slide-one-copy(…excerpt from the in progress ‘architectural’ graphic novel archimorph)


The Near Future

It is July in Nebraska, and the humid air looms over Jim as he removes the handkerchief from his back pocket and wipes the sweat from his brow. Yet again, it has been another day of relaxation and self-reflection, of daydreaming under the willow tree, and tending to the garden. This type of day is not unordinary for Jim, for in this time material possessions are worthless and only meaningful to the owner when he needs them. There is no theft or robbery here, for anyone can have whatever it is that he or she desires, and the need to steal from a neighbor is never felt. With money being worthless and material objects conceived at the blink of an eye, Jim has spent the last few months tending to his life and taking the time to question deeper meanings of life.

As his daydream dissipates, he looks at beautiful blue sky and continues his walk back up to the house. Upon reaching the entrance of the house, it senses his presence and dilutes the wall from a solid to fog, allowing for his passage, and back again upon entry. As he enters, his house senses that he is tired by the stride in his walk, slumped posture, and breathing rhythm. Walls, once translucent soaking in the day’s sun, now become black shutting out the exterior light. Changing its molecular make-up the floor becomes soft to the touch and comfortable to the inhabitant, and from out of the floor a couch materializes to catch Jim as he lays down for a midday nap.

Fifty miles away an F5 tornado is tearing through the Nebraska landscape, for it is once again tornado season. Unknowing of the oncoming disaster, Jim slumbers in his sleep as his house is directly in the path, and will with out a doubt be destroyed under any other past building methods. For the last twenty years there has not been a single death by natural disasters, and on key there will not be one today. Today, as every day, each house within the projected path of the tornado is able to sense its oncoming presence, and just as a starfish on the ocean floor, move itself out of the way and protect itself. A change in barometric pressure is processed by the house and it senses the danger before it ever hits, moves out of the way, and afterwards returns back to its place of being.

Jim awakes to the walls clearing from their translucent sleep, revealing bright blue skies as he notices that it is daylight outside, the birds are chirping and it is the next morning. The house senses his awakening, revealing a kitchen next to his bedroom. He notices that the tree which once stood in front of the house is gone, with only a torn stump still remaining. ‘There must have been another tornado during the night’, he thinks as he groggily heads outside to assess the damage of the landscape. Jim’s house however, like all of the others, did not sustain any damage and he slept right through the horrendous storm. For his house, like every other house, was well prepared. Over fifty miles away, before any tornado was sighted, or even touched ground, a farmer’s house sensed an unusual change in air pressure. The house collected the data, was able to predict its path and life, and send signals to all surrounding buildings to protect themselves and their inhabitants. As the tornado touched ground and scoured the earth for nearly seventy miles, every house was aware, and moved out of the way in time for the tornado to pass, and then safely crawl back to its original location.

To find out how we got this point in time, we must go back in time and look at the beginning, where it all began, how it began, and why it began…

The Beginning

Grey is working late again as he usually does, everyday, every night, all day, all night. He sleeps little and spends all of his hours either working or thinking about his work at hand. He is an architect, but not the egotistical driven Fountain Head architect of the twenties. No, he is more like DiVinci or Einstein–a renaissance man. This is someone who has devoted their life in the name of science. The project he now works on has consumed his life for nearly three decades, and is quickly coming to an end as he finalizes the project, and begins to sign the release forms. With his signature on the page, Grey is about to single handedly change the world as those living in it now know it. From this point on a new age will begin, one that will revolutionize the world and forever change it.

The project coded ‘Archimorph’, a project conceived in his earlier years, took over his life and sent him down a tangent path in time to create a new world order. Technology has now caught up with the project’s aspirations, as its fulfillment is conceived. Initial nanobots can be built via convergent assembly, and the processes Grey helped to develop and design are able to see self-reproducing nanobots. Feeding off of carbon by splitting Co2 molecules, the nanobots harvest the carbon from the atmosphere for building, and release the lone oxygen molecule back into the air. These carbon molecules are taken to the nanofactoy within the bots carbon shell, where they can then be used to build a new member of nanobot. It is today, that the first ‘Archimorph’ will be released to the public in stores, offering for the first time a new future for civilization.

After today, money for material objects will be worthless and no more than a paper object ready for recycling. People will now work for service industries, but no longer in the manufacturing process, for nothing needs manufactured. With the proper script, nanobots are able to be recoded into any object desired. As Grey prepares for yet another sleepless night, he ponders how the public will react to such a future. Will there be a future? Life altering questions such as these are the reason Grey has not slept more than a wink at a time in months.

The bell clanks against the glass door as the first customer of the morning walks into the Archimorph store. His name is Jim, a middle aged man, who has been standing in line for over a week in hope to be the first customer through the door. For this is the first time the public will be able to own an Archimorph. It is also the last exchange he will ever make on a material object. There have been many debates of concern over the release of such technology, especially with the ‘grey goo’ myth, a theory that the nanobots will eat up all carbon molecules on the planet, killing every living thing on it. But Jim has faith in the technology, and the designer behind it–he has been a supporter of the project from day one. After all, people said the Hadron collider would destroy the earth too, and he’s still here with the knowledge of knowing he is within ten dimensions. Hardwired into each nanobot is a process of limits, telling them when to start, and most importantly when to quit. The nanobots must know when to terminate, because it is only then that they, like other living creatures, must know there limits and keep from taking too much.

Before him in the middle of the shop, Jim stares upwards at a large plume completely constructed of nanobots. Their molecular make-up has been changed so that it has the composition of cotton. He walks up to the column, and like cotton candy pulls a chunk from the column. Within the palm of his hand he now has the first nanobots owned in public. The local media is at hand to report the first exchange in the town; a flash, a snap, and a shot of Jim is frozen in time. Like a kid with a new bike, Jim rushes to the place where he once called home. As he approaches the yard he recalls the white picket fence, the wood shake siding, and the eighteenth century design. A week ago he had his house demolished and the materials sold off for proper recycling. Now all that remains is his old concrete stoop– something he kept for memories, as it was a place where he spent many of nights waiting for such a day.

Coming to all customers of the new technology is a personal display device, directly linking the user to the nanobots. With his PDA in one hand, and his Archimorph in the other, Jim prepares for the inevitable. He lays the cube on the ground and turns on the PDA. The welcome screen loads and it prompts Jim for a few quick informative details–his height. Six Feet. His weight. Two Hundred Twenty. The number of persons living in the house. One. And the room types in which he desires- bedroom, kitchen, dining room, living room, bathroom. The program takes Jim’s modular dimensions, and based off of pre programmed spatial requirements inserts this as criteria for the evolution process. It does not matter which rooms Jim picks, for the house can be anything he wants it to be at that given time. He may even decide to turn it into a watch, where he can carry it with him throughout the day. One minute he may be sitting on a chair in the kitchen, and after eating the room becomes the living room, the chair a comfy lounge.

The PDA jumps to life and calculates Jim’s position via GPS as well as; local annual climate data, local and global building codes, and joins his systems to the worldwide network—Resident Number One. Upon receiving the information from Jim, the PDA runs the program which takes his information, inputs the fitness criteria which will influence the evolutionary algorithm that will be run on a natural growth algorithm. After the program has run through ten million generations of evolution on the given form, it finally decides that is has selected nine optimally fit forms for Jim’s context. The nine houses appear on the screen and Jim determines he likes parts of both A and E. He struggles to choose between the two and so he resorts to refining the process more. He picks the individual qualities he likes about each of the houses, and runs them back through the evolutionary process. Finally the end result is returned and Jim looks onto his new house. He then looks onto the ground at the small cube of nanobots, no bigger than his fist, which will in a half hour be the amorphous house he sees on the screen in front of him. He presses Start. At first he does not notice anything, and thinks that this project may be hoax, and in fact not actually work– it did after all seem somewhat outlandish. But in fact the nanobots within the cube are linking up creating new networks and relationships with one another, harvesting carbon straight out of the air for new building materials, reading climate data for molecular composition, and processing trillions of lines of code and script.

Within a minute he notices that the cube actually has gotten bigger, and is in fact beginning to lose its cube shape and become a blob on the ground. Within ten minutes the cube has grown into a large plant-like structure which reaches out into the air, and digs itself into the ground creating foundation, walls, and structure. At twenty minutes the west exterior wall is complete–it has calculated the climate data, adjusted for the thickness and molecular makeup of the wall, calculated the water shed and direction, and channeled tubular veins throughout the exoskeleton to direct rainwater for collection and later reuse. Jim gazes in amazement as the cube transforms before his eyes.

While the structure grows Jim decides that he needs a seat to watch the spectacle before him. He scans through the scriptWiki on the PDA for instructions (a script) on how to build a rocking chair out of the nanobots. While the house is still growing, he reaches onto the built portion of the house and rips off a handful of the house. The wall realizes it has been damaged, begins self-replication of the nanobots in that area, and in fills in the void. With the blob of nanobots in his hand, he sends the instructions to the group of nanobots to form into the red rocking chair he found online. He sets the blob down, and within five minutes before him sits the exact same red rocking chair. He sits down, kicks back, and watches his house under construction by trillions of workers, smaller than a blood cell. He looks back down the neighborhood and for as far as he can see, people in their front yards, gazing at the future, as their house builds itself.

Categories: Nanotech, Theory


studying: architecture design


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One Comment on “Archimorph”

  1. February 20, 2009 at 2:21 pm #

    I love your story, thanks for posting it. Like a Mike Mulligan for a new century. Is this a student project? Where can i read the rest of it? Do you think the archimorphs will start to “care” not just what they are and how they perform, but what they look like? React to their surrounding color, texture, shape and vertical symmetry? Or will we still need architects to make rectangles look interesting? Will they be so busy trying to look pretty or fit in that they ignore the tornado warnings? Or fall in the water trying to touch their reflection? Imitate the other houses? Will they realize the significance that breeds from both repetition and difference?

    If you ask an archimorph “Are you my mother?” will it respond with a “Snort”?

    Smethport, Pennsylvania

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