Tuesday, August 01, 2006

'Real' nano irrelevant to PopSci

I have to chuckle every time this happens. Popular Science has a story on the old "nano bad/nano good" debate. The groups the magazine chose to represent opposing sides are the Foresight Nanotech Institute and the ETC Group -- both of which have been marginalized by the nanotech research and business communities in the United States and accused of engaging in dubious science. (In fact, you could argue that both are really on the same "side," if there really can be "sides" to a science. Both began their existence with warnings about irresponsible use of science and technology.)

Anyway, as I've been writing ad nauseam for years, the popular press and wider culture all but ignore the nanotech research and business communities that have been working very hard to marginalize Foresight. It is still Foresight, along with others who have a better handle on what gets the general public fired up, that has the attention of the masses.

The "legitimate" nanotech community should pay close attention to this phenomenon.


blaisemouttet said...

This may change as commercialization on nanostructured and molecular technology ramps up. Nanosys is currently applying nanostructures to form cheap and flexible electronic structures based on plastic rather than silicon substrates. Hewlett-Packard is working on molecular crossbar electronics that allows for reconfigurability to change one electronic structure to another. Nanotero is working on nanotube based memory that is resistant to electrostatic shock.

My prediction is that 5-10 years from now as these and other REAL nanotechnologies are brought to market and there are still no "molecular machines" in sight the media will wake up and see the Foresight Institute and other proponents of wacky ideas like molecular assemblers as the screwballs that they are.

Howard Lovy said...


I'm shocked and surprised at the strong language you use against Foresight, especially since I am a fan of your blog and learn a great deal from it.

As a former patent examiner, you should know, more than most, that today's screwballs and crackpots could very well become tomorrow's Nobelists.

About a century ago, for example, this patent examiner had a few screwball ideas ...