Reader Michael Bernstein alerts us that best-selling science fiction author and scientist Wil McCarthy will give a free talk this Friday (13 Jan) in Las Vegas, Nevada, about the science behind his fiction and non-fiction books.
Here's an abstract of McCarthy's presentation:
Electronic devices are rapidly shrinking to the nanometer scale, where quantum mechanics dominates and particles become waves. Here, the distinction between chemistry, mechanics and electronics begins to blur. Case in point: the quantum dot, a device capable of trapping electrons in a space so small that they form "artificial atoms" whose size and shape and charge can be controlled in real time.
Historically, the properties of matter are determined at the time of manufacture, through careful mixing and processing. But now we find ourselves at the dawn of a new age, where substances exist whose optical, electrical, magnetic, and even mechanical properties can be adjusted at the flip of a bit.
In a 60-minute lecture (Q & A to follow), Wil McCarthy will discuss the state of the art and explore the future social, technological, and science-fictional implications of this "programmable matter" (download free PDF of McCarthy's book, Hacking Matter - 2.26 MB, 212 pages).