Nano-Toymaking

CHRISTMAS PHYSICS – Nano-ToymakingCelebrating three decades of Pulse of the Planet, here’s a program from our archives.Music: Joy to the WorldThis week, in honor of the holiday season, we asked a rocket scientist what kind of technology might make Santa’s Christmas eve deliveries possible. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.From a physics perspective, one of the biggest problems Santa faces is his payload: how could he possibly carry enough presents in his sleigh to grant the wishes of the world’s 191 million children. Well, Larry Silverberg is the director of the Mars Mission Research Center at North Carolina State University and he thinks he has the answer. Perhaps, he says, Santa could grow the presents on-site with a nano-toymaker, a kind of portable automated factory which assembles toys at a molecular level.”Our hypothesis is that the presents are grown on the spot, under the tree, wrapping and all, using a nano-toymaker.”The technology for a nano-toymaker isn’t as science-fiction as it may sound. The device can be modeled after natural processes which are taking place all around us.”In things like snow, minerals, rocks, you have a crystallization, a manner in which objects are grown. That process can be engineered in fact.”In other words, the nano-toy maker would deliver a set of instructions, a pattern, which would tell an assemblage of materials under a Christmas tree to transform themselves into a present. Because not even Santa Claus, can make something from nothing.”The important thing to remember is that all of the ingredients, the materials– if you have copper in there, if you have plastics– that all has to be in the material that’s sitting there under the tree. But by pointing the remote control at the material, a process starts to unfold where the toy is made.” This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. If you want hear more, check out our podcast.

Nano-Toymaking

200 million presents is a big load for any sleigh.
Air Date:12/22/2020
Scientist:
Transcript:

CHRISTMAS PHYSICS - Nano-ToymakingCelebrating three decades of Pulse of the Planet, here's a program from our archives.Music: Joy to the WorldThis week, in honor of the holiday season, we asked a rocket scientist what kind of technology might make Santa's Christmas eve deliveries possible. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.From a physics perspective, one of the biggest problems Santa faces is his payload: how could he possibly carry enough presents in his sleigh to grant the wishes of the world's 191 million children. Well, Larry Silverberg is the director of the Mars Mission Research Center at North Carolina State University and he thinks he has the answer. Perhaps, he says, Santa could grow the presents on-site with a nano-toymaker, a kind of portable automated factory which assembles toys at a molecular level."Our hypothesis is that the presents are grown on the spot, under the tree, wrapping and all, using a nano-toymaker."The technology for a nano-toymaker isn't as science-fiction as it may sound. The device can be modeled after natural processes which are taking place all around us."In things like snow, minerals, rocks, you have a crystallization, a manner in which objects are grown. That process can be engineered in fact."In other words, the nano-toy maker would deliver a set of instructions, a pattern, which would tell an assemblage of materials under a Christmas tree to transform themselves into a present. Because not even Santa Claus, can make something from nothing."The important thing to remember is that all of the ingredients, the materials-- if you have copper in there, if you have plastics-- that all has to be in the material that's sitting there under the tree. But by pointing the remote control at the material, a process starts to unfold where the toy is made." This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. If you want hear more, check out our podcast.