pp. 199-142


Essential Themes

In each chapter of Physics of the Future, Michio Kaku introduces many different ideas. As a group, you will select three ideas from the chapter you are responsible for that interest you the most. This could be because some of you have a personal connection to the idea, question the idea, or are intrigued by the idea. Compare and contrast the three ideas. Be sure to include individuals and events that are involved in the ideas.

This should be completed in paragraph form and be roughly 350 words for each idea. Please make headings for each idea and work with your partners to incorporate multimedia (no more than 1 video), graphics (no more than 3) and other items with this. Your explanation should be understandable by an average middle schooler or higher.


Nanotechnology[1] will allow advances in medicine in the near future. Nanomedicine, as it is defined, will help make the medical world more sophisticated. Doctors will soon be able to cure patients much quicker and with less pain. Also, the diseases that many people think aren't curable, may be able to be cured with the robots that help doctors use nanotechnology. This could mean that humans might have a longer life span and are able to stay healthy.
We are going to touch on a few sub-themes about nanomedicine in our nanotechnology chapter.
Eventually, in the future we might have devices that will "revolutionize medicine". There will be machines that go through our bodies in our bloodstream and do things we would never think are even imaginable such as zapping cancer cells and performing check-ups and minor surgeries.
One device that is already realized is the smart pill. This is an instrument the size of a pill that can be swallowed and tracked by another computer or electronic device. They have TV cameras to capture images of our insides that we can then see from the computer that is connected with the pill. Magnets can also guide the pills. This could help the pill locate tumors or polyps that could be harmful to humans.

Smart Pill Source:

Shape Shifting

With nanotechnology, we have potential to shape shift. Shape-shifting is not necessarily changing our shape, but everyday objects. Scientists at Intel are already working on prototypes of computer chips that can change shape inside of your computer to carry out various tasks. Also, there are cube like structures called catoms (short for claytronic atoms), and they can change shape based on an electronic charge applied to it (Dunbar, 2008 "NASA Test Shape-Shifting Robot Pyramid for Nanotech Swarms"). The scientists who have made these are aiming to one day make them the size of a grain of sand, or even smaller. They predict that in as little as forty years, this type of shape shifting will be part of everyday life. There is much work to be done on these claytronic atoms and shape shifting, but one day people will be using this technology daily. (Kaku, 2011)


Shape shifting using nanobots.

Post-Silicon Era

The question that we will face in the next few years is what will replace silicon? We know that Moore's Law will eventually collapse because it cannot last forever. No matter how much or how hard we try to stop Moore's law from collapsing, it will happen. One of the possible replacements for silicon is transistors made of individual atoms. The main reason that we have not started using these molecular transistors is because they must be wired up correctly and mass-produced before selling them. Another option is a substance called graphene. Graphene is the strongest material tested in science. The problem with graphene is like mentioned earlier, they have to be wired up correctly and massed-produced. One other option that might be the best one is to use quantum chips instead of silicon chips. The problem with using quantum chips to make quantum computers is that disturbances from the outside can interfere or destroy the properties of the atom. As you can see, we have many options and choices of what we can use in the future, so we just have to figure out what is the best option for our world.

The Replicator

The replicator is a machine where you insert raw materials and then the machine makes what you want. Trillions upon trillions of nanobots would then concentrate on the materials, each robot programmed to take them apart molecule by molecule then reassemble them into a completely different product. This machine would be able to make literally anything you want. The only problem is that these machines would require over 50 trillion cells and the memory space capable of keeping 10^26 atoms. It needs this much memory because the replicator would need to keep track of all of the atoms and not lose them. The solution to this problem is making just one nanobot. These nanobots can reproduce almost infinitely, and can cut a molecule extremely precisely to where they need to be cut. Also, by following a master code, these robots can reassemble the atoms and molecules into different arrangements. So the real task is just to make the first nanobot that can make 10^26 of these robots that can solve our problem. Of course, the replicator is not expected to be fully operative for at least another century. Even after that, it would take decades for the replicator's price to go down and for it to be open to use commercially. It is still a great invention, nevertheless!


Predicted Impact

Analyze the predicted impact on the economic, social, and political landscape if your three selected trends were to happen as you predict. Work with your team to cast a vision for what this would look like in the world. (Use the discussion tabs and commenting to facilitate discussions or speak to your teachers about direct contact with the other students if that will help.) This will form the basis of your movie creations so use your imagination but base it in fact and research from the book and beyond.


(Shape Shifting)

Shape shifting once only seemed like a fantasy, but now with increasing technology, it is becoming a reality. With nanotechnology becoming more and more advanced daily, we will soon see many changes to our society. Along with the changes to our society, there could be some major changes in our economy. When shape shifting becomes part of our everyday lives, there will no longer be the need to go out and buy a special tool or supply, you have the power to change what you already have at the touch of a button. This could severely harm many businesses because of the fact that once a consumer buys one tool, it is no longer necessary for them to buy another. This could happen in nearly every industry. The costumer would save money, and the manufacturer would go out of business. In the next fifty years, a homeowner could paint a room red, then next month decide they do not like that color anymore. They could simply turn a dial and now the color of the room is yellow. With shape shifting becoming more and more real everyday, we can expect to see some major changes to our economy. As much as I have talked about businesses going broke because of shape shifting, some corporations would flourish. If you are a manufacturer of a type of toy, and a machine that mass produces the toy becomes out dated, you could plug the new blueprints for a new and improved machine into a computer and the machine would disassemble and then reassemble itself into a new and improved version. Shape shifting will certainly change our economy in the near future.


If the replicator is going to actually be a reality in 2100, it could shake our economic foundations. As Michio Kaku stated in Physics of the Future, the replicator would be primarily used in households and in labs everywhere. It is important to remind ourselves that the United States is not the only country seriously investing in nanotechnology. Japan, Britain, and China are also very interested in the idea of nanotechnology, and have invested millions in it. This could severely impact the global trade and trying to find the materials to make the replicator would also make a change to the national and global economy. Also, this could make a rising business, as to make things with the replicator you would need raw materials, which people could sell to you and make a great business for it. In conclusion, the replicator could be a huge advancement for science, but it could also crash our economy, we just have to closely monitor it.


Nanomedicine, especially the smart pill, is an advancement in the medical world that will be used very soon. If nanotechnology was implemented into medicine, then the results would be revolutionary. People would live longer, we could cure and prevent cancer, make people look young forever, and make the common cold no longer exist. What would happen is very small nanobots (smaller than a red blood cell) would be put into your circulatory system and they would be able to kill possible cancer cells and other diseases. One way to get these nanobots into your circulatory system is by taking a pill that houses these microscopic disease annihilators. Whoever would create or manufacture this pill would make millions of dollars, as it has the ability to cure almost any disease. However, many surgeons and doctors specializing in chemotherapy or another medical fields relating to cancer would loose their jobs. This would leave hundreds of doctors jobless. If the smart pill becomes a reality, then it will be very expensive. This will be fine for the very wealthy families, but this means that low-income families will not be able to get medication. The government could also find a way to put a potential tax on a smart pill, so a nation's government could also make money off of the development of smart pills. Currently, people are burdened with having to pay for health insurance. If the smart pill were put into place, regular trips to the doctors office might no longer be necessary. This would mean that not as many people would find health insurance necessary. The only reason that someone would need the insurance is to pay for a major medical procedure. When nanomedicine is at the point where the everyday person can use it, we can expect to see many changes in our economy. The annual doctor trip may no longer exist, and health insurance will be changed forever. Many people will gain jobs at smart pill or nanomedicine manufacturing plants and labs, but at the expense of thousands of doctors jobs. (Kaku, 2011)

(Post-Silicon Era)

The post-silicon era can affect how our society uses materials for energy sources, thus affecting our economy. Right now scientists are experimenting on what will replace silicon in the future because we know that Moore's law will collapse, so we have to find a suitable replacement for it. Right now, jobs by scientists are probably increasing, especially with finding replacements for silicon. There are so many choices of what the replacement of silicon should be that many scientists are furiously working to find the perfect replacement for silicon. Once we find the right replacement, jobs should stay the same or possibly increase due to the fact that people will still need to extract and maintain the use of the replacement of silicon. Kaku said in his novel, "The future of the world economy and the destiny of nations may ultimately hinge on which nation develops a suitable replacement for silicon."(p.218) Kaku is absolutely right because all nations will have to find the right replacement and most to all of the nations will use the replacement too.


(Shape Shifting)

As much good as shape shifting could do for our society, it could be abused. With great power comes great responsibility and that means that many tools or objects that use shape shifting would at first be heavily monitored and very expensive. With a tool that has the power to change its shape at a touch of a button, someone would easily be able to sneak a weapon past security. This means that when nanotechnology starts spreading across the world, there will be laws put in to place to regulate where technology using shape shifting can be used and how much it can be used. This new technology is intended for great purposes, but there will definitely need to be guidelines for how it is used.


The replicator has many impacts in the political world, and many aspects of the government could be changed. For example, the government would have to limit the power of the replicator, and perhaps you would need a license for it. Also, maybe monitoring what is made in the replicators would have to be put into place so that you could not make dangerous material in your house. There may also be an age requirement needed so you can own the replicator in your house, as there is age restrictions for drinking, smoking, and driving. Different governments would have differing policies for the replicator, and this could cause global tensions between countries. For example, say that Japan is making mass amounts of replicators in their country. We may think this as a mini Cold War. So we may mass produce these machines, and other countries would do so as well, and global tension would be a reality and countries would be competing for who has the most replicators or the most advanced nanotechnology. Replicators would definitely affect our relations with foreign countries.


Nanomedicine would change the political playing field dramatically. Recently, "Obamacare" or the Affordable Care Act has caused turmoil in the united states. Americans are being forced to have government healthcare, and its not very affordable at all. At first nanomedicine will be unbelievably expensive. Nanomedicine is so new that it is hard to imagine, but one day it will be mainstream. Once nanomedicine is available to the public the price will begin to slowly drop after the hype dies down. Nanomedicine will be all the rage in the first few years ,this will drive up the price and normal everyday people will not be able to afford it. In the years after nanomedicine is released average people will begin to receive it. Once this major step occurs the political field will begin to change fiercely. The Affordable Care Act will go down the drain and the government will begin to regulate nanomedicine. Nanomedicine is the greatest medical break through ever. Nanomedicine gives us the ability to eliminate diseases from cancer to the common cold. It also increases life expectancy tremendously. Nanotechnology changes everything from medicine to weapons. It is changing the way we look at the world today. Nanotechnology will change your life someday.

(Post-Silicon Era)

The post-silicon era can affect how our governments will use the replacement of silicon. Our governments right now are using scientists to find what should be the right replacement for silicon. The government and/or nation that discovers the right replacement first will most likely benefit from the discovery the most, especially if that country is rich in the replacement or can access the replacement easily. Then other nations will want that replacement, and so the nation and/or government can sell the replacement for a high price, thus making a huge profit. Once we find the right replacement, our government will probably employ people to work on maintaining and using the replacement.


(Shape Shifting)

Of all categories, social is impacted the most. Anybody who has their hands on nano robots that have the power to shape shift will be able to live out much easier lives. They can easily keep up with new trends like the interior of their house and their clothing. With ease they can rebuild broken furniture, mend torn clothing, fix a broken dish, etc. As mentioned before, some people will use this new technology in a negative way, though. There will be some type of regulation applied to shape shifting or it would get out of hand. With shape shifting on our horizon, our society and the way we live out every day are destined to change.


As stated above, the social impact of all of the themes would be huge, especially so for the replicator. Imagine if instead of having your family computer, you have a family replicator. Rather than having to buy computer ink cartridges, you would have to buy the raw materials needed to create what you want. Also, this technology could be abused, as making something bad for your own uses would be available. That means that the use of the replicator would be closely monitored, because the United States are not the only ones that want a replicator to be commercially used. This could cause tensions between countries and could change our allies as a nation forever.


Nanomedicine, in 2100, is expected to revolutionize the social world. Just think, when humans don't have to go to the doctor every time they have an ear infection or a sore throat, they will be able to swallow a smart pill and the pill will do the work. That is a small example of how nanomedicine will make a huge impact on the social aspect of our world. Instances with a bigger impact are to do with the smart pill as well. Say someone needs a minor surgery. The only thing they will have to do is attain the pill. Once they do that, they will be able to swallow it and have the surgery right there in their own homes. Some would call this choosing High Tech over High Touch. This is how nanomedicine will impact the social world. People will begin to choose High Tech more often because it is more convenient. But as we talked about before in the introduction section of this page, High Touch never fails to be the first choice in a more urgent situation, so nanomedicine will not completely revolutionize the world, but in most aspects, it is presumed to do so.

(Post-Silicon Era)

The least impact that the post-silicon era will have is probably on the social world. By looking for and finding the perfect replacement right now, there is some social interaction. However, in the future after we develop and maintain the replacement for silicon that will be most of the social interaction that humans will have with each other concerning the post-silicon era. Our governments will have to interact with each other to extract and use the replacement of silicon.

Essential Terminology

As you read the chapter, you are responsible to select 5 words that you'd consider important vocabulary for understanding the chapter. These words should be either words you do not already know the definition to or words you don't use on a regular basis. For each word complete the following. Each student must include 5 vocabulary words and draft the meaning and use it in a sentence but all students should work together to come to a final agreement on the word's meaning and sentences. The sentences should show an understanding of the word's meaning and be related to the topic. Use the comment feature for this.

Realm (p.174): a kingdom
Realms of possibilities.

Counterintuitive (p.41)- contrary to intuition or to common-sense expectation (but often nevertheless true)
Counterintuitive result.

Dogma (p.296): a principle or principles stated by an authority that is probably true.
There are many dogmas of Christianity.

Pauli exclusion principle (p.176): states that two electrons can't exist in the same quantum state.
The reason objects appear to be solid is because of the Pauli exclusion principle.

Accelerometer (p.179): an instrument that measures acceleration
The movement of the car was measured in accelerometers.

Quantum Theory (p.9)- explains the nature and behavior of matter and energy on the atomic and subatomic level.
The quantum theory explains how atoms form into solids.

Nanotechnology (p.10)- the science of manipulating materials on an atomic or molecular scale
Nanotechnology can completely transform how our world works in the future.

Moore's Law (p.20)- over the history the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles about every two years.
Moore's Law is predicted to collapse in the near future.

Transistor (p.9)- a semiconductor device used to amplify and switch electronic signals and electrical power.
Transistors are one of the possible replacements for silicon chips.

Quantum Computer (p.192)-a computer that makes use of the quantum of subatomic particles to store information.
Quantum computers is another possible replacement for silicon.

Nanobot (p.200)-A robot scaled down to atom size which is self-propelled, can reproduce, and can do work.

Graphene (p.192)-A mineral that is the size of an atom, is stronger than iron, and extremely light. Graphene is likely to replace silicon.

Programmable Matter (p.196) -Programmable matter is matter which has the ability to change its physical properties in a programmable fashion, based upon user input or autonomous sensing. This matter would have to be linked to a material that has the ability to perform information processing.

Geiger Counter (p.176)-A device for measuring how much radioactivity there is by counting and collecting ionizing particles.

Molecular Machine (p.185)-Also called nanomachine, it is made up of molecular components and can answer commands.

Quantum (p. 203)
The smallest amount of radiant energy.
One photon is considered a "light quantum"

Electron (p. 203)
A negatively charged particle that revolves around the outside of an atom.
When two atoms are connected, the electron now surrounds both of them.

Scanning Tunneling Microscope (p. 206)
A very powerful microscope that can be used to view individual atoms by using a needle that has a tip as thin as an atom and the tunneling effect.
Without a Scanning Tunneling Microscope we would not have the power to view individual atoms

MEMS or Microelectromechanical System (p. 207)
Combining mechanical structures with microelectronics. These are used and designed for specific jobs like sensors or types of medical equipment. These Microelectromechanical Systems are controlled by using a computer.

ATP or Adenosine Triphosphate (p. 213)
Adenosine and Triphosphoric acid. Formed aerobically by a chemical reaction. It is used as source of energy for body functions like when you contract a muscle.

Nanometer (p.204)
A unit of measure equal to one billionth of a meter.
nothing actually touches but it hovers a nanometer above it.

Vacuum (p.203)
A place devoid of matter.
The vacuum of space contains no matter.

Heisenberg uncertainty principal (p.204)
A scientific principal that states it is impossible to determine the exact location of a particle.
we can not find the exact location of the electron because of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.

Microcoating (p.207)
The use of nanotechnology to make a chemical coatings.
I was going to get my car painted by i got a microcoating instead.

Nanoparticles (p.207)
A small object that behaves as a whole unit.
Nanoparticles are used to create nano coverings.

Team Members

Put your username or first name only and your school below. If your team designated you with a specific task like lead editor, copy editor, or another task that you want done on the page, please note that.

  • Micah K-Westwood-Camilla, GA
  • Taylor B.-Westwood-Camilla, GA
  • Ty C- Westwood-Camilla, GA
  • Gabe S.-Bettendorf Schools-Bettendorf, IA
  • Jack S.-Bettendorf Schools-Bettendorf, IA


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