The Articulate Architect

There is a friend of mine, an architect, who I think deserves special mention at this point. He has an invention that I am sure will revolutionise the building and construction industry. It is about the size of a suitcase, although I am sure this is an exaggeration, it is probably nearer to the size of an artist’s portfolio case.

I will try to describe what the invention does, but please bear in mind that I am as far from an engineer as you could get.

This device, I can assure you, is just about the most impressive piece of engineering you will find anywhere. I cannot say I have seen first hand how it works, but apparently it goes something like this:

The device is taken to the location where the building construction is required. It is placed on the ground and activated. A cylindrical apparatus emerges from the device and embeds itself into the ground; it then proceeds to extract the minerals, water, and other substances it requires. The device then opens out, lengthwise, until it reaches the full required length of the building. It then begins to open out at right-angles, expanding until it forms the building’s width. This process continues until the device returns to the point at which it began, and the foundation of the building and the inner layout is thus established. The device then collects a large amount of required materials, before resuming its expanding process. This time it expands upwards, until the walls of the building are formed. During this time, apparently, the device also has the facility to include the doors and windows of the building. And finally a substantial roof is added. The entire procedure occurs at an alarmingly speedy rate.

Upon completion, the door can be opened to reveal a fully-fitted building, including carpets, electrical wiring, water piping, sanitary facilities, furniture, electrical devices, decorations, paintwork, ornate carvings, even a pantry stocked with food. At the center of the building is a computer, which controls the entire building. High quality wiring permeates the entire building, embedded in the walls, floor, ceiling and roof. This wiring carries enormous amounts of information back to the computer to enable any problems, or less-than-perfect conditions, to be reported to the central computer, which can then take action. There are also highly sophisticated security devices, although I’m afraid I am not qualified to either understand or explain them…

Dream House –

I have been an admirer of this device for so long now, and I’ve tried very hard to explain it to family, friends, and acquaintances. Needless to say, the reactions have been many and varied. Usually skeptical. I assure them that this device is real, it actually exists, it is no fiction; still they do not believe. Some even laugh at the idea. Do you believe that? Laughing at the very possibility of this device…

But it is real. It is as powerful and “clever” as the above description implies. In fact, the above is a very crude description of this device. As you may have guessed, it is not actually an artist’s portfolio case, well not really; maybe it’s a fitting allegorical description of this contrivance.

What I have actually been describing is the human cell. This begins “life” as a single entity, a zygote. It is able to defend itself, even at this size, and can reproduce itself, very rapidly. It is self-replicating, self-sustaining, self-regulating, self-repairing, and passes on all of its attributes to its “clone” each time it reproduces. It also contains, within itself and within almost every cloned cell, instructions for when and how to turn off and on all of the multitude of characteristics that make up the many cell-types within the human body; thus contributing, in time, to each complete organ, which in turn contribute to the complete individual.

House of the future –

Now, be honest; let us suppose for a moment that you didn’t cheat. You read the article from the top without sneaking a peak further down.

As you were reading the explanation of this fantastic machine which contains many thousands of smaller machines, an invention of some fictitious friend of mine, you no doubt considered the description of the device to be far-fetched, even absurd. No-one could conceive such a device that produces buildings in that way, especially the superb examples illustrated above.

But if we magnify the human cell to the size of our allegorical portfolio case, for our own educational purposes within our own imaginations, and magically convert all of its components to machine-gauge metal and other human-configurable materials … What would be required for each one of these components to function in exactly the same way as their corresponding tiny counterparts in a real human cell? Is there any engineer who could accomplish such a task?

Let us assemble all the top 1,000 engineers in the world, and then add in experts from all the related disciplines necessary to complete the task. How would you rate their chances? If they in fact accomplished the task, what would the exercise actually prove? Would it not effectively be another demonstration of Dynamic principles at work?