We received an interesting press release [PDF] today, that says:
World-famous futurist and the man who first coined the word, nanotechnology, will be a leading attraction among other top minds in science during International Nanotechnology Week.
Organizers of the international nanotechnology event held each year in Dallas, Texas, announced that K. Eric Drexler will present his latest insights the second day of the event, Friday, October 3, when he speaks to a crowd of nanotech business interests at nanoTX USA’08, held this year at the Hyatt Regency Dallas convention hotel.
As a researcher and author, Drexler’s work focuses on advanced nanotechnologies and directions for current research. His 1981 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences established fundamental principles of molecular design, protein engineering, and productive nanosystems.
And, if that's not impressive enough, the announcement goes on to say:
Much of what Drexler saw coming is being realized today, indeed he worked to create it. This field has been his basis for numerous journal articles and books, including Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology (written for a general audience) and Nanosystems: Molecular Machinery, Manufacturing, and Computation (a quantitative, physics-based analysis). And Drexler helped lead development of the 2007 Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems, a project managed by Battelle and hosted by several of the U.S. National Laboratories.
Drexler was awarded a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Molecular Nanotechnology (the first degree of its kind). Dr. Drexler serves as Chief Technical Advisor to Nanorex, a company developing open-source design software for structural DNA nanotechnologies. He consults and speaks on how current research can be directed more effectively toward high-payoff objectives, and addresses the implications of emerging technologies for our future, including their use to solve, rather than delay, large-scale problems such as global warming.
Put that together with the complimentary language used in Monday's press release from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and it looks like Drexler's ideas for molecular manufacturing are being rehabilitated/resurrected by the U.S. science community.
This all goes back, it seems, to the landmark report in December 2006 from the U.S. National Materials Advisory Board that called for increased research funding of such concepts, and then the remarkable work achieved by the UK's "Ideas Factory" in the following month.
Since then, we have seen denials of molecular manufacturing's feasibility drop off to almost zero, while more and more scientists now appear willing to credit Drexler for their inspiration. It's a remarkable change.