Proposal for an analogue 3-D printer

Ok, so 3-D printers are all the rage right now, and that’s fantastic. They have the potential to totally democratize industrial design and manufacturing, and to break the stranglehold that evil corporate power has over all of the convenience doohickies that we’ve decided we need in the “modern” world. Yay for 3-D printers. But right now they’re still only accessible to a privileged few. I also think they’re a little funny, because all of reality is already a massive, large-scale 3-D printer. Maybe a 4-D printer.

To start with, think of the way a shell is formed. A clam shell might be the easiest form to visualize. The clam organism carries the basic mathematical algorithm for SHELL in its DNA. As the organism goes about living, it is manufacturing that shell around itself. Just imagine a 3-D printer made of light, zipping around the outside edge of the shell, incrementally adding layer after layer of material, following the mathematical line laid out by the SHELL algorithm. Now repeat that visualization with other shapes of shells, plants, trees, flowers (animals are a bit more complex, we’ll think about that later).

There’s one key thing that we’ve still got a bit backwards (or inside-out?) in our manufacturing industries. We still think of building stuff as “putting things together”. We collect a bunch of materials that we think of as dead chunks of stuff, and we put them together to build whatever thing we’re making. But the manufacture of life is fundamentally different in two ways. First, the bits are much, much smaller. Life manufactures itself molecule by molecule, cell by cell, tiny particle by tiny particle. Second, there is no “assembly” process with life, life is a fucking explosion. A slow explosion, maybe, but think about time-lapse images of a seed germinating, a flower blossoming, a child growing into an adult… Life is an explosion outwards, expanding, growing, flowering, until it withers into dust and becomes compost – an inanimate pile of its constituent minerals, which will be collected and re-assembled by the next living organism.

So here’s the whole cycle: the seed contains the essential algorithm of the organism. The basic mathematical template. It also contains just enough mineral material to get the organism going. So there’s the seed, and it waits for the right conditions to be present for its growth; the right temperature, the right assortment of minerals, the right amount of hydration and ventilation. When it’s ready, the explosion is triggered. The seed (which was dormant, in stasis, simply math) expands, explodes… energy fields form around it. The mineral material that was the seed suddenly expands into living cells, which immediately begin collecting minerals from its environment and begin the work of repeating the basic algorithm of the seed over and over and over again (fractals!), becoming more complex, more sophisticated, more refined. The organism is doing three essential things: it is collecting minerals from its environment; it is performing complex chemistry to transform those minerals into cells of its body; it is expelling the waste materials of the transformation processes. All the while, becoming more complex as it goes.

Now, one key to the fundamental algorithm of all life forms is the spiral. Specifically the Spiral of the Golden Ratio (also called the Fibonacci Sequence but I hate naming elemental things after people – it seems idiotic to me to put one person’s name on something that people have been noticing on their own over and over again throughout history). Anyways, that Golden Ratio Spiral is visibly present in pretty much every living organism. That makes me think about spinning. Like a centrifuge. Like, there’s an energy field surrounding every living organism… no, that’s not it… The energy field is the organism. Without the energy field, the organism is just a pile of minerals… dust. Think about the spirals of a galaxy. Now imagine a doughnut shape – a doughnut made of energy, not dough. Superimpose the doughnut shape onto the spiral galaxy – no actually, just imagine a spinning doughnut. Then imagine that the doughnut is spinning and breathing at the same time – expanding, contracting, in, out… breathing… Ok one more thing… take the infinity symbol, and superimpose it over a cross-section of the doughnut – the cross section that would look like two circles next to each other. Let’s review those three motions of the doughnut shape: spinning, breathing, and rotation through the infinity cycle. Try to imagine all three of those things happening at the same time. I know, it’s hard. My brain can’t quite pull the visualization together yet. But that’s basically what make an organism. Add minerals that exist in physical reality, and you have an organism like you or me or your dog, or your house plant, or the trees outside your window, or the mosquito trying to suck your blood.

Don’t believe me? Think it sounds like improbable pseudo-science? Whatever. Just look at the world around you. Look at trees, especially. It’s easiest to see it in trees – they are such obvious doughnuts. Think of the Celtic World Tree design. But also, just look at them! They’re all fucking dancing. Ecstatic explosions of life.

Back to the manufacturing thing. So it seems to me that it would be relatively simple (not necessarily easy, just simple) to work out how to create 3-D principals that are really really easy to use, incredibly powerful, and super refined. Eventually… at first they’ll mostly make models of trees. Trees seem like the easiest thing.

So here’s the basic materials: you start with a Seed. A Seed is a densely packed packet of minerals, arranged according to a specific set of algorithms. I’m not sure what the function of that arrangement is; whether it’s the shape of the particles, or the magnetic charge between them or whatever. That part just requires lots of experimentation to figure out. Anyways, you have the Seed. You put the Seed into a Centrifuge: a large spinning plate with cone sides (or no sides, depending). While the centrifuge is spinning, you shoot the seed with a laser, which triggers it to explode. Immediately, durring mid-spload, you shoot with another, broader lazer, which freezes the ‘splosion. So you basically have a frozen ‘sploasion, which I expect would look exactly like a tree (at least, the part that you see above ground). Of course, with the use of acoustic levitation, we could create models of the whole tree, roots and all!

Obvious intricacies of this experiment would be the speed of the spinning, the force of the explosion, the time between the explosion and the freez-ray, and (the most exciting variation of all), the possibility of multiple partial freezings to see how the object grows… and which leads potentially to rapid pulse freeze-ray… which could even lead to comparisons between slow-motion videos of the explosions, and time-laps videos of trees growing… oh my, there’s so many options!!!

Anyhow… I’m assuming (collective consciousness being what it is…) that the fact that I’m having this idea means that lots of other people around the world are also having this idea, and that somewhere, one of those people is actually putting this technology together. That would be super.

But… really… I’m not even that into being able to artificially manufacture anything. The thing that I’m really excited about is something that oodles of indigenous people had already figured out long before the idea of manufacturing, or the industrial revolution… the idea that the grand and massive 3-D printer machine that is reality and nature, is already manufacturing everything we could possibly need. Really all we have to do is to restore and properly steward the environment, then get to work on re-aquainting ourselves with the intricacies of the natural world… then we might really be gods.



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