First steps toward programmable matter?

Arguably, since the dawn of the solid state era the human race has been experimenting with the development of computronium, or forms of matter optimized for the processing of information. The doped silicon semiconductors that make up the CPU and much of the supporting circuitry of the computer you're using right now are variants of computronium (albeit very primitive when compared with the above link). Most circuitry as we know it today has a few limitations that we don't often think about, however. First of all, it's on the fragile side. Drop a circuit board when it's not inside a …

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Flexible solar panels now large enough to be practical.

Back in the 80's Edmund Scientific used to sell an amorphous solar cell educational kit: a small lozenge of flexible plastic that contained a pinkish purple solar panel, a couple of lengths of wire, a small light, and a tiny electric fan. The nifty thing about that little solar cell was that it really was flexible; unlike the rigid crystalline solar panels we've all seen you could curl that little sucker around your finger and it would still work if you set it in the sun. While they don't appear to sell that exact kit anymore (and if I'm wrong …

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