Friday, April 02, 2004

Bucky rage and 'imaginative commentators'

I haven't had a moment to blog during the NNI, but I'm collecting some wonderful insights from many different sources here. The speechifying doesn't interest me that much. I use conferences like these to take people aside and talk about inspires and worries them about the business, science and politics of nanotechnology.

There's a lot of material I need to go through, and it would be irresponsible for me to just spew out segments of different interviews I've conducted. I've had some great talks with NNI architect Mike Roco, Commerce Undersecretary Phil Bond, NNCO head Clayton Teague and others. But let me just give a couple of general impressions:

The "toxic buckyball" fish story was has enraged the science, business and political nanotech community, since it creates further misconceptions about the nature of scientific inquiry in general and nanotech in particular.

Physicists and computer engineers feel like the neglected stepchildren of the material scientists and chemists who control the purse strings at the NNI. This is a generalization that doesn't necessarily stand up to scrutiny, but it is nevertheless the perception that many physicists have regarding the priorities of the NNI. To me, it goes to the roots of the Drexler/Smalley disagreements. Chemists and physicists do not always speak the same language.

I'll leave you for now with a quote, followed by some crude digital pictures:

"The media and some imaginative commentators have focused on self-replicating nanobots as the archetypal hydra headed nanothing. This is wrongheaded. The most common nanosubstances, as we all know, are passive structures."
-- John Marburger, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy

Hey, did he call me imaginative? Cool.

NNI architect Mike Roco

The NNI's plan for K-12 education


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