I had to say something about this recent article from DeZeen: “NASA Develops 3-D Printing Factory in Space.” I just finished the draft for The Portent, and there’s a scene in it that involves the marriage of nanotechnology (and/or synthetic biology) and 3-D printing. I hinted at that scene during my interview with Art Bell a week ago.
But NASA and the military industrial complex would never contemplate anything like that.
Here’s the Rebecca-from-Sunnybrook-Farm spin from NASA about the venture:
“This radically different approach to building space systems will enable us to create antennas and arrays that are tens-to-hundreds of times larger than are possible now, providing higher power, higher bandwidth, higher resolution, and higher sensitivity for a wide range of space missions.”
Sure. It’ll do that. It’s a great idea to make hardware in space. Why not?
The problem is that it doesn’t take too much imagination to speculate on what sort of other kinds of recipes and ingredients NASA could put into a technology like 3-D printing (“What would you like to make today . . . with organic materials?”). Garbage in, garbage out. Organic material in …
The unpopular reality is that, if and when NASA or anyone else is able to wield synthetic biology (that’s writing new, unique DNA from the atomic and molecular level up), it would be painfully easy to fabricate non-terrestrial DNA and claim it’s alien life. That’s not debunking. It’s a frank admission that those who don’t wield such technology would have no hope of critically evaluating such a claim in a world where some people did wield that technology. And once someone achieves the ability to manufacture non-terrestrial DNA right here on earth (again, think about that one), then what’s to stop any tethering of it to 3-D technology?
In other words, in such a world, how would we tell truth from falsehood with respect to a claim that ET life had been discovered? Granted, I’m with you if you’re thinking most scientists could be trusted with such a research claim (i.e., they’d be doing honest science). But I hope no one is so gullible to think that science is never politicized, and that this particular science would never be politicized.
It’s a shame that this sort of technology has the potential to take something that’s true and undermine it with skepticism, and to take something false and celebrate it as truth. But it might not be that way had those in power in these areas for so many years been more ethical and high-minded. We reap what we sow.