This is not Richard Feynman, but an actor reading a passage from "The Pleasure of Finding Things Out." I thought it was appropriate. Enjoy:
Saturday, April 30, 2005
Friday, April 29, 2005
It is a pity that Lord Broers has joined the parade of denialists who discuss distorted versions of obsolete scenarios to the exclusion of all research in the field since 1990. The Royal Society report twice misstates my views, citing publications in which I state the opposite.
For those interested in a brief summary, I recommend my essay for the AAAS, "The Future of Nanotechnology: Molecular Manufacturing". For more technical information, I recommend the discussion and bibliographies my website, e-drexler.com.
K. Eric Drexler
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/29/2005 01:49:00 AM
I know I've told this one before, but for some reason I just can't get enough of these stories about mavericks coming in from the fringe to collect their cash and have the last laugh.
The Mavericks: Patrick Soon-Shiong - doctor, pioneer, billionaire (Razor Magazine)
Soon-Shiong left UCLA to open American BioScience, a private development laboratory which focuses on nanoparticles, a science aimed at making injectable medicines. Through this research he developed Abraxane, an experimental breast cancer treatment that was found to significantly slow tumor growths with fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy drugs. In January of this year, the FDA approved Abraxane, opening the door to nanotechnology, and making Soon-Shiong one very rich man.
With the announcement, stock in American Pharmaceutical Partners (APPX), which will market and sell Abraxane as well some 130 generic injectable drugs, shot up 50 percent. Soon-Shiong, who is executive chairman and majority shareholder, predicts sales of Abraxane will run between $125 million and $155 million this year - and analysts predict it will generate $250 million in 2006 - meaning a hefty payday for Soon-Shiong, who is already worth an estimated $1.2 billion. More here
A Spoonful of Nano
Nanoparticles clobber cancer with sneak attack
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/29/2005 01:47:00 AM
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Now, I don't mean to lord my superior scientific skills over Lord Broers, but I do have an idea of "how to make an autonomous self-replicating machine at any scale."
It's a boy, and I expect him to be fully assembled by late September.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Lord Broers, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, 2005
Quoted in BBC News
Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1895
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/27/2005 05:21:00 PM
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
I just listened in on a news conference where Rick Smalley promised America some more Tang for its buck. NASA recently rained 11 million of them down on his Carbon Nanotechnology Laboratory at Rice University.
But is it really about space at all? At today's news conference, the professor said it out loud. His goal over the next few years is to "get to the point where I can hold in my hands an armchair buckytube quantum wire."
Looks like the space program will boldly take him where "nano-energy" failed him before. Smalley's previous attempts to rally the nation around nanotech -- through energy following the big blackout almost two years ago -- never really caught on. There, too, he used the national focus on energy to try to win funding for his quantum wire project.
This is America, of course, where the profit motive usually goes hand-in-hand with the progress motive. So, there is nothing at all wrong with Smalley advancing his own business interests through government grants. It simply needs to be pointed out.
So, finally, he found his funds in the final frontier. What really cool space stuff are we going to do with this miracle molecule? WE'RE GOING TO MAKE ... ARE YOU READY FOR IT, AMERICA? WE'RE GOING TO CREATE ...
... a power cable.
But the world's strongest power cable, made entirely of carbon nanotubes. (Which I'm sure Smalley's company would be more than happy to provide).
Yep. Well, Dr. Smalley is no John Kennedy.
That's not to diminish the technological breakthroughs this four-year mission will achieve ... for Dr. Smalley and his company, that is, which not coincidentally claims a dominant position in nanotube intellectual property, including this key one on how to grow the stuff. Smalley's company is waiting for the right moment to send out its lawyers against the competition.
Not all nanotubes were created equal, and the current, clumsy way of cooking them produces too many varieties. It's the "armchair" flavor that he needs for his wires and, Smalley said today, "we won't rest until we get them all armchairs."
The method to be developed is to grow them from "seeds" that tell the tubes exactly how they are to grow. To make each tube grow in a predictable way, well that would be much better ... for Smalley's business.
Not a bad way to get some government dough to benefit your company while also wrapping it in an American flag. He's making just one mistake, though.
Dr. Smalley did not ask my advice, but I'll give it away for free. I have a better idea for a project that will not only advance the science but will also capture America's imagination a la Kennedy.
Update: I'm glad I pointed out that Smalley's private company stands to gain from this deal, because his hometown paper ignored it. Remember, members of the media, don't be so awed by the cool science that you forget how to be news reporters covering a straight business story. Get out of this "nanotech is cool" or "nanotech is dangerous" frame of mind. That's the dog and pony show that only distracts from the hard work of real reporting. These nanotech players have had it too easy with those simplistic stories. What is happening now will set nanotech's course well into this century. Who are the players? What are their goals? Who's driving the vision, and for what reasons? Who stands to gain and will rise to positions of prominence and power when the nanodust settles?
Another update: Here's Wired on the nanowires, with essentially a one-source transcript of the news conference, quoting the NanoGod's self-worship of his "miracle polymer."
Company Plans To Build Space Elevator (AP)
Control Over Nanowires "Growth": An article from: Energy Optimization News
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/26/2005 03:31:00 PM
If you're wondering whether nanotech will ever break into something more meaningful than a few novelty items like stain-proof pants and extra-bouncy balls, the more interesting products are on their way, with cancer in their crosshairs. The VeriScan Biosensor System from Protiveris caught my attention today because of the company's claim that its microscale cantilevers are somehow related to nanotech. A closer look tells me that, yes, Protiveris has every right to enjoy the prefix.
A cantilever is a tiny "diving board." For liberal arts folks, think Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water, stamp out any number of copies, line them up in arrays and then "microsize" them. Then, it's time to introduce the "live bait." Coat each cantilever on one side with a protein, antibody or even a snip of DNA, depending on what kind of prey you're after. Then step back and watch -- if you have really, really good eyes -- as complementary molecules just cannot resist the charms of their sexy soulmates all displayed like that on a diving board.
The poor suckers bind themselves to the board, the board bends and, bingo, you've got evidence that bad little things are carrying on inside your sample. Here's a flash animation of the process.
Where's the nano? Well, the cantilevers are bigger than nanosize, but the bending caused by the binding is measured by the nanometer.
So in other words, in this case anyway, it really is not the size that matters. It's all about the motion.
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/26/2005 11:16:00 AM
- Is your company blogged? Once thought of as a trend, participation in blogs is now essential to your media relations. They have been leading the industry with their blogging technology. The easiest way to make sure that your company is taking advantage of the online buzz associated with online blogs is to distribute your press release with nanoPRwire.com™. More here
Umm. Sounds like a great idea. But maybe you should tell the bloggers. I just happened to bump into this while doing some research on the NSTI site. Or, maybe I'm the only blogger who's out of the nanotech press release loop. Can't imagine why.
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/26/2005 02:14:00 AM
Boy, the struggle of one lone nanotech blogger trying to make a living sure does occupy a great deal of space in the ruminations of a few large nano organizations with actual budgets and employees. What exactly is everybody worried about? That I just might accomplish what I had set out to do four years ago -- cover nanotechnology in a way that gets the general public engaged? I think I'm accomplishing that a little more every day. But, apparently, large nanotech research and financial institutions -- not to mention a Big Three auto company -- that could buy and sell my house and my neighbors' a hundred times over are hanging on every word I write.
Not offering me work, mind you, but just very, very worried about what this "downsized" bankrupt blogger might say.
I'm pulling an all-nighter tonight, so my perspective might be overly influenced by exhaustion and caffeine, but if I'm really as big of a nutcase as posts like the one above indicate, why am I seeing my audience grow among nanotech businesses, institutions, investment houses and educational programs? Well, anecdotally only, of course, they tell me that I make this subject interesting, entertaining and consider it more objective than those who write about nanotech while being a "player" in it at the same time.
But there's something twisted about large nanotech organizations that are quick to comment about what I write (indicating they do read every word), then stand silently, voyeuristically by while I go through the publicly humiliating process of trying to rescue my home (the blog plea was last-ditch Plan Z), then emerge once more to question my integrity for accepting work from a nonprofit think tank whose mission it is to help educate the public about nanotechnology.
I've often thought that I slipped inside the looking glass and into a strange, quantum world when I began to write about this stuff. Let me get this straight: The business and scientific communities writing about themselves is considered "objective," while a knowledgable outsider who helped pioneer nanotech journalism is considered "not objective." Curiouser and curiouser.
Now, here's something I never would have imagined -- a wealthy jet-setter with an organization behind him would go out of his way to gleefully throw pot-shots at me -- an unemployed writer trying to save his house and family. Meanwhile, I continue to spread the word to a larger segment of the population, helping them understand what the nanotech business and research communities are up to.
OK. Enough of that now. Back to work.
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/26/2005 12:09:00 AM
Monday, April 25, 2005
Turn off your TV! (By Azly Rahman, malaysiakini.com)
- Our children are bombarded with thousands of images daily as they sit passively in front of the television set. Their brain cells are slowly being turned into miniature advertising billboards.
These billboards become field of dreams and consciousness, turning the self into whatever the producers of propaganda wish them to turn into. These brain cells are conditioned by the nano-technology of smart TV programming. More here
I had no idea that the networks employed nanoscientists. As near as I can tell, these evil geniuses must have devised some sort of nanoparticle beam that can be sent through your TV's IR remote receiver (also secretly a sender), enter the body through the mouth as the victims snack on junk food, penetrate the blood-brain barrier and restructure our synapses into a pattern determined back at network headquarters.
That's the only method of nanotech mind control via television that I can think of. Then, again, I'm not very creative. Too much TV.
But I would take a very serious look at what Samsung is doing with nanotube displays ...
In all seriousness, though, the assumption here is that total control of the mind can be achieved through mastery over our neurons. While I doubt that TV networks that bring us "The Bachelor" and "Wife Swap" are capable of such sophisticated mind control, get ready for these kinds of fears to enter into political discussions in the United States, where the possibilities of "human enhancement" have already raised red flags in Congress. The target will be this vague thing they heard of called "nanotechnology."
This author, Azly Rahman, "is a transcultural philosopher rooted in the tradition of Critical Theory and Pedagogy." As near as I can tell from that collection of rather impressive words, Mr. Rahman is a neo-Marxist who crosses international borders to attack your children's brains (sounds even more frightening than the nanoparticle beam, to me). So, he approaches "nanotechnology" from the left, meaning he sees it as just another corporate and capitalist tool to keep the common man under control.
The religious right, of course, has no problem with using technology to keep the rabble dumb and pliable. But they'd rather not have the government mess with these obviously perfect bodies and brains that God gave us. Every synapse is sacred.
Look for a meeting of the "minds" between left and right on this issue, and at its core will be this "nanotechnology" thing, whatever that is. Is the Congressional Nano Caucus ready with a "nano is pants, nano is not 'bots" argument? And, if so, how can they distract attention away from one of the biggest proponents of human enhancement via nanotech: U.S. nano architect Mike Roco? But Roco uses a nice acronym for NanoBioInfoCogno convergence -- NBIC. Hmmm. Come to think of it, that sounds a lot like NBC ...
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/25/2005 02:33:00 AM
Saturday, April 23, 2005
U-M nanotechnology institute approved (mlive.com)
- The University of Michigan has created a research institute that takes a new approach to treating disease.
The Michigan Nanotechnology Institute for Medicine and the Biological Sciences was approved by the U-M Board of Regents on Thursday. Nanotechnology is the science of extremely small technology.
The institute will tap faculty from across the university, though the faculty won't leave their current schools.
Dendrimers could have cancer in their clutches
Nanostuff vs. nanotechnology
Iran accuses West of bullying over N-programme (Times of Oman)
- Iran on Saturday hit out at pressure over its controversial nuclear programme, accusing developed countries of bullying to prevent the proliferation of atomic technology.
In a speech to a conference of Asian and African leaders, Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Arif complained of the industrialised world's "illogical" opposition to nuclear and other scientific advances.
"Developing countries have reached great advancements in various scientific areas such as nanotechnology and nuclear energy," Arif said.
"However, unfortunately we are witnessing certain limitations and barriers to stop these countries attaining modern technology."
... Arif called on Asian and African countries to band together to claim what he called the "undeniable right of all developing countries" to gain access to technological advances. More here
Transhumanism and a Tribute to Fereidoun FM Esfandiary (Sam Ghandchi, Iranscope, Jan. 24)
Microtechnology pioneer Fariborz Maseeh and his foundation give $2 million to establish UCI Center for Persian Studies and Culture (Today@UCI)
Seminar on nanotechnology held (Islamic Republic News Agency)
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/23/2005 04:21:00 AM
Blogs Will Change Your Business
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/23/2005 12:40:00 AM
Friday, April 22, 2005
I'm getting caught up on some work now. Pardon the silence. I'll be back in full blogging mode soon. Meanwhile, here's a progress report on my first experiment in bottom-up molecular manufacturing. Apparently, this specimen enjoys dancing. The lad has talent. Pardon the amateur video editor's work.
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/22/2005 05:21:00 PM
Thursday, April 21, 2005
In this time of transition, I've been thinking a great deal about my brief 1992-'93 stint as assistant news editor for the Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) Times Leader. It was there that I experienced the first major upheaval of my professional life.
I headed for those hills after about four years of work at the now-defunct Haverhill Gazette, a smaller daily in northern Massachusetts. I get sentimental over my 1988-'92 "Gazettte period" because that was where I really began to learn how to be a reporter, working under the guidance of an editor whom I admired and respected. There was a "family" feel to the place -- literally, since I would sometimes take my newborn daughter into the newsroom. (She's now 13 years old. Yikes!) While I did my work, some of the writers and photographers would keep my baby occupied and entertained.
I moved from there to the ruins of Pennsylvania coal country because I felt it was time to make the transition to a larger paper with better pay and more responsibility, since I now had a daughter to support. I was brought in as an "outsider" to take over the copy desk, where it soon became apparent that my arrival was greatly resented. Two of the senior copy editors believed they should have been given my job, but the chief editors wanted to shake things up with some new blood.
Long story short, it was pretty much a nightmare from the beginning. I had to watch my back against the bitter editors I supervised, while trying to show my bosses that I was cracking the whip and making measurable improvements in the copy desk's work. I would stay awake nights, worrying myself sick over how to get my employees to like me, and my supervisors to notice the good work I did.
It was a hopeless situation, and I found myself turning into somebody I did not want to be -- a panting dog so eager for praise and acceptance that I tossed away nearly everything I had learned the previous four years. It was no longer about journalism at all, I lost this driving sense of mission to learn the craft and improve my skills. Now, it was a job. A middle management purgatory. A place that literally made me sick with worry over how everybody was perceiving me. My demeanor in those days was a great deal more "serious" than it is today. I certainly did not go around making wisecracks and emanating irreverence -- especially not to people who had control over my life and my family.
It's been an evolutionary process since then to get me where I am today -- more sure of myself and less likely to really give a damn about what others think of the way I practice my profession or what they perceive to be my attitude. Admittedly, I've probably overcompensated in my willful escape from the sniveling, cowardly kiss-ass I thought I was in danger of becoming.
Today, I'm probably my own worst enemy. But, like I wrote to a friend yesterday, I spent my 20s and early 30s worrying about what my editor or boss thought about my work, or whether I said the wrong thing to the wrong person. At the ripe old age of "pushing 40," I'm done with that. I try to let my work speak for itself. I keep my eyes directly on my core mission as a journalist without bothering to turn my head to the left or right to even listen to how it's being accepted or rejected by others. Some of my personal heroes are the ones who did not take the convenient positions of the moment, but stayed on their own path in the conviction that it will be proven correct in the long run.
And that's why I naturally float toward The Foresight Institute, a nanotech think tank whose members have always believed in the long-term vision of molecular manufacturing despite the way they've been conveniently marginalized by short-term nanobusiness interests. Oh, I've been critical of them, too, for what I've seen as their refusal to engage in issues of great importance to development of the nanoscale technologies that today call themselves "nanotechnology." Like I told Foresight members when they honored me with the 2004 Prize in Communication: "You need to remember that I am not your friend. It's just a matter of time before I write something that does not please you, if I haven't already. When I do, I hope you'll remember that I am only displaying the kind of independence that you all have encouraged in me."
This little blog is the only publication in existence that's dedicated to objective coverage of nanotechnology. And by "objective," I don't mean refraining from voicing an opinion. This is a blog, and blogs are all about opinions. I mean objective in the sense that I have no personal stake in any of the stuff I write about -- except that I'm fascinated enough by nanotech to want to continue committing random acts of journalism around it. But when all is said and done, I can decide to stop covering nanotechnology, move on to another topic and apply the same kind of standards of objectivity and readability that I have learned and applied throughout my career.
Foresight heard me, believed me and, even more importantly, placed enough of a value on the ideals of independence that its members took action to prevent it from going away. The Foresight Institute, its board of directors and the donors who make the work possible, including Larry Millstein who also sponsors the Communication Award, figured out a way to help me save my house from foreclosure. And it was not an act of charity. I'm going to do some "work-for-hire" writing for them to earn the advance in pay that their board voted to send me.
Instapundit Glenn Reynolds is a Foresight board member, and his support was key not only through the link he provided in his wildly popular blog, but also voting to help me through this crisis. My family and I are immeasurably grateful for Foresight's unsolicited, surprise, 11th-hour offer.
And it's not only the molecular manufacturing crowd that values my work. The head of a nanotech company that is very much into the nanoscale products of today -- in fact, has products on the market, also thought that I was enough of a worthwhile investment to advance me some money to save the ranch in exchange for future work. This, too, seemed to come out of the blue for me, and was unsolicited. The CEO, who wants to remain anonymous, wrote: "I believe that you perform a valuable service to the sector and would like to see that continue (as it benefits nano to have some objective journalism on the Web)."
Nice to get the affirmation from a sector that sometimes falls under my criticism. There are many other nanotech businesspeople and investors who tell me they value my blog because of its independence, and not despite it.
There are many other people to thank, as well -- the concerned readers who wrote to me with much-needed words of encouragement and job tips, the folks within the nanotech world who brainstormed ways to help me out and the family and close friends who were there when I needed them. I am deeply indebted to them all. And I never forget my friends.
Unlike my behavior during my personal "Dark Age" in Pennsylvania, I did not go out of my way to try to impress them or court their support. In some cases, I've been openly critical of them. And that's exactly why they want to see me continue this NanoBot experiment.
My gratitude to you all. Now, back to nanotech ...
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
I like to tell my colleagues, critics and interview victi ... I mean, subjects ... that I try to let as large an audience as possible in on our little nano secrets. Much of what I write -- especially on this blog -- is tailored for a general-interest audience, while also being careful not to oversimplify and alienate my more-educated readers. It's a tightrope I walk between these two worlds.
Then, I see how the real experts do it. Over at PBS, they make NanoBot seem as dry as "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer." The "Nova Science Now" Web site accompanying tonight's segment about nanoscientist Naomi Halas and her amazing, even explosive, nanoshells is a lesson in simple communication. The site says more in only a few well-placed words and interactive elements than all of the blustery, blowhard, unnecessary, repetitive and redundant verbose verbiage I read in most of the nano publications out there.
Here, for example, is how they explain nanoshells:
- "Nanoshells are hollow silica spheres covered with gold. Scientists can attach antibodies to their surfaces, enabling the shells to target certain cells such as cancer cells. In mouse tests, Naomi Halas's research team at Rice University directed infrared radiation through tissue and onto the shells, causing the gold to superheat and destroy tumor cells while leaving healthy ones intact."
Crystal clear. The copy does not try to impress me with an "I know more than you do" attitude and use of "insider" lingo that means nothing to any kind of audience that simply wants to be informed.
I bow to the superior skills of PBS's writers and designers. Public TV for the public. Hey, that sounds like a good idea.
Speaking of Frank Capra, today I felt like Jimmy Stewart at the end of "It's a Wonderful Life." I'll explain more later. I'm too old to stay awake for 42 hours straight. Meanwhile, whadaya say we start talking about nanotechnology again?
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/19/2005 10:33:00 PM
Monday, April 18, 2005
Hello, interested readers and foreclosure voyeurs. I still haven't saved the ranch, but I'm following up a great many leads today. Thank you to everybody who has sent me good wishes and job tips.
Regardless of how my own mini-drama plays outs, you can expect to see some exciting announcements from NanoBot in the next few weeks and months, even if I have to post them from the public library. The main reason I'm in financial trouble today is the time I've been devoting to new creations.
Pay attention. There's something happening in the media world, and the future belongs to those who can see it now, and act on it.
And there's one wildcard. In my Frank Capra dream world, an 11th-hour call comes from an agent who loves my book proposal.
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/18/2005 02:20:00 PM
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Medgadget reports on an Australian ABC story describing a new bionic ear ... (Wait. Let me pause here. How cool is that. I'm actually using the word "bionic" in connection with something real. If only the 11-year-old Howard, who really, really wanted to BE Steve Austin, could see me now. Let me just repeat that last phrase. OK. Back in "news announcer voice") ... a new bionic ear made with a piece of magic plastic called polypyrrole. The polymer conducts electricity and can host molecules called neurotrophins. Give that stuff a zap, and they could stimulate nerve cell growth. here as an abstract for the upcoming Nano Science and Technology Institute conference in Annaheim this May. I'm told that NSTI is really the only nanotech trade show that's worth attending. (Anybody with a travel budget want to send me there?)
Some grownups also call bionic ears "cochlear implants" (but the 11-year-old me could not have said THAT with a straight face). Scientific American Frontiers on PBS recently devoted part of a show to the subject. The show featured a young girl hearing for the very first time using her cochlear impant. It was an incredible scene. The series is hosted by Alan Alda, who has graduated from smart-aleck surgeon Hawkeye Pierce to smart-aleck physicist Richard Feynman.
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/13/2005 02:27:00 PM
I'm not sure if this is a bald-faced lie, but it's humorous, anyway. I can't access the Nikkei story. Write in if you know anything ... or even if you dont. -- HL
Balding men given nanotechnology hope (The Inquirer)
- Japanese scientists have created a substance based on nanotechnology which they claim will help sprout hairs on bald mens' bonces.
According to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, the breakthrough is based on tiny nanoparticles which will soak further into a bald pate than your conventional hair restorer.
A firm caled Hosakawa Micron has teamed up with boffinettes and boffins at Hiroshima Prefectural University to develop the solution solution. More here
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/13/2005 04:58:00 AM
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Small wonder Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology - which deals with the minutest of technological scales - has a big role in new exhibit -- Inland Valley (Calif.) Daily Bulletin
- Shouting their presence in loud shades of red, blue and yellow, artist and scientist Cris Orfescu's images look first like abstract pieces. The colorful curves, angular lines and sudden bursts that command the canvases appear to be the fantastical expression of the artist's whim and creative taste.
Then familiar objects begin to appear in the abstract renderings. One resembles a falling leaf; another could be a bird of paradise.
That exploratory process is what Orfescu hopes viewers experience when they look at his work on display this month in a two-man show at La Casa Decor Interiors in Los Angeles.
That way, when he explains that the images are actually what he calls "nanoart," showing colored images of such impossibly tiny objects as dust and dirt particles, he hopes onlookers will have a greater connection with nanotechnology.
"The whole idea behind this is I want people to understand a little bit more about nanotechnology," Orfescu said. "I'm trying to make a parallel with the macro world --- the one we see with the naked eye." More here
Laurie Anderson's spirit in the sky
The Art of Nano
Martyn Amos is doing some eBay sleuthing and found that Intel is offering $10,000 to anybody who can find a "mint-condition copy of the April 19 1965 issue of Electronics magazine containing the article that gave rise to "Moore's Law." Here's the eBay page. I wonder. Will that prize double every 18 months?
Update: Well, somebody has a digital copy, but either doesn't have -- or won't part with -- the original. The magazine is out of print and the article is difficult to find. Check out the scans, though. You'll need to squint to make it out, but it's pretty cool to read 40-year-old predictions that actually came true. Note to self: Reread old NanoBot articles in 40 years ... and remember to take your teeth out before bedtime.
Another update: The subject is being given the full Slashdot treatment.
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/12/2005 02:57:00 PM
And this just in ... 'Extreme Textiles' Come of Age (By Kenneth Chang, New York Times) Great story, Kenneth. Now do you forgive me for this? One question: Your story mentions "carbon fiber ... several times stronger than steel." Are we talking about fiber spun from carbon nanotubes?
Update: Kenneth says, "No, just the generic carbon fibers you find in tennis rackets and whatnot."
At last, the nanotech message is beginning to move beyond the cloistered world of nanopeople talking nanotalk among their nanoselves. This BBC News report contains the usual "predictions" about how nanotechnology will someday send Sally Struthers packing by solving every single problem in the developing world, from better farming tools to cleaner water to cleaner air, etc.
But the BBC report does not dwell on the "someday," for a change. There are also, finally, some suggestions on how to make it happen. The authors of a study on this topic recommend launching a separate initiative modeled on Grand Challenges in Global Health, a program started last year by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The 63 specialists consulted on the report should be given credit for realizing that these technologies will not magically appear in the world's developing nations. There needs to be a strong will to make it happen, a carefully laid out vision and, of course, there's nothing like a source of cash to get those nanotech labs and companies to turn their heads and pay attention.
The authors, thankfully, are not taken in by nanotech's myth of "industry." The nano world actually does itself a disservice by artificially creating this label. "Industry" implies some kind of cohesion, some sense of working toward a common goal. Well, the developing world -- and any other sector that can really use nanotechnology now -- will need to wait a long, long time for any nanotech "industry" to emerge and hand them the tools they need.
The researchers and companies that have the enabling technologies are all working in disparate, unrelated areas and going after scattered sources of funding. There's no reason why they should find one another and somehow decide to put together a care package of nanotech water filters and farm tools. It's up to those who care about the developing world -- and can raise the cash -- to gather together the right kinds of tools, materials and processes and create a temporary "industry" of companies working toward the same goal.
Without somebody from the "macro world" who is informed enough about nanotech to know which nano-peddlers to invite over to their office, the nano world will continue have fun with its Tinkertoys and talk about "someday." But nothing will actually be built.
A perfect illustration of this point accompanies the BBC article. See that list of "Top 10 Nanotech Uses" above? How many of these "uses" really exists as a product that can be deployed to the developing world today?
Yes, that's right. Zero.
Update: Boy, when I go to sleep, Great Britain is wide awake and contributing to NanoBot. Thank you, Richard and Jim (see comments below). A few updates: You can look at the PLoS Medicine report online here, or download it here (PDF, 220 KB). SciDev.Net (which has been doing some excellent nano reporting lately) has its take on the story here and the EC's Cordis news service has a report here. A list of panel members can be found here, according to PloS Medicine, but the link seems to be dead right now.
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/12/2005 02:42:00 AM
Monday, April 11, 2005
Nanotech advance makes carbon nanotubes more useful (PhysOrg)
- Researchers at UCSD have made carbon nanotubes bent in sharp predetermined angles, a technical advance that could lead to use of the long, thin cylinders of carbon as tiny springs, tips for atomic force microscopes, smaller electrical connectors in integrated circuits, and in many other nanotechnology applications. In a paper published in the April 7, 2005, issue of the Journal of Physical Chemistry B, Sungho Jin, a professor of materials science at UCSD’s Jacobs School of Engineering, reported a technique to create bent nanotubes by manipulating the electric field during their growth and adjusting other conditions. More here
Nantero sings a happy tune
When nanotubes meet buckyballs ...
Nanotube seller says nanotubes probably safe
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/11/2005 05:43:00 PM
China 'encroaches on US nanotech lead' (SciDev.Net)
- Chinese researchers are second in the world in nanotechnology, according to an unpublished report by a Dutch-Chinese research team.
The study compared the research positions of several countries and regions, including the United States, the European Union, China and South Korea, in terms of the number of papers published in nanotechnology journals.
The unpublished version of the report, which has been submitted to the journal Research Policy, has been posted on the website of research leader Loet Leydesdorff of the Amsterdam School of Communications Research.
The findings loosely corroborate the conclusions of a report the US President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) is preparing. (Blogger's Note: PCAST Powerpoint here -- 1.4 MB)
According to the Washington Post, a preview of the PCAST findings shows that Europe and Asia are gaining fast on the US lead in the field. The document will be published this month. More here
Wen moots joint panel for science, tech cooperation (Indo-Asian News Service)
India and China work towards dominance in Nanotechnology – it is the next outsourcing wave (IndiaDaily)
Chinese Competition's Impact on the U.S. (Small Business Trends)
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/11/2005 11:52:00 AM
Sunday, April 10, 2005
Can a Lifewave patch increase energy and stamina by 40% using nanotechnology? (Google Answers)
- I am the webmaster and publisher of the WorldWide Scam Network, a
non-profit consumer advocate watchdog web site. We are currently
investigating a company called "Lifewave" which is marketing a patch
that claims to increase energy, stamina and endurance by up to 40%
within 10 minutes of application.
This patch is non-transdermal - no chemicals or substances are transferred while wearing this patch. They claim to use nanotechnology and nanoantennas that communicate with your body "like a cell phone" telling it to create "more energy, please." This is their description as to how the patches work: More here
'Nano' for your aura
Why women shy away from careers in science and math (EurekAlert)
- Girls steer away from careers in math, science and engineering because they view science as a solitary rather than a social occupation, according to a University of Michigan psychologist.
"Raising girls who are confident in their ability to succeed in science and math is our first job," said Jacquelynne Eccles, a senior research professor at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR) and the U-M Institute for Research on Women and Gender.
"But in order to increase the number of women in science, we also need to make young women more interested in these fields, and that means making them aware that science is a social endeavor that involves working with and helping people." More here
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/10/2005 08:45:00 AM
Saturday, April 09, 2005
I was in charge of the Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) Times-Leader's copy desk from '92-'93. I'm glad my old paper is covering the nano beat now, but they could use some copy desk help. Here's a photo caption, but no photo. Hey, gang, I'm available pretty cheap these days.
Area colleges team to sponsor nanotechnology camp at the LCCC (Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader)
- Luzerne County Community College, Wilkes University, the Hazleton Area Career Center and the Crestwood School District offered an opportunity for high-school students to learn about nanotechnology through experiments, tours of area industry, interactive learning and association with experienced professionals. The program was made possible by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. More here
From Wilkes-Barre to Wolfe
Philippines to launch NanoPower Revolution
Not your father's 'shop' class
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/09/2005 08:10:00 AM
Friday, April 08, 2005
Well, ladies (or men), if you like 'em muscular but
dumb misinformed, come an' git him ...
New nanotech risk revealed: runaway green goo could be created by nanobiotech gone bad (By Mike Adams, holistic nutritionist, NewsTarget.com)
- The potential horrors of nanotechnology seem to keep on coming. Not long after the mythical grey goo threat was dismissed by nanotechnology pioneers, a new threat appears: green goo created by the merging of nanotechnology and biotechnology -- nanobiotech.
What is green goo? It's a runaway mass of self-replicating organisms created by biotechnology researchers relying on nanotech processes. Imagine an artificially-created microbe that can feed on practically anything, survive harsh conditions, and spread through the air. That's one rendition of the green goo threat.
Naturally, there's tremendous skepticism about these nano-threats, especially in the minds of those engaged in nanotechnology research or nano-based products. They say the threats aren't proven. But critics counter with the important point that nanotechnology should be proven safe before unleashed on the world, especially given the mere possibility of widespread, unstoppable destruction posed by tiny self-replicating machines or microbes. More here
Engines of Obfuscation
'Nano' for your aura
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/08/2005 05:18:00 PM
Research team develops gel to grow blood vessels (By Elizabeth Sabrio, The Daily Northwestern)
- With new nanotechnology developed by a Northwestern research team, blood vessels could be created to heal tears or blockage with a simple injection.
The team of doctors and students have discovered a way to grow blood vessels through the injection of nanofibers and proteins. The nanotechnology works by "self-assembly," meaning the liquid becomes a gel-like solid on its own.
'Bots get loose while professor is away
Alzheimer's: To test or not to test
News in a NanoSecond
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/08/2005 08:03:00 AM
Thursday, April 07, 2005
I've been enjoying your blog for a while now, and it's really helped put what nanotechnology really is into perspective. I think you'd be interested in this article:
slashdot today linked to a Forbe's article that poo-poos the political (framed as the "green-gang") attempts at fear-mongering "nanotechnology" into regulation. Already, some groups are calling for moratoriums on all nanotechnology. I think this quote pretty much sums up the feel of the article, and I think you'd agree with it:
"Nanomaterials are such a broad category, and I'm convinced that some will be hazardous and some will be completely safe. So if you want to paint nanotechnology with a broad brush, it's just not going to work."
Hi, thanks. The article is by Josh Wolfe, who is not a journalist, but is an investment guru who has an interest in pumping up nanotech companies, especially the ones he promotes in his newsletter, published jointly with Forbes. That being said, I do agree with what he wrote. I've been writing much of the same thing for almost four years now.
Pioneers with arrows in our backs
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/07/2005 05:52:00 PM
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
This Christian Science Monitor story, A tiny robot swarm - fiction no longer, weaves the concept of nanobots in with quotes from U.S. nanotech chief Mihail Roco, along with nanotube tennis rackets -- all mixed into the same nanotech pool, leaving the impression that each segment is in agreement with the other.
What's notable here is that no government spokesman even used the word "nanobot," so the CS Monitor writer filled in what he considered the blanks by adding the word, himself: "so-called nanobots," "shrink to nanobot size." He even inserts the word, himself, into a quote by a NASA official: "In a similar way, undamaged units in a [nanobot] swarm will join together, allowing it to tolerate extensive damage and still carry on its mission."
Here's the point: The American public believes that the U.S. is funding development of nanotechnology -- that is, the image of nanotechnology that they have gathered through press reports and other media, like the cartoon characters mentioned in the CS Monitor story.
The NASA swarm project described in this report sounds really cool. It's an experiment in how to get robots to act together. It has nothing to do with nanotechnology. The idea that this experiment will, as the story says, "shrink to nanobot size" is a complete fiction if the government's nanotech program continues the way it has. They have gone through great pains to tell the public that "nanobots" can never exist.
However, when they want to appeal to the public's imagination through stories about projects like this one, they are more than willing to let the "nanobots" loose.
Unless, of course, somebody brings up the possible dangers involving nanosized robots running amok -- then they "harumph" and deride it all as a bunch of fiction once again.
Is nanotechnology an industry? If you have to ask the question, then you've already been fooled by the hype hucksters. Time for me to chime in with my own analogy analysis.
If nanotechnology were an industry, then the ability to walk upright would be equivalent to running the Boston Marathon, skipping rope and dancing like Fred Astaire.
If nanotechnology were an industry, then chiseling a round object out of stone would produce a '69 Chevy, a landing gear and a yo-yo.
If nanotechnology were an industry, then we should pay our friends in the plant kingdom minimum wage for the oxygen they provide.
As long as nanotech business leaders think of themselves as belonging to any single industry, they're going to remain stuck in the Stone Age with a whole lot of useless bones and rocks hanging around their caves.
Any questions? Ug.
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/06/2005 02:27:00 PM
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/05/2005 12:18:00 PM
Church against technology to create human master race (scotsman.com)
- NEW scientific technologies should not be used to create a master race of humans, a leading member of the Church of Scotland warned last night.
Dr Donald Bruce, the director of the Kirk’s society, religion and technology project, said advances in nanotechnology - which involves manipulating materials at molecular level - could be hugely useful in treating people with cancer and helping disabled people to regain use of their limbs.
But he warned against its potential to create a superhuman soldier or otherwise "enhanced" humans, who could be made stronger, faster and even more intelligent. More here
Nano superhero is, appropriately, a golem
Evangelicals and Nano-Gnosticism
Congress is thinking about thinking
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/05/2005 08:49:00 AM
From: Howard Lovy
To: Daniel Moore
- (Georgia Tech physics professor Z.L.) Wang, 44, was awarded his second nanotechnology-related patent in
March. In five years, Wang says, it might lead to an early cancer
detection system, and in 20 years to "nanobots," theoretical
atomic-sized particles that could travel the blood stream hunting down
cancer cells and repairing damaged blood vessels. More here
This is your guy, right? Do you think he really used "nanobots," or was that the reporter injecting the word?
From: Daniel Moore
To: Howard Lovy
Yeah, that's my guy. He could have used 'nanobots' (he's used it before) though it does sound more like the reporter used it and ZL concurred or something like that.
Maybe I need to read the atlanta business journal more...
From: Howard Lovy
To: Daniel Moore
Is that "for the record," sir? Don't want to get you in trouble with your boss.
From: Daniel Moore
To: Howard Lovy
Oh sure. Feel free. He's out of the country now anyway :)
Monday, April 04, 2005
EIGERlab hopes to bridge nano gap (By Bob Schaper, Rockford Register Star)
- EIGERlab, Rockford's manufacturing research and business incubator, has become a regional center for leading-edge micromachining technology. But Tom McDunn, director of advanced manufacturing at the EIGERlab, has his eyes -- and microscope -- trained on a technology much smaller.
Nanomanufacturing is the fabrication of materials on the scale of one-billionth of a meter, or one thousand times smaller than parts made by micromachines. McDunn said few Rockford companies are familiar with nanomanufacturing.
"The general public has no idea," McDunn said. "There's a thirst in the community to even understand it."
McDunn hopes EIGERlab can change that by becoming an education center for nanotechnology, a place where local business leaders can see and learn about the technology many are calling key to manufacturing's future. To do that, he needs specialized equipment that could cost a million dollars.
One idea to secure funding is to expand a current study the lab is involved in. Working with the state, McDunn's team has been conducting research into the characteristics of microparticles -- the by-products of micromachining. He hopes the study could be expanded to include nanoparticles. More here
Learning a living with Luna
Nano is Sizzlin' in Tennessee
Come up to my state and look at my isotopes
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/04/2005 05:55:00 AM
An automobile accident in November turned Nathan Copeland of Dawson, Pa., into a quadriplegic. His grandmother Karen Bowser and aunt Judy Albert are planning a fund-raiser on Friday for a van to get Nathan to and from his doctor's appointments and back in college in the fall. According to The Herald Standard of Uniontown, Pa., Nathan is studying nanotechnology at Penn State Fayette. For tickets and information, call Bowser at 724-529-2754 or Albert at 724-529-2487.
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/04/2005 02:03:00 AM
Way back in July 2003, I wrote:
- "Greenpeace begins with the assumption that average people are powerless against invisible forces that secretly control society's agenda (it's where the political left always meets the right), without acknowledging that these "forces" cannot remain entrenched in the face of a society that rejects them. America is obese? Don't blame McDonald's. The Golden Arches can't survive without a public willing to march into their death chambers.
You want nanotechnology that doesn't make a mess of what's left of our planet? I think that's a great idea. Let's bring on the global discussions over how we're going to get there. But it's not a question of "good nano" or "bad nano." It's a question of how we're going to use nano. More here
- LUDDITES could do worse than lend an ear to one of radio’s great institutions, from this Wednesday. Over the next five weeks, pioneering nanotechnologist Lord Alec Broers takes the podium for Radio 4’s annual Reith Lectures (8pm, Wednesdays; repeated 10.15pm, Saturdays).
Currently president of the Royal Academy of Engineering and chairman of the House of Lords science and technology committee, Lord Broers’s pioneering of the scanning electron microscope ushered in the sometimes controversial science of nanotechnology.
He argues that what happens with nano - and any other technology - is entirely up to us, and it’s about time we sat up and took notice. "We cannot leave technology to the technologists," he argues. "We must all embrace it." The first of his five lectures bears the suitably no-holds-barred title Technology Will Determine the Future of the Human Race. More here
The Greenpeace Report, Part II: NanoWars
UK misses chance to defuse nanotox issue
Too late to stem the 'toxic bucky' tide
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/04/2005 12:08:00 AM
Sunday, April 03, 2005
A Nano Drug's Giant Promise
After a decade-long slog to FDA approval, APP's Abraxane, a novel, less-toxic cancer treatment, has doctors and investors hopeful (BusinessWeek)
- Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong isn't a big fan of the word "vindicated," but sometimes he just can't resist uttering it. And who can blame him? In January, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration approved Abraxane, a new cancer-treatment drug made by American Pharmaceutical Partners (APPX ), which Soon-Shiong founded.
During a 10-year battle to get the drug to market, Schaumburg (Ill.)-based APP weathered lawsuits from investors who thought Soon-Shiong was hyping the Abraxane's prospects, attacks by short-sellers who were convinced APP's stock would plummet, and even fraud accusations from Soon-Shiong's own brother, who was once his business partner. "People thought it was blue-sky, crazy, impossible," Soon-Shiong says of the new drug.
Indeed, at times Abraxane seemed like an unobtainable goal. The drug is a reengineered form of Taxol, a popular chemotherapy treatment used for some forms of cancer. Although Taxol is effective, it has such high toxicity that its label warns of "severe hypersensitivity" and "fatal reactions." The reason: Taxol has to be dissolved in an industrial-strength solvent that causes most of the dreadful side effects. Soon-Shiong's idea was to ditch the solvent and attach the drug to tiny nano-particles of protein instead -- an idea that had been tried unsuccessfully by others. More here
A Spoonful of Nano
Living on nano time
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/03/2005 11:38:00 PM
Saturday, April 02, 2005
I happened to find an article/comments on nanobot website today, thought maybe it's good to have a conversation with you in order to clarify a few things.
I understand you might have seen many products today which claim that they are 'nanotechnology' based. We use less than 20 nanometer components in our product. I am not sure how to prove it without disclosing our commercial secrets.
Next is OilFresh is a device for frying oil, not a oil bottle.
... I am not trying to challenge you with nanotechnology, but simply try to help not to mislead readers.
Thanks for your note, and there is no need for you to prove it. I believe that you use components that are less than 20 nanometers, which puts you well under the 100-nanometer threshold that gives you the right to call your product "nanotechnology." That seems to be the generally accepted criteria these days, which means you've earned the right to promote and sell your product as nanotech. And it also, fortunately or unfortunately, places your company inside the radar of every nanotech-watcher who approaches it from every different angle -- from Wall Street to the blogosphere.
I have many running themes on this blog, but one important one is my observation that commercial interests are driving the nanotech vision, redefining “real” nanotechnology to suit what is best for nanobusiness. And that's fine. I have no problem with that, and never have. In fact, I spent three years helping to pioneer "nanotechnology journalism" and was partially responsible for selecting what to label "nanoreality" based on who actually had a business model and a path to products. But, then, I witnessed something abhorrent to me along the way -- an ugly, mean-spirited dismissal and marginalization of anything that did not match the nanobusiness criteria. And it was done for such short-sighted and obvious reasons, I was completely baffled as to why I was one of only a few journalists who bothered to question it. And I've paid a bigger price for taking this stand than I have ever really indicated on this blog.
When I first began to cover nanotechnology, I thought I was going to cover nanotechnology. My naivette was, I discovered, an advantage as a journalist, since I came with no baggage, no preconceived ideas of what nanotech "is" and "is not." But as I explored the "nano world" and its internal divisions, I discovered that it was not only a contest of competing methodologies. It was a contest of competing "mythologies." "My method is correct, yours is a myth and defies the laws of physics." That's how scientists argue. There are no two methods. My world is my world, and if you propose a method from another, you are not only wrong, but you are also dangerous – dangerous because you spread "myths," dangerous because what you say is "possible" will be misused by those who would like to put a stop to all of our work. And the portions of the argument that are convenient for short-term business and investment interests to believe are passed on to the public in the form of pronouncements about what is "real" and what is "mythology."
So, anyway. Where was I? Oh, yeah. OilFresh. Sorry. You were a "target of opportunity" for a bit of sarcasm. You have my blessing to call yourself "nanotechnology" or "Sonnyohtechnology." Whatever you want, and whatever will help you sell your product. Gey gezunt. Just leave some room for a bit of the futuristic stuff -- like building a brand new, atomically precise frying-oil device from the bottom up.
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/02/2005 01:03:00 AM
Friday, April 01, 2005
Plug "nanotechnology" into Monster.com, and you get 28 job listings. I suppose the "industry" is a nano-monster right now.
Thank you for buying Emerdat 102 ProMat. We know it will give you complete satisfaction.
Emerdat 102 ProMat is built on the latest nanobot technology from Emerdat Inc.
Emerdat 102 ProMat provides various functions that are ideal for daily use.
If you switch on the device it stays in switched on state, you can not switch it off.
What is in the package
30,000 billion interconnected nanobots.
Emerdat 102 ProMat uses:
- dynamic furniture in existing homes
- temporal home
- body enhancements, body shield
Open the package and touch the grey surface with your palm. The first person who touches the surface becomes the master user of the device. More here.
Posted by Howard Lovy at 4/01/2005 01:30:00 PM