Are Star Trek style replicators possible?

Replicator ( Star Trek ) - Replicator (Star Trek)

Fictional machine in the Star Trek universe
Action element from the Star trek franchise
First impression Star Trek: The Next Generation
Created by Gene Roddenberry
genre Science fiction
Information in history
Art Matter converter
function Synthesis of organic and inorganic materials by rearrangement of subatomic particles

In Star Trek is a Replicator a machine that can create (and recycle) things. Originally it was found that replicators simply synthesize meals as needed, but much larger non-food items appear in later series. The technical aspects of replicated versus "real" things are sometimes an element of action.

Origins and Limits

Although previous science fiction writers speculated about the development of "replication" or "duplication" technology, the term "replicator" itself was not used until the Star Trek: The Next Generation used . In simple terms, it has been described as a 24th century advancement over the 23rd century "food synthesizer" described in Star Trek: The Original Series can be seen . In Star Trek, the original series food was made in different colored cubes. In the animated series (1974), different types of realistic looking food could be requested, as in the episode titled "The Practical Joker". The mechanics of these devices were never clearly explained on this show. The subsequent prequel series Star Trek: Enterprise The 22nd century contained a "protein resequencer" that could only "recreate certain foods" so an actual cook served on board using "a hydroponic greenhouse" that had fruits and vegetables grown. In addition, this ship had a "Bio-Matter-Resequencer", with which waste products were recycled into usable material.

According to an academic thesis: "The so-called 'replicators' can reconstitute matter and produce everything that is needed from pure energy, regardless of whether food, drugs or spare parts are needed." A replicator can create any inanimate matter as long as the desired molecular structure is file, but it cannot create antimatter, dilithium, latinum and (in the case of at least Federation replicators) things of any kind living; In the latter case there are non-canonical works like Star Trek: The Next Generation Tech Guide that the replicators used use the same technology as transporters, but the resolution used is too low to produce living tissue. However, other replicators, such as those used by the aliens in the TNG episode Allegiance, could create living things, including the brain, which contains many trillions of dendric connections that store memory.


The replicator is one of the most important technologies in Star trek Universe and is mainly used to provide food and water on board spaceships. This eliminates the need to keep most supplies on hand (although spaceships, starbases and other facilities still have some supplies on hand). B. If the replicator fails or an energy crisis occurs.) In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine It has been found that replication is used to provide breathable air on ships and ships as long as there is a source of energy for life support.Starbases (and breaking down the carbon dioxide exhaled by the crew) provide a seemingly endless supply of oxygen and eliminate the need to carry air tanks .

The technology is also used to make spare parts, making it possible to repair most ship damage without having to return to a starbase. Other uses include replicating Starfleet uniforms as well as everyday items such as toys and souvenirs. Replication is also used by the Holodeck program to enable food, clothing, and other objects associated with a simulation to be used or consumed by the participants.

Starfleet security protocols prevent unauthorized replication of dangerous items such as weapons and toxic substances.

Replicators can also convert matter into energy. According to this principle, the device can break down any object into subatomic particles. The resulting energy can then be stored for future use or used immediately in a subsequent replication. This process is known as "recycling" and applies to everything from dirty dishes to grown-out children's clothing.

Replicator technology, even if manufactured on a larger scale, cannot be used to create complex objects such as shuttles or spaceships (production workers felt that replicating entire spaceships "at the push of a button" would significantly detract from the dramatic potential). In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine- However, episode "For the Cause" industrial replicators are used to replicate large components of ships, shuttle vehicles, and other parts of this type that are later used in shipyards to build such ships. In this way, just 15 industrial replicators are enough to replicate the components needed to build a fleet of spaceships or to restore a civilization after a global natural disaster.

By almost completely eliminating material shortages, replicator technology plays an important role in the moneyless human economy in the Star trek Universe.


When the USS Voyager As it was dragged into the Delta Quadrant, it became clear that replicator technology was unknown to some of the indigenous peoples of the region. During the early seasons, the Kazon and other races made repeated attempts to preserve the technology.

In the Voyager episode, State of Flux, the way the Kazon aliens get the technology from the USS Voyager is a key plot point in the episode.

Captain Janeway feared disastrous consequences if this technology were acquired by a civilization before it was ready. Because of this, and because of the Prime Policy, Janeway refused to give away the technology at any cost.

Also on the Voyager meant the energy restrictions of the ship on the return voyage to the Alpha Quadrant, that the replicator supply had to be strictly controlled, which led to "replicator rations" becoming an unofficial ship's currency. This is also the reason why Neelix (besides giving the crew a moral boost by preparing fresh food) was hired as the ship's cook. Some ingredients came from the ship's hydroponic laboratory.

In the real world

In 2014 it was reported that researchers at Nestlé were working on technologies comparable to the Replicator with the aim of providing foods tailored to an individual's nutritional needs.

The physicists at Imperial College London discovered how to create matter from light - an achievement that was thought impossible when the idea was first theorized 80 years ago. In just one day at Imperial's Blackett Physics Laboratory, three physicists worked out a relatively simple way to physically prove a theory first developed in 1934 by scientists Breit and Wheeler.

BeeHex, an Ohio-based startup, received a 2013 NASA grant to develop 3D printing technology for long space travel food. They are now building food printing robots for later public use.

Cemvita Factory Inc., a Houston, TX-based biotech startup, is currently developing a photobioreactor that converts carbon dioxide extracted from the air into nutrients and pharmaceuticals along with hydrogen from hydrolyzing water.


In an article in The New Yorker from the year In 2016 it was suggested that replicators could be a "metaphor for the distant end point of the industrial revolution". They indicate that the in Star Trek: The Next Generation Technology presented changes the moral equation of being human, as almost anything you want can be created with one request.

They find that Captain Picard's favorite drink, Earl Gray tea, is made by the Replicator and the character frequently says, "Tea, Earl Gray, hot" during the television broadcast. The drink is then made in the replicator with a special visual and acoustic effect.

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