Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The business of imagination

Why nanotechnology is next big thing (Financial Times)

    JurvetsonNanotech has had a bad press of late. You could blame Michael Crichton, whose novel Swarm (Blogger's note: See this post) imagined a world overrun with self-replicating "nanobots", or microscopic robots. Or you could put it down to the imaginative leap that is so hard for most people to make: to a time when tiny machines self-replicate, "space elevators" using carbon nanotube cables to pull ships into orbit, and almost any man-made product will be created from little more than a handful of dirt.

    This is the futuristic world which, says Mr (Steve) Jurvetson, business visionaries must start to imagine. Who knows in exactly what form it will arrive, or when. But those in the forefront should be best placed to profit. The current reality of nanotech, by contrast, seems altogether more prosaic. The silicon chip industry has already started engineering components measuring less than 100 nanometres across - or one ten-millionth of a metre. Some bulk industrial materials are also the result of production at the molecular level.

    Subsequent products of the nanotech revolution, says Mr Jurvetson, will become apparent in the next three to five years: more efficient solar cells, cheaper sensors, television screens created by new industrial processes, and memory chips with exponentially more capacity. Linking developments such as these with the more outlandish world imagined by the futurologists involves a leap of the imagination that is not easy to make, he concedes. But his message to entrepreneurs is: do not be afraid to think big, and to anticipate a future that may still seem far-fetched. More here (subscription required)

NanoBot Backgrounder
How to fight misinformation in two easy words: Honesty, imagination
Steve Jurvetson sings the carbon electric
Images of the possible
Three Nano Kings
We all live in a nano submarine
Choose your own 'irrational' scenario

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