A Molecule to ‘Make it So’

. Sunday, December 27

molecular-transistor-264x300 After years and years of watching all versions released of Star Trek, I never once caught a glimpse of the “computer core” that was mentioned now and then. There was no doubt that the Enterprise’s computer was powerful - what with voice recognition, transporters, holodeck projections and warp speed - but I guess the creators felt that power too massive to try to depict, or even imagine.

Admittedly, the technology presented on Star Trek is the limit of my actual scientific knowledge, that the original series aired during the time of vacuum tube resistors and transistors underscores Gene Rodenberry’s foresight in real-world advances.

Silicon brought technology closer to Rodenberry’s vision, but still left miles to go before “beam me up, Scotty” could ever come close to reality. While I now had a desktop computer, it was a far cry from having enough power to even create the show’s digitally crafted opening sequence. Bummer.

Today, science has given us the next step toward functional nanomachines with the promise of exponentially more computing power than what exists now. This advance takes the form of a single molecule of benzene that can be manipulated with varying voltage to control the current passing through it.

Yes, the next step has happened. Now, I must add, “Make it so.”