[Apologies for multiple postings]

*    GRAND Seminar


Toward Physical Universal Constructors: Materials, Processes, Modules,
and System


12:00 noon, October 20, Tuesday, 2009, ENGR 4201


Matt Moses
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Johns Hopkins University


More than 50 years ago the mathematician John von Neumann introduced the
idea of a Universal Constructor - a machine that could build anything
described to it, including copies of itself. Initially von Neumann
investigated a physically realistic design, often called the "Kinematic
Model", before abandoning it to focus on a more abstract formulation of
the problem. Together with mathematician Stanislaw Ulam, von Neumann
developed the concept of Cellular Automata (CA) as a mathematical tool
for rigorous study of Universal Constructors. The CA model has seen a
fair amount of success, and is currently an active area of study.
Progress in Kinematic Universal Constructors has lagged behind, although
the field has seen a resurgence in activity in recent years. This talk
begins with a brief historical overview of Universal Constructors and
Self-Replicating Machines. We then present some recent results from our
lab: a network of materials and fabrication processes designed to
facilitate self-replication, a set of universal electromechanical
modules, and some larger scale system designs. The talk is concluded
with a discussion of some open questions that may be of interest to
those with a Computer Science background.

*Short Bio*

Matt Moses is currently a doctoral student in Professor Greg
Chirikjian's lab at the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Johns
Hopkins University. Mr. Moses holds a M.S degree in Mechanical
Engineering from University of New Mexico, and from 2001-2005 worked as
an engineer for General Dynamics Robotic Systems in Westminster,
Maryland. Mr. Moses's research interests include self-replicating and
universal-constructing machines, biologically-inspired robotics, and
dynamic running and locomotion in robot vehicles.

*Jyh-Ming Lien*
Assistant Professor, George Mason University