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Radical Abundance by K. Eric Drexler

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CHAPTER 9

Exploring the Potential of Technology

SCIENCE ASKS, “How can we discover new knowledge?” Engineering asks, “How can we deliver new products?” Exploratory engineering, however, asks a different, less familiar question: “How can we apply existing knowledge to explore the scope of potential products that cannot yet be delivered?” In other words, exploratory engineering applies existing scientific and engineering knowledge to explore the landscape of potential technologies.

The history of spaceflight began with exploratory engineering. Advances in physics, chemistry, and engineering principles had provided the essential knowledge, and a man with a vision soon set out on a journey of ideas, a journey guided by quantitative dreams. This first ...

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