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Sci-fi Fridays #2: Artificial Cells (as chemical plants)
Reminder: For the next several Fridays, we are going to provide a writing prompt based on a technology we think is ripe for a coordinated research program. In the comments, we want you to create a piece of flash fiction that includes the prompt technology in some way! At the end of the eight weeks, we’ll pick a first, second, and third place winner through a combination of likes on posts and program manager discretion. These people will receive one of Spectech’s “core books” that we send to people who join.
Artificial Cells as chemical plants. Currently, chemical reactions are done in bulk and depend on everything in the tank coming to a new equilibrium. Living cells can be coaxed into synthesizing a subset of chemicals that don't kill them, but that subset is relatively small and opens the doors to runaway evolution. Abstractly, cells are systems that maintain an out-of-equilibrium state separate from the environment -- artificial, non-self-replicating cells could enable multiple reactions to happen in parallel and more efficiently, potentially entirely new processes.
(Hints: factories that can be transported in a bag full of liquid; chemical manufacturing that can scale seamlessly; products that can’t be created any other way; hierarchical, multimaterial structured created the same way an oyster builds its shell.)
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