many things from one food source to taste or look like another. Artificial crab meat, from white fish and stuffed crabs a couple of my favorites and about 1/10th the cost of the real item.

Just a couple thoughts to maybe adjust the replicator idea to a practical level of potential....

That is the practical level. The practical level takes into account the fundamental concept of E=mc2. One can use an atom of gold or lead and use that same atom in another configuration. That's magnitudes easier than building a gold or lead atom. One can take the atoms of lead in galena ore and make a lead pipe. It would take more energy than is available to man to make the atoms of lead in sufficient numbers to make the same pipe.

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... My personal theory regarding replicators is a future cause for global economic collapse. If I can turn fundamental matter into anything, does this not negate currency and wealth? I suppose it’s the old alchemists dream of making pure gold, but in reality that’s exactly what a replicator could do; or diamonds, platinum, why not a barrel or two of oil? Mankind would literally have nothing to trade for labour, rendering our value system, well… worthless. IMO, that’s probably THE cure for our messed up world, only second to a massive “level the playing-field” meteor scenario. ...
Good stuff, and I don't think StarTrek has currency. I prefer STVoyager which seems a little, not much, less pompous but people do still complain about the coffee etc.

The technology bit is always secondary to the Utopian framework - the main problems, apart from replicator food, is that the captain soon gets to understand what the aliens are trying to say even if they do happen to speak Amglish, and why everyone is so dutiful

There has been a lot of dross but I have been waiting for an especially good time paradox 2 part Voyager story (there have been plenty) and can't remember what it was called

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true. Except turn the words 'small nuke' to super mega nuke.

Sure it's possible within the laws of physics. All the atoms of the universe are products of energy released in the big Bang. The universe is the ultimate recycler of subatomic particles.

as YT2095 points out, the challenge is to control the energy. Leave behind Star Trek baby-babble and move into a more adult world of science. Harnass some supernova explosions, map out neutrons and electrons, fused atoms, etc. and before you know it....a double latte with cream on top. Just don't be within a few light years of the manufacturing process.

First off...big bang believer? how dare you? We speak of energy in this thread, such as the massive amounts required. how much energy do u think it would take to force the universe to break down implode an then explode again? It would be a retardedly stupid amount of energy that would turn all bonds into energy. therefore we would have no matter in this universe.

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