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Comment Re:So, When Will This Be Cheap? (Score 1) 333 333

This thread is making me wonder, Is it feasible we will someday see a USB-like device for home organic synthesis, like a 3-D printer but for products of organic chemistry? Impossible? Waiting to happen?

The device you propose has an unlikelihood level somewhere between human immortality and teleportation.

Comment Re:Just grow a few poppies (Score 1) 333 333

It is perfectly legal to grow poppies. They grow very easily and is practically a weed. Since it is so easy, why would one want to use yeast?

No, it's not perfectly legal (in the US) and may be perfectly illegal in other jurisdictions. That said, they grow like weeds in the part of Canada where I live - and they are the very first item in our criminal code's list of illegal substances

Comment Re:Why not? (Score 1) 78 78

Sensitivity is a factor but selectivity is much more crucial to any such analysis. Without physically separating the constituent materials as part of an analysis, "signatures" will overlap and obscure each other. Anyhow, I'm not pooh-poohing this technology, just trying to add some balance to the conversation, which (around here) trends towards science fiction more than science.

Comment Re:Why not? (Score 2) 78 78

The problem is that the spectroscopic techniques capable amenable to implemention on a small device can only give some general information about a material or mixture. This may be enough to select one option from a narrow set of possibilities (eg: is that drain pipe PVC or ABS plastic?). However, it is not going to identify the presence of a toxin in a bowl of soup or tell you that your gold watch is only gold-plated.

Comment Flying cars (Score 1) 78 78

Without reading TFA I can assert that this area of work is not going to let the consumer unambiguously determine the composition of anything. Right now the chemical analytical techniques to figure out what the composition of a substance require huge machines and significant training in spectroscopy and there's no way of miniaturizing those techniques and automating the interpretation of the data. I'm sure you can get some information but not enough to say anything for-sure :-)

Economists state their GNP growth projections to the nearest tenth of a percentage point to prove they have a sense of humor. -- Edgar R. Fiedler

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