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« CRN en español | Main | Skeptical on Skepticism »

September 09, 2004


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Janessa Ravenwood

This is indeed encouraging. Let's get to them before the Greenies/Luddites do.


No one has alot to say today things are pretty quiet in the known universe.

Janessa Ravenwood

Well, it could be said that at this point we all pretty much know each others positions on most technical, social, and legal aspects of MNT. Are we running out of things to say that haven't already been said a dozen times already?

Chris Phoenix, CRN

OK, if our positions have stabilized, it's time to start doing serious work. I'm starting to work on something like a Wikipedia site for advanced nanotech. Who here would write and edit articles? Could you do it so that those who disagreed with you would still agree with the article? They manage it on Wikipedia, even for political topics. Can we do as well?


Mike Deering

Speaking of primary education with regard to MM, someone (perhaps us?) needs to get together and produce a line of toys for teaching the basics of diamondoid nanoscale machinery. We could start with toy carbon atoms that act much like the real thing, just on a much larger scale. The toy carbon atoms would be made out of molded plastic with four magnetic plates representing the valance electrons. The plates would have to be able to swivel and slide on the surface of the atom to achieve the various bond angles. Each plate would also have to have both magnetic poles so that they could connect to each other. I would prefer the plates to stick out a bit providing some space between the atoms so that you could better see complex molecular structures. It would also be cool if the atoms vibrated, simulating Brownian motion if that wouldn't drive the price up too much. A few other atoms could also be made, H, O, and whatever you thought would be useful. The toy atoms could be used to make models of diamond, graphite, buckyballs, nanotubes, other fullerenes, and machine parts; gears, bearings, slides, levers, etc.

The toy atoms would just be the start of the line. We could branch out into toy assemblers, nanobots, toy nanofactories, and games; board games, tactical strategy games, role-playing games, computer and console games, clothing with images of nanotubes, fullerenes, and nanobots on them. Eventually branching out into comic books, cartoons, movies for children, and music.

If we want to reach the public a most effective way is to do it through Wal-Mart. Popular consumerism is the gateway to the mass psyche.

Chris Phoenix, CRN

Mike, atoms just don't act like anything you can simulate with large physical objects. Tinkertoys would be just about as accurate as your magnetic-plate idea, or any other idea.


Brett Bellmore

You're not going to simulate the soft interactions with plastic toys, that's for sure. They're not too bad for modeling stiff, relatively unstrained covalent structures, though.

Wonder how hard it would be to build macroscopic working models of utility foglets? That could have some toy appeal, if you got the price down low enough for people to buy enough of them to model a usable amount of lattice.

Mike Deering

Chris, I know it wouldn't be accurate. We wouldn't be making models for engineers or scientists. Toys for kids don't have to be completely accurate, just have some of the characteristics of the real thing. Tinkertoys can't make the bond angles of diamond or buckyballs. We could put springs in so that strained bond angles could be simulated. We could make the bond plates align with concentric ridges to prevent mismatches. Marble sized would be good atoms would be convenient for large models like http://www.imm.org/Images/fineMotion.jpg Now tell me that wouldn't be cool.

Mike Deering

We could certainly make something that looks like the pictures I've seen http://discuss.foresight.org/~josh/Foglet.jpg of course we would have to get a license from Josh. How much functionality were you thinking of putting into the foglets beyond just being able to hook them together?

Mike Deering

"Wikipedia site for advanced nanotech." Count me in.

Brett Bellmore

Absolute minimum functionality for toy purposes, would be for them to have the range of motion, but be unpowered, so that you could hand assemble them, and then push the lattice into the shape you wanted, and have it hold that shape. You could accomplish that much using designed in interference to provide friction. Hm, a part count of 38-40, with five unique parts, would suffice to make an inert toy that would do that much. I could probably whip up a few out in the shop before the Foresight conference. Might be fun.

The really cool toy, of course, would have powered actuators, a fully functional scale model. But that many powered degrees of freedom wouldn't come cheap, and you would need a fair number of them to do anything with them.

Of course, Josh's design is a bit of overkill, you can make a functional foglet with just three arms, though four would get you to a functional lattice with a lot less foglets.

Brett Bellmore

Assuming you were ok with hand assembling powered foglet models, (Demonstrating shear flow would require a LOT of foglets!) all the actuators could be linear, and the cost of the model wouldn't be outrageous. I'll do some preliminary design work on an inert plastic toy, and one with powered linear actuators.


'bout the Wiki-esque thingy... As long as you give Smalley's et al. counterarguments a chance too, I see no reason why people would sabotage it... The worst 'they' can do is saying you're mistaken etc... And tell you why they think so...

Just try not to make this the gazillionth clash of ego's by making people against 'us' look stupid or something like that... Which will be pretty hard, acrimoneous feelings already in place, sigh...

Hmmm... Objective reporting, w/o wisecracks, innuendo's... pretty hard...

BTW: Now I'll hear R&R Highschool in my head for the next 24 hours!

Mike Treder, CRN

Now I'll hear R&R Highschool in my head for the next 24 hours!

Heh, ever since I posted the original entry, I've had the blasted song stuck in my head...


It might be helpful if we could update the blog to include "photos" as well as written text. I am not a Web designer and I do not know how difficult this would be. I have noted that Web links do not carry through to the blog's too. We perhaps will be able to see pictures of the toys and then comment on them for changes.


Okay today I have a question for everyone in the "group". As normal it is off topic

Let us move forward a few years from today and assumed it is 2011. The first diamond based replicators are available and for sale at Wal-Mart. The unit is fully self-contained does not require external feedstock can self replicate and produce useful product. Cost $1000 the unit connects via Internet to a secure server where products are downloaded. A wide range of simple products are available each product can be produced one time from the purchase of a one user one production license. A common household plate costs one dollar and a 10 terabit laptop costs $799. Once again the unit is self replicating with the download of a production license costing $1000. All designs are licensed and the network is secured from outside designs.

The first big advantage I seated to this scenario is a company such as Ford would have a reason financially to provide its designs and files for parts as individuals could produce new parts for Ford's automobiles as replacement parts as needed. As long as Ford received compensation from the MM governing board then Ford should be motivated to provide all specifications for its products. This would seem reasonable and carry through to all manufacturers of products and should facilitate a wide range and diverse list of useful products contained within the MM matrix.

So my question for today is given this scenario what is the first thing you're going to build ? and why such a product

Janessa Ravenwood

Todd: The first thing *I* do in that scenario is grab an eye patch, parrot, and cutlass, hoist the Jolly Roger, and join the nano-underground (alright, I'd leave out the eyepatch - it'd never go with my outfits). Those prices are so inflated that I'm not saving anything but a trip to the store and the electricity cost should make up for that.

BUT, I would know that MNT is demonstrably possible NOW. Not 20 years from now, but NOW. So to free MNT from this structure, I join "La Resistance" as fast as I can find them to help build a pirate version or crack the existing one. Then we spam the world with the crack or blueprints for the pirate version and the genie is out of the bottle for good.

Karl Gallagher

I like the wikipedia idea (Nanopedia?). Maybe the best way to handle the controversial issues would be to assign a pair of writers with opposite opinions. They could iterate on it until the strongest arguments for each side are laid out with links to opposing data. That will require a lot of patience but I think we can probably come up with people who are up for it.

Mike Deering

Shiver me timbers! I says we leave the landlubbers and MNT restrictionists on ye old planet at first light of the Singularity. Thar being no reason whatsoever for the chains they would a puttin on our own nanofactories mind you now. Arrgh! Hoist the mainsail, tie off the yardarm, and batten down the hatches for the time of gettin ye sealegs has arrived. I says "back ye scurvy dogs" to all who wouldst try to prevent the reasonable and just use of MNT for all manner of purposes and especialies makin stuff.

Chris Phoenix, CRN

Rxke and Karl,
I think the "opposite" writers to enforce balanced opinions would appear naturally. I'm told that Wikipedia works because each writer feels constrained to write content that won't be edited out by the opposition. The point would certainly not be to make the opposition look stupid, but rather to provide the best information possible.

BTW, if the site works the way I hope, I would not be writing most of the content.


Chris Charlesworth

I am from Adelaide Australia and am currently diong some research on science curricula in high schools.

Is ther a list anywhere of USA schools that include nanotechnolgy in their curriculum offerings?

I located the Apopka High site but cant find any other.

Chris Phoenix, CRN

I doubt there is such a list.


Mike Treder, CRN

But you might check with The NanoTechnology Group (linked above), because that's their area of specialty.

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