Make something FABulous at Fermilab Friday, Nov. 12
MIT Center for Bits and Atoms Director Neil Gershenfeld will present a lecture on Friday. Photo credit: MIT Spectrum
The replicators from the Starship Enterprise might be closer to reality than you’d think. A relatively simple setup designed by MIT’s Fab Lab group allows anyone to make components for computers, musical instruments or even houses quickly and easily – and it’s coming to Fermilab.
This Friday from 1-8 p.m., Fermilab’s Public Lecture Series will host Fab Lab demonstrations in the Wilson Hall atrium, presented by volunteers from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. At 8 p.m., Neil Gershenfeld, director of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms, will give a lecture, “How to Make (Almost) Anything.” Tickets to the lecture are $7; the demonstrations are free of charge.
Dave Dykstra, chair of the Fermilab Lecture Series, thinks that MIT’s travelling lab demonstrations and the lecture are perfect for Fermilab.
“Technology is related to science, and we have all this custom-made stuff for our experiments, so we could probably use having one of these labs,” Dykstra said. “Plus, I just thought it was cool.”
The equipment, which includes a laser cutter, a vinyl cutter and a computer numerical control (CNC) router that directs the machine tools, is designed to be user friendly and accessible to anyone with an idea.
Gershenfeld’s Fab Lab setup has garnered interest from leaders in third world countries and small villages throughout the world. In a previous talk, he explained how areas that can’t afford to build huge factories or hire manufacturers for specialized items unique to their communities could benefit from such a lab. More locally, industries such as automobile manufacturers and entrepreneurial groups have also become interested in Fab Labs, as have artists and laborers.
“As prices come down, people could have these in their homes,” Dykstra said. “We have personal computers; we could have personal fab machines.”
Betty Barrett, a UIUC professor who volunteers with Fab Lab and will be demonstrating on Friday, said that participants at her campus have been making everything from baby diapers to robotic arms.
“It’s really an amazing experience for people when they come in and just let themselves think,” said Barrett. “This is the seed for design and innovation around the world. It’s not futuristic, it is the future.”
- Sara Reardon