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Manipulation of Matter

  1. Dec 1, 2008 #1
    I apologize if I posted this in the wrong area. Hopefully, I chose correctly.

    I guess my question is linked to the composition of matter and our ability to manipulate it. If all things are made out of atoms (hence electrons, protons and neutrons), why can't scientists create food? As bizarre as it sounds, the substances we eat must contain protons, electrons and neutrons. If we can strip electrons off a metal, and we can shoot protons beams at objects, what is stopping us from creating food like the replicators do on Star Trek?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 1, 2008 #2
    Lots and lots of energy which requires lots and lots of money.

    It's entirely possible to take some hydrogen gas and squeeze on it until it fuses into helium... I forgot what comes next, but anyway you can keep doing that until you get to carbon and then throw that stuff into some hydrogen under the right conditions and you get a protein of some sort.

    The problem is that the process takes a lot of energy and that would cost a lot of money. I'm talking trillions of dollars here. All the atoms we have on Earth? All the carbon, silicon, oxygen, iron, etc., came from fusion at the core of a star, or a super nova.

    Not only that, but it turns out nature is a lot better at doing this than we are. To be fair, it had a several billion year head start. Plants take in sunlight and use it as energy and that helps them build their own cells. Animals eat plants, yadda yadda, go watch Lion King for details.
  4. Dec 8, 2008 #3


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    I don't think we were able to create a single protein up to this day. I might be wrong though.
    A lot of energy as said WarPhalange but I doubt it's the biggest issue. Think about that, a protein is a complex molecule (or maybe even very complex one). How do you think you can shoot a proton or whatsoever exactly at the place it should be in the molecule? Also it should have the "good" velocity in order not to damage the molecule. It's way too hard I believe for the technology we have nowadays.
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