(Historically 2090-2150CE, 2350-2460CE maximum)
The Nano Era represents a mature fusion and nanotechnology-based culture. Much like the mid industrial Steel Era, this period was not one of great technical innovation, but of the refinement and spread of existing technologies until they dominated and transformed daily life.
Improvements in nanotechnological manipulation and manufacturing continued during the Nano Era. Nano-embedded composite materials added new flexibility and strength to structures, allowing more morphable and expandable buildings and vehicles. However, self-assembly and autonomous construction remained impractical.
Improved superconducting composites could operate at temperatures up to 350K, allowing "naked" applications that resulted in more efficient power and computing devices.
Nanofabrication units decreased in size from large factory installations to room-sized facilities as small as fifty cubic meters, allowing nearly all manufacturing processes to convert to nanoassembly and enabling small-unit and specialty fabrication services.
Protium fusion became the dominate energy source during the period. Highly efficient fusion reactors limited waste heat and scaled down to twenty tons in mass, making them suitable for a variety of large vehicular applications. These more portable fusion reactors often utilized meta-stabilized metallic hydrogen (MSMH) as a dense, stable form of fuel, requiring some energy to create, but providing many storage advantages over pressured, liquefied or hydrated storage hydrogen storage methods. True (non-CNO enabled) protium reactions became feasible, but only for large fusion installations.
For applications where local or direct connected fusion power was impractical, energy Absorption and Storage Panels (ASP) stores became a universal source of power.
Ground transport evolved little during the period, with morphable ASP-powered ground cars and trucks providing automated, high speed transport. Maglev trains traveling just below the speed of sound still crossed continental distances.
Sea transport for all but personal watercraft was revolutionized by the development of smaller fusion plants. Using water as a source of fusion fuel, seagoing vehicles of over one hundred tons displacement could propel their nearly frictionless hulls across oceans indefinitely at speeds approaching three hundred kilometers per hour.
Power density improvements lowered the cost of all forms of air travel. Fan-propelled personal aircars became cost effective alternatives to ground transportation, allowing fast subsonic travel over continental distances and personalized external access to the upper levels of skyscrapers and arcologies. Large air vehicles utilized fusion power plants and hybrid scram/rocket engines to travel at suborbital and orbital velocities, decreasing the cost of transcontinental and orbital travel. The first transorbital shuttles, capable of round-trip travel from a planetary surface to nearby interplanetary locations, such as lunar colonies, became practical, competing with beanstalks in cost.
Interplanetary vessels became more efficient during the Nano Era, utilizing MSMH-fueled fusion plants and greatly improved plasma, ion and fusion drives. Magnetic and solar sail technology continued to improve, allowing low cost, though often lengthy, reactionless travel in the nearer regions of a solar system. Interplanetary travel, settlement and commerce became practical economic realities utilizing these vessels.
The efficiency and scale size of ramscoop vehicles improved, allowing for realistic possibilities of Oort cloud or interstellar voyages at velocities approaching a quarter or a third of light speed.
Continued development of implanted computers and neural interfaces allowed for full VR implants, allowing wired and wireless connections to VR networks without external equipment. Improved interfaces also allowed advanced cyborgization, including “brain in a can” derivations such as vehicle integration symbiosis (VISBorgs) implementations.
Quantum computers became mainstream devices for data networks and larger data controllers in building and vehicular installations, allowing semi-sentient control and full personality interfaces for a variety of equipment. Computer sentience remained a topic of considerable debate, though advanced nodes demonstrated sentient behaviors and adaptability.
Personal-sized robots remained too small for quantum controllers, but continued to improve in cognitive and decision-making potential, allowing effectively unsupervised operations for most tasks.
Higher data rates and finer control of nanoassembly devices allowed for improved biological construction, including rapid development and cloning of tailored organisms and body parts. These procedures allowed the creation of more advanced and divergent artificial organisms and reduced the growth period to a few weeks for regenerated limbs or organs and a few months for a full-size Construct. Improved constructed organisms had higher physical, mental, and lifespan potential than natural organisms, including Humans, leading to social and regulatory concerns.
Advanced nanomed implants provided real-time monitoring and correction of biological functions, decreasing the risks of disease to near zero and slowing the aging process to less than half the natural rate, though nanomeds still required occasional replenishment and maintenance. Regeneration therapy became a less expensive, safer and quicker process, though progression beyond three regenerations remained problematic.
Nanomed monitoring improved the safety of hibernation techniques, lessening serious or fatal side-effects and making short-term hibernation an acceptable option for interplanetary travel or for remote victims of extreme trauma.
The struggle between offensive and defensive countermeasures continued at all theatres and scales of conflict during the period, gradually limiting effective munitions to small, fast-moving smart projectiles and limiting beam weaponry to neutral-charged high energy emitters.
From rapid-fire gauss weapons to scatter-shot deep space drone missiles, only the smallest and fasted projectiles survived the passive sensors and quick-reacting pulsed lasers of increasingly compact point-defense systems. Beam weaponry ranged from large nuclear-pulsed x-ray lasers, to fusion-powered fusion cannons, to personal x-ray lasers "rifles" powered by ASP cells.
Vehicles in all environments included robotic autonomous or remotely operated units, though human pilots remained necessary in conflicts with high degrees of electronic countermeasures, such as multi-spectrum jamming and active hacking. Robotic infantry and support units also remained problematic in these complex, ECM environments.
The Nano Era infantry soldier was equipped with intelligent powered armor, providing the endurance, life support and camouflage to support days of high intensity combat operations. X-ray laser rifles powered by ASP cells or gauss rifles firing high-powered smart slugs were the most common weaponry for close combat.
Neural stun wands and stun slug throwers became available during the period, but the requirement for skin contact limited their use to applications in crowd control corrections.
For some individuals, low-cost access to a full VR environment caused addiction and complete withdrawal from the "real world". Such social problems proved difficult to solve, but were often self-correcting as most such individuals suffered shortened, childless lives; the majority of individuals proved able to balance the real and virtual experiences in their lives.
Continued refinement of nanomed implants and other medical techniques allowed affordable cosmetic alteration and sensory enhancement for most members of society. Physical form, within reason, became a matter of choice, not hereditary. Transformation outside extreme humanoid parameters remained problematic and the cosmetic addition of limbs or organs often caused severe adaptation problems. Intelligent garments provided rich media adjustable styling. Clothing provided hygiene and waste management functions in addition to protection from the elements. Such garments often became second skins, worn nearly continuously in some societies.
Intelligent machines controlled most aspects of life, allowing full command of environmental parameters. Most homes included fully reconfigurable spaces, allowing nanocomposites to reform into new media-rich furniture and fixtures within minutes of a request. However, creation of new complex devices or appliances from existing nano-components remained unattainable outside vacuum chambered fabrication rooms.
World-wide travel via personal or public transport became commonplace and inexpensive. Most middle class individuals could afford occasional orbital travel and vacations to interplanetary destinations, though expensive, were not unattainable.
Improved nanomed implants improved life spans by twenty percent over Fabrication Era levels, allowing those who received regeneration therapy to achieve life spans of over three hundred fifty years and extending the life spans of those with just continual nanomed monitoring a few decades beyond two hundred years. Elder care evolved to incorporate less intrusive cybernetic assistance and effective end of life management that allowed full mental and mobility functions until the very last stages of life.
The need for human labor continued to decline during the Nano Era, limiting employment to fields that required judgment, empathy or creativity. Most societies either devised educational programs to encourage these specialized traits in the population or developed into two class systems, with social mixing and advancement increasingly infrequent. The potential to create improved Constructs with enhanced capacities often led to strict regulatory regimes, limiting such Construct's abilities, freedoms and/or reproductive capabilities and often resulting in outright bans on their creation.
Most productive individuals were employed either full-time, intermittently or part-time for often disjoint periods of a few decades, often engaging in multiple careers or semi-professional hobbies. Most societal systems could afford to accommodate unproductive individuals with basic housing, utility, clothing, food and health services and a small allowance, contributing to a universal consumer society. Long life spans and relative well-being normally led to low birth rates, creating demographically stable populations, often enforced by choices between access to regenerative life extension and continued birthing privileges.
Nano Era cultures could developed into true interplanetary societies with growing self-sustaining colonies on hostile and remote worlds. Terraforming techniques became practical, allowing for the centuries-long transformation of worlds, though successful efforts still required a long-term planetary-scale commitment. A Nano Era civilization required a population exceeding ten million to develop, but could remain stable over indefinite periods throughout a solar system.
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by Geir Lanesskog, All Right Reserved