Replication is the ability to create a finished product from raw materials quickly, on the molecular level. They can also “scan in” objects to create a reproducible blueprint. Replicators range from multi-purpose vacuum-sealed chambers with carefully modulated feeds of various elements, to single-purpose seeds that can be carried around and used anywhere.
Transmutation recombines matter on the subatomic level to create one element from another. It functions safely in an enclosed chamber, but can also be found weaponized as the transmutation beam.
Replicators spell the end of manufacturing; transmutation, the end of mining. Replicators also obviate the need for farming in many civilizations. Entire industries are wiped out by these technologies. Designing objects for fabrication is an important profession. Only unique works of art or objects under patent protection are of monetary value. Many civilizations build intellectual property protection software into their replicators, to charge a fee for the creation of items that are protected under law.
Most day-to-day objects are free, or nearly so. Public replicators can be found in most civilizations, providing the basics of life at no cost. This enables many people to “live off the state” quite richly by 21st century standards.
Most civs prevent transmutation chambers from producing radioactive or extremely hazardous elements. The majority of public replicators are actually fabricators – they are “write-only,” so as to avoid accidentally scanning in (and destroying) someone’s hand.
Replicators can produce living matter, including live animals and human beings. The citizens of most civilizations are wary of scanning themselves in, as the scan destroys their body. However, for some civilizations, this is an everyday event. Almost no civilizations allow the creation of human beings “from whole cloth” (that is, the fabrication of new individuals rather than the replication of existing people). Slavery issues arise too easily.
General-purpose replication/transmutation chambers are bulky and take up more space than the objects (or parts) that they create. Fabricating a yacht, for example, will take an hour or so and probably require some assembly. Large-scale industrial replicators can handle such jobs more easily.
Replicators require little power, but do generate noticeable amounts of heat. Transmutation requires more power and generates great amounts of waste, some of it in the form of ionizing radiation.
Seeds are not at all reprogrammable – they are custom-built to fabricate one and only one device. They may create multiple copies, but each will be identical. Seeds also require certain types of ground to grow in, and organic matter is preferred, as it more easily gives up energy for use in the fabrication process.
Both replication and transmutation chambers are staggeringly complex devices. Their processes are typically watched by a highly-focused, almost obsessive digital intelligence that seeks perfection in its creations.
Replicators reduce the time required for construction-oriented Projects by one time step.
Core Tech: Nanotech and Stringtech