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« News About Computing | Main | NASA and Nanotechnology »

July 27, 2005


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Bernard Price

Small, self orienting, machines within machines, replicating themselves or what would appear more appropriately to be described as "growing" a product, analogous to the many biological process that create complexity from the simplest of inputs - sun, water and organic raw material. This is nothing new, much as other macroscopic products and technologies either by accident or cleaver study mimic efficiencies developed in the natural word developed after millions of years of "operating" and fine tuning ( flight, bone structure, etc.) to the responses/inputs of the natural environment. The development of true "nanoproducts" - not sure what that is but something with substance that is somehow a "fruit" if you will of the three impacts noted above. There are what seems to be endless claims and claims I think backed by basic research that promise amazing properties. Scaling up from the nanoworld dimensions may not only prove difficult for some concepts but also some it stands to reason will be victims of the macroscopic physics taking over and loss of the promising capabilities seen on the nanoscale. Perhapse most troubling of all as we learn the fundamentals of creation or evolution ( deference to your politics ) that we as well have an equal likelyhood of creating "nanodisease" and in fact if human experience is any guide we most certianly will hose-up something on our march useful/gainful products. Proceed with caution.

Chris Phoenix, CRN


1) Modern nanofactory designs are a lot simpler than what you describe. There are no replication or swarms involved in making products. The most recent Burch/Drexler design doesn't even require hierarchical machinery.

2) The scaling-law advantages of small machines can be preserved by running many of them in parallel. This requires redundant design, but that's a very small cost relative to the orders-of-magnitude benefit.

3) There is essentially no connection between molecular manufacturing and biological disease. Other nanotechnologies may be more risky in this regard.


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