>> Friday, July 24, 2009
Anonymous asked : Do you ever think there will be a limit to how advanced technology can get with the resources we have? I mean there has to be a limit to how small you can make the components to things and still have them work just as efficient and alot of advancements have to do with efficiency and making useful things easier to use by making them smaller. Do you ever think we will be able to manipulate atoms more efficiently?
You know, if you look at the history of computers, for instance, where we are today was almost imaginably distant from where we started. I can remember, when I was in high school, working with a computer with no hard drive, 64K of RAM where we stored data on a tape cassette. When I got a first computer, it had a monochome monitor (green), an 8" disk drive and a 20 MB drive. I was in heaven.
I have files now that are four times larger than that first disk drive. I have a cell phone that has more computing power (and memory, both RAM and storage) than that first computer. My point is, if you told me back then that I'd be able to get a netbook 20 years later that had 160 GB hard drive and was almost palm sized. It's like magic.
But, when I talk to people in the business, they describe methods to save memory that have a hundred/thousand times more memory in a smaller volume, less mass. My husband, who loves doing research on nanotechnology, gets lots of literature on machines that are desperately small, electron microscope small. Little tiny robots that have room to crawl on the head of a pin. ICs and circuit boards burnt into tiny fragments of semi conductor.
Is there a limit? Probably but I have no idea what it is. Right now, it's manipulating molecules and atoms. Some day, that may not be the limit for us.
I believe one thing, though. I believe we've only scratched the surface of what we might be capable of, of what we'll do and learn. And I suspect, if we look at it 50, 100 years from now, the limits we thought we had will have been long past.