Thesupermat via wikimedia commons
Scientists are now manufacturing microspheres, just like Neal Stephenson said they would. These are not like popular 3D printers, which require a single material to be used throughout. Instead, these microspheres can be programmed to consist of a variety of mixtures.
At the beginning of Hidden Scents: The Language of Smell in the Age of Approximation, I pose the following question, half-jokingly:
“What if the internet was not a textual phenomenon? What if, instead of words, the internet was a world of volatile organic molecules? What if we could search this organic world with our bodies? What would we do with it? With ourselves?”
With advances like those seen here in the creation of programmable, artificial molecules, this question becomes much less outlandish.
April 2016, phys.org
Ni S, Leemann J, Buttinoni I, Isa L, Wolf H: Programmable colloidal molecules from sequential capillarity-assisted particle assembly, Science Advances, 1 April 2016, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501779
May 2016, Popular Science