When talking about the world of Pandora James mentioned that he “geeks out” on the why of science fiction. The manufacturing required to establish a society advanced enough to mine a rock and support the community than rise a host of questions. So how were these items; a dump truck as large as an arena, an armada of attack ships, and mining equipment all transported light years away. Simply, they were not transported. Rather the items on Pandora were created in a 3D printer. James mentioned he likes to know the background, the how of science fiction. Pre-fabricating and shipping so many complex components does seem like a logistical hurdle, even for a population that can travel light years. An easy solution than is to ship a single large machine that contains the ability to utilize the resources of a host planet to create all of these items. More importantly, James noted that this machine would contain the knowledge of the items it was there to create. From his comments the colonization started with a small group and a SINGLE massive 3D printer. Of course having only one unit seems like the wrong way to go, I would imagine that the first item the machine would “print” would be another printer; both to share the load and to prevent a catastrophe that leaves a community incapable of manufacturing needed items.
Suggesting that Cameron would understand this need is not so far fetched, especially considering that he started out as a precision tool and die maker. In a true manufacturing world is is a simple fact that items and components will need to be replaced. I found James’s admission of being a “gearhead” refreshing and took to heart the comment “there is something to be said for having cut some metal”. For a man that commands hundreds of millions for his projects James was truly in tune with the engineering and details that went into all of his projects. From the FEA and pressure vessel testing of his submersible, set to deliver him and two other pilots to the deepest parts of the ocean in the coming months, to the fluid analysis used to develop the hair movement and wing flutter of characters in Avatar.
As a general session keynote James did a fantastic job. Although he is not a degreed engineer it was clear from his talk that he considered himself a part of the engineering community. I can see why, as with many in the audience James was fascinated by all sorts of technology and he has used his success to pursue avenues he is passionate about. After the session he even took a few minutes extra (and delayed his press conference) to make his way over to the partner pavilion at Solidworks world to explore the Z Vision technology.
Z Vision, along with others partners, are displaying exciting technology here that gives the partner pavilion the feel of an adult toy store. It is a wonder James was only delayed 10 minutes. The rest of the day should be exciting for me and I plan to grab some video of the Z Vision which peeked James interest so stayed tuned.