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« Beyond the Nanotech Super Soldier | Main | Make War No More? »

October 21, 2005


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I have just read the same story on slashdot.org, where I've sean this comment. Does that user have a point?

Prof.Murly Narla

Please furnish various publications available on Nano technology,Nano materials and processes.

Mike Deering

Matt, even through I too have some problems with the conclusions drawn by the researchers, the very fact that they have built this thing is cool. Whether the wheels roll on not, this is still movement in the right direction. This is like a bucket of gold nuggets and dirt. The fact that it isn't all gold doesn't make it worthless.


Maybe, in the best interest of intellectual honesty, it might be worth pointing out such disagreement with conclusions nonetheless, whether or not the work in question is a step in the right direction. That would only benefit the credibility of nanotechnology and CRN's in particular.

Mike Deering

Good point Matt. That is one of the functions of the comments section of this blog, and you are performing it admirably. I personally am not too concerned with the credibility of nanotech. It is coming whether many people believe it or not. What an intelligent person thinks about nanotech has more to do with the depth of their knowledge base than the credibility of the field.


It is coming whether many people believe it or not.

I agree, but isn't the main point of, for example, the Foresight institute and CRN to raise awareness and credibility for nanotechnology before it arrives? If possible, long before it arrives? If nobody except you, me, and one dedicated, resourceful organisation (today a state, tomorrow IBM) believes nanotech is possible, then it may be upon us all without anyone having prepared. That's exactly the worst case scenarion you are trying to prevent, and without credibility nobody in power will care to prevent it.

Mike Deering

If we take a look at a list of organizations that take nanotech seriously:

Green Peace
major universities
major countries
sci-fi authors

and compare that to a list of organizations that doesnt take nanotech seriously:

Red Cross
my grandmother

you may see that credibility is not that big a problem.

Phillip Huggan

How can sci-fi authors take nanotech seriously?

Mike Deering

Phillip, check out this sci-fi author of NANO


Phillip Huggan

(Sigh) It was a joke. :)


To continue playing the Devil's Advocate: I get your point about how the two blocks' members differ in relevance regarding the technical side. I suspect, however, that the former list, with the exception of sci-fi writers and Greenpeace, generally takes a more limited, technical stance towards nanotech. For example, DARPA and probably most major countries are mainly interested in military applications and the NASA in science and space exploration. Universities, as they should, pursue nanotechnology because they are curious of how to make it work. They all generally don't go a long way towards dealing with societal effects, at least not of this magnitude.

Greenpeace is known for being interested in MNT for, among others, societal and economic implications, which is a good thing. However, even if that attitude is short-sighted, in most of the world's economies nature takes quite a back seat to "big business". If large corporations spend millions to lobby policy makers, which most non-profit organisations simply can't, then the majority of new laws dealing with advanced nanotechnology might not seriously obstruct "big business", which in turn might present a large problem in the long run. Heck, that is a problem today.

Clearly, SF authors have always been among the first to think about future technologies and their potential societal effects, and nanotechnology is no different. On the other side, when has a SF author or one of his/her books ever had a major influence on the outcome of big policy issues and legislature?

In the end, however, the transformative power of nanotechnology might not be the worst effect, if everything doesn't spiral out of control. What use is a transformative technology if it is regulated into being non-transformative? It will then only serve to maintain the status quo, which consists of accelerating concentration of wealth into the hands of few. Periodic transformation is necessary to keep up with a changing technological environment to keep a society alive and well. An artificially stagnant society, i.e. stagnant by law, is destined to fail one way or another.

Mike Treder, CRN

When has a SF author or one of his/her books ever had a major influence on the outcome of big policy issues and legislature?

FWIW, Arthur C. Clarke has said that he was consulted about putting communications satellites in space before it was done; the first time the idea was mentioned was in his fiction.

michael e vassar

I think that the attention paid to cloning as a policy issue is attributable to Huxley's "the brave new world".


Finally NanoKids can commute on gold surface !!!
My friend said some time ago that the NanoKids project is a CRIMINAL WASTE of Palladium. I agree with that and I think that the same applies to the Nanocars.
In the paper they did not prove unambigously that they can actually move the "car" in a chosen direction. The fact that as temperature increases the object moves is nothing new. It will obviously move. They claim that the movement actually goes via rotation of C60-s, because the site can rotate around a single bond. So what ???
Who really cares ? What fundamentally new in terms of science did this paper bring ?
I say that not much. If there is nothing new in terms in fundamental science there has to be something in terms of applications. But the only application I can see right now is for the nanocars to take nanokids home from school.

Chris Phoenix, CRN

Do you know how many atoms of palladium are in a milligram?

Finding that a buckyball can be made to roll with a bond that acts as a bearing is a significant advance. It will make it much easier for people to understand that nanomechanical systems can be designed and built.



How many atoms of Palladium are in a miligram ?
Well every high-school student should probably know that, but what does it have to do with my statement which I still support : "Synthesis of the nanocar systems is a criminal watse of palladium"...

As far as Chris's comment about a huge advance in nanotechnology... Well, it has been known for a long time that things can twist or rotate around single bonds. That notion has been there for a long time.
Let me ask this again:
What fundamentally new have we learned from prof. Tour's paper ?

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