Programming Matter: The Science of Digital Fabrication

Neil Gershenfeld

Director, The Center for Bits and Atoms, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Videography by Nerine & Robert Clemenzi, Edited by Nerine Clemenzi
Copyright © Philosophical Society of Washington.  All rights reserved.


"Digital fabrication" is used informally to refer to computers controlling manufacturing machines, but it has a deeper meaning in materials that can contain codes. I will describe the historical and intellectual parallels between digitizing communication and computation and now fabrication, and present a research roadmap for making something that can make anything.

Neil Gershenfeld

About the Author:

Neil Gershenfeld is the Director of MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms. His laboratory is developing technology to bridge the boundaries between the digital and the physical. His lab has developed digital design software and implemented hardware that can directly fabricate an astonishingly wide variety of objects, ranging from musical instruments to molecular quantum computers. The technology has been used and displayed in a wide diversity of ways and settings throughout the world, from the Museum of Modern Art in New York City to rural India, from the White House to inner-city community centers. The technology is increasingly important for prototyping and is finding its way into direct manufacturing applications.

He is the author of numerous technical publications and books, including Fab, When Things Start To Think, The Nature of Mathematical Modeling, and The Physics of Information Technology. He is an inventor of many patented inventions. He has been featured in articles in The New York Times, The Economist, and on the McNeil/Lehrer News Hour, among others. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, has been named one of Scientific American's 50 leaders in science and technology, has been designated as one of 40 Modern-Day Leonardos by the Museum of Science and Industry, has been selected as a CNN/Time/Fortune Principal Voice, and he has been named one of the top 100 public intellectuals by Prospect/Foreign Policy

Neil earned a BA in Physics from Swarthmore and a PhD in Applied Physics from Cornell. He also has an honorary Doctor of Science from Swarthmore, was a Junior Fellow of the Harvard University Society of Fellows, and was a member of the research staff at Bell Labs.

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