Something I've always enjoyed in Science Fiction are the gadgets. From the replicator to the light saber, its all pretty neat. For the most part, these gadgets are taken for granted as working standards and they neither enjoyed nor interesting to the main cast. Really, that's fair. I have a 3 year old computer sitting next to me with a 12gig ram drive that i dump games on for load-less awesomeness...not terribly exciting anymore.
What rarely happens in shows are the prototypes. Sure, once in a while an episode of something will have a fancy new prototype that just happens to work exactly when they need it to and now the plot is complete. yay, roll credits.
I don't want to see the first prototype, where it explodes the moment they turn it on (okay, once in a while I do). I want to see the first working prototype, something that is just so odd that it doesn't even resemble the end product for a science fiction show. So, I bring you replicators...more or less.
I tend to ponder a lot, if you hadn't noticed. At some point I wondered what the first replicator would have been like. Surely they weren't the in-wall unit that exists in Star Trek. If it's like everything else in this world, it would have been massive, clumsy and next to useless.
Given certain elements in my series, I decided to come up with a similar solution to food. However, since this story starts in modern times, I started the technology at the prototype level. Food is processed in large vats where the core elements are broken down into a sludge. Then, through the magic of behind-the-scenes, the vats of sludge are broken down into atoms and recombined to make basic foods. all the while, the scientists involved in this project take turns running the kitchen, to make sure foods tastes the way should. when they dont, they can tweak here and there and taste again.
Is this how replicators in star trek work? i have absolutely no idea. I just looked at the idea, realized that it was the ONLY reasonable, logical idea for long distance space travel, came up with my own concept and then set to writing it from the beginning. I also plan to do this with a great deal of other things.