In science, the acceptance of new ideas follows a predictable, four-stage sequence.
In Stage 1, skeptics confidently proclaim that the idea is impossible because it violates the Laws of Science. This stage can last from years to centuries, depending on how much the idea challenges conventional wisdom.
In Stage 2, skeptics reluctantly concede that the idea is possible, but it is not very interesting and the claimed effects are extremely weak.
Stage 3 begins when the mainstream realizes that the idea is not only important, but its effects are much stronger and more pervasive than previously imagined.
Stage 4 is achieved when the same critics who used to disavow any interest in the idea begin to proclaim that they thought of it first. Eventually, no one remembers that the idea was once considered a dangerous heresy.
For advanced nanotechnology, it took a long time to get through Stage 1, but it looks like we are now transitioning into Stage 2.
During CRN's early years (2003-2004), a common response to our claims about the looming implications of nanotech was that we were wrong, because molecular manufacturing was simply impossible.
How long until we get to Stage 3?
We hope not very long, because until we reach a tipping point with the mainstream, there won't be enough momentum to get adequate preparations started. (On the other hand, it's likely that Stage 4 will begin occuring soon after Stage 3 is reached.)
Every revolutionary idea seems to evoke three stages of reaction. They may be summed up by the phrases: (1) It's completely impossible. (2) It's possible, but it's not worth doing. (3) I said it was a good idea all along.