The defining traits of gem-gum-tec

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Grey bubble at the bottom: All material properties permissible by physical law.
Red dot (and magnified red bubble): All material properties that can be emulated by gemstone metamaterials (gem-gum).
Blue dot: All material properties that we (or nature) can create today today (2018)

There are two core ideas that determine what the R&D direction from early forms of APM to advanced forms of APM actually is. This wiki will refer to those two ideas with the shorthand "gem-gum". This shorthand has been chosen since:

  • it is catchy, in other words easy to spell and remember.
    whereas "high throughput atomically precise manufacturing" and "atomically precise manufacturing level technology" are not.
    (Source of these rather long terms: "Radical Abundance")
  • it is highly specific and thus hard to annex by other concepts. It very clearly points to the far term goal
    which "high throughput atomically precise manufacturing level technology" does not.


Core idea #1 Gem:
Short for high stiffness gemstone like compound.

Gradual increase of the stiffness of the materials we build with is the ultimate key to raise our level of control over matter (the key to advanced mechanosynthesis). The term "gem" (short for gemstone - obviously) points exclusively to the ideal stiff base materials of the far term target technology. This explicitly excludes early stage atomically precise manufacturing such as "structural DNA nanotechnology"


Core idea #2 Gem-Gum:
Short for gemstone based mechanical metamaterials with seemingly contradicting and impossible properties. "Gum" (in the sense of rubber like stuff) made out of gemstone, is just a catchy example.

Even when one can mechanosynthesize almost nothing (just a few simple base materials) one can make almost anything by mechanical emulation. This is the "magic" of mechanical metamaterials. "Gum" is just a shorthand for one concrete example of such a metamaterial that rhymes on "Gem" which makes memorization a lot easier. Also it's a concrete example that's rather un-intuitive. Rubber made from gemstone. This could peak interest (click-bait effect).

Even with very minimal high stiffness nano-manufacturing capabilities (just one single high performance compound like e.g. diamond and nothing else) the amount of materials creatable will far exceed what is available today.

Limits to the ambitions

APM is sometimes said to have the goal to:

  • Create most arrangements (or patterns) of atoms that are permitted by and consistent with physical law.

But that is even beyond the far term goal of gem-gum factories.

Due to the strong "pessimism" (more formally "conservativeness") of exploratory engineering the reliably predictable part of future tecnology is just the innermost naked core of what will really emerge. Part of this "innermost naked core" are just a few base materials. But these few alone are, when made into (mechanical) metamaterials, already sufficient for the emulation of an overwhelming plethora of material properties that goes far beyond what we have today (2017).

Much of the yet to come stuff that cannot yet be expected from the incremental path (including fundamentally unpredictable scientific discoveries) may remain in the final systems. But there also often will be strong reasons to ditch earlier legacy technology to not unnecessarily limit the range of situations in which the advanced products will be usable in.

The space of gem-gum Materials - Insanely big and but still insanely small

Gemstone based mechanical metamaterials (here called "gem-gum") are a clear (and relatively simple) far term goal of APM. "Gem-gum" will extend the material properties that are available to us today to material properties that currently are deemed exotic or even contradictory and seemingly impossible.

In the process of getting towards the far term goal of "gem-gum" even further reaching capabilities are likely to become accessible that can provide material properties even beyond those that "gem-gum" can provide. One example would be: Direct mechanosynthesis of digestible food molecules. But these materials are even further out and even harder to predict. Related is: "Synthesis of food".