pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Mon Mar 26 22:49:24 EST 2001

Subject:   Disposables

Dear Colleagues -

What adjectives are available to us to distinguish the designed and
produced artifact from the natural object? 

Can we use "artificial" which one dictionary defines as "made by
art rather than by nature; not genuine or natural; not pertaining
to the essence of the matter" and another defines as "made by human
beings; produced rather than natural"? Proposed synonyms are
affected, factitious, sham, simulated, spurious, synthetic,
unnatural. Listed antonyms are actual, genuine, honest, natural,
real, truthful, unaffected.

Our language seems to reflect a deep distrust of engineered
products. While I will not assess the validity of that evaluation
here, or explore its possible psychological roots, I must say that
thoughts about such roots cross my mind whenever I read of a
high-tech effort to make complex technology disposable, like the
one below. If it's worth doing, it's worth making it disposable?

All best,  --PJK

(from INNOVATION,  26 March 2001  Innovation Weekly)

Rolltronics, a Menlo Park, Calif. technology firm, is developing
technology  that could lead to mass-produced roll-up computers that
are printed out  onto thin films of plastic. It hopes to do this by
extending a  manufacturing technique, called "roll-to-roll"
processing, so that it can  be used to manufacture flexible
computer components. Rolltronics is leaving  the flexible display
development to researchers already working on "digital  paper," and
is relying on several firms that have licensed Iowa Thin Film 
Technology's (ITFT) roll-to-roll process for making thin film
flexible  batteries. Meanwhile, it's formed a partnership with ITFT
to develop the  other pieces of the puzzle -- flexible circuitry
and flexible storage.  Rolltronics has licensed several patents
from the Lawrence Livermore Lab  for turning amorphous silicon into
the crystalline kind without high  temperatures. The resulting
silicon can then be used to make transistors  that are small,
flexible and reasonably fast. And it's licensed technology  from
researchers at the University of Texas for a novel form of memory
that  consists of a thin layer of organic liquid crystal sandwiched
between two  sheets of glass. By substituting plastic for glass,
Rolltronics plans to  manufacture a flexible version of this memory
using a roll-to-roll process.  The long-term vision for the project
is to make a complete flexible  computer in a laminated sandwich
just a couple of millimeters thick. ("Just  Press Print," The
Economist 1 Mar 2001)

More information about the EAS-INFO mailing list