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« Cubic Micron DNA Structures | Main | More Fun with DNA Bricks »

September 24, 2006


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It is NOT coming soon. This stuff is at least 80 to 100 years away.

Chris Phoenix, CRN

Which dimension is going to be the one that takes at least 80 years? And why? Be specific, please. Or go away.



This is what always gets me, the optimists are too optimistic, and pessimist are way too pessimistic. There is far too much researched focused on the nanoscale to make 80-100 timeline make sense. If we have practical demonstrations of basic mechanosysthesis reactions in 20 years or so, you would see the floodgates open all around the world, because no one would then risk loosing out on MNT. Making 2040-2050 the absolute latest for nanofactory development. However if the most basic reactions can't be demonstrated in the next couple of decades, despite improvements to scanning probe microscopes, then the goal of the nanofactory will have been proven impossible. This is why I think century(ies) long timelines don't make sense, it is 30-50 years away or never for me.

Furthermore, from what I have read, the ideas of Drexler are not uniformly met with criticism by the establishment. The response is, I think, more like; "This is too far away to matter to what I am doing, therefore I will not give it much thought." I think in private many scientists would admit to finding these ideas compelling, but see no upside to siding with the MNT community and plenty of downside. Since we are not, in my opinion, yet at a point where there is a need to take a stand (i.e. current basic nano-scale research is necessary first step to MNT, and it is not clear if a directed effort would really help this early in the game), then why force the people making the first steps to support MNT? For most researchers this is a controversy best set aside for latter. The question is, what would it take to change this situation?

If CRN is going to adhere to a 15 year timeline, then there must be something so spectacular in the works on a 2-5 year scale that would make that kind of paradigm shift needed to happen. That would then leave a solid decade where everyone sees, and then works toward that goal. So far I see nothing like that it the works, instead there are many breakthroughs that are only POTENTIAL ENABLING technologies for MNT. There must be some concrete plan-of-action by the MNT community that uses these breakthroughs outside of the community to prove something *specific* to MNT in the lab. Only then will you see a change of attitudes.



Government expert: Nanobots 100 years away.

"A Dr. Andrew Maynard from the Woodrow Wilson Center for Something or Other just appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio and said that nanobots are 80 to 100 years away IF then."

Chris Phoenix, CRN

NanoEnthusiast, thanks for your comments; you inspired today's blog post.


Jan-Willem Bats

"Government expert: Nanobots 100 years away."

Oh yeah, it's well known that every technology takes at least 120 years to come to full adulthood, right?


Several decades tops. And nanotech is already 20 years old.


Some guy some time ago: "Planes one billion years away"

Ok, so I'm making shit up, but you can't make a reliable prediction not knowing what's required to reach it. You will either go very wrong one way, the other way or you will get lucky.


I've always found this one amusing.

“I confess that in 1901 I said to my brother Orville that man would not fly for fifty years.”
-Wilbur Wright

I also remember one that went something like,'I don't think man will master flight in a hundred years or a thousand years.' This was also by Wilbur, but I can't find a source on that one.

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