Back in 2005, I had several long discussions / debates (e.g. this discussion) with two scientists, Richard Jones and Philip Moriarty. They attempted to convince me that molecular manufacturing couldn't work. (Richard Jones is the author of Soft Machines, which argues that biochemical-based systems are far superior to diamond-like systems.) I attempted to convince them that it could. The argument was somewhat frustrating on both sides...
In an online interview, Philip Moriarty has recently acknowledged those discussions as being the inspiration for his current research: attempting to demonstrate or disprove calculations of atomic bond manipulation and structure formation - including 3D structures - on silicon and diamond surfaces.
In other words, he's trying to learn whether or not Drexler-style mechanical chemistry works the way it's been calculated to work. This does not make him a supporter of Drexler, but it does mean he has an open mind. Open-minded scientists are what makes science work, and Moriarty's work is doubly valuable for its rarity.
(Richard Jones, by the way, went on to lead a group that was convened in order to allocate several million dollars of scientific funding; the funds went toward projects that had the potential to substantially advance molecular manufacturing.)
I'm glad to see that CRN made this contribution to scientific progress in the field of molecular manufacturing.
(Hat tip to Brian Wang at NextBigFuture.com.)