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December 16, 2004
Lab of the Future!
One of my colleagues at a former company used to speculate about what gadgets he really wanted in the lab. The only problem was that some of these came near to violating physical laws, and the ones that didn't needed. . .well, a bit of R&D work before they could be launched.
Take the "Molecular Weight Grabber." This, my friend explained, would be something that you dipped down into your crude reaction mixture and sloshed around - it'd be about the size of a magnetic stir bar retriever, for those of you in the field. And it would have a dial on the top of it that you could set to the desired molecular weight, and only things of that weight would stick to it. Then you pull it out, stick it into another flask, hit a button to release everything, and on to the next step.
That would be pretty useful, all right. I can vaguely imagine how a massively robust nanotechnology could actually produce something like that, too - molecular-size torsion balances to sort things out and so on. I imagine it would need a pretty robust power source to accomplish all that work and run back all that entropy, but that's something for the marketing guys to work out, right?
So here's my question: what other lab gizmos would you order if you could? I'll feature the best one in a future post. No thermodynamic impossibilities, please. A semi-plausible explanation of how your idea would work will help your chances, too. Leave 'em in the comments section and let's all get rich.
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