Saturday, November 10, 2007

The scribe of Copernicus

"It is my hope that the discussions on Howard Lovy’s Nanobot are saved for future generations, because a lot of interesting, healthy debate went on there that probably looks, in form, very familiar to what similar public discussions concerning quantum theory, the heliocentric view of the solar system, representative democracy, and lots of other ludicrous ideas looked like. I get the feeling that the feasibility debate is over or, at least, it’s no longer an issue, I think everyone knows who the major players are and where they stand." More here.

Thanks, Damian. Thank goodness they don't burn heretics at the stake anymore. They just banish them to the status of just another crank in the blogosphere.

My point, however, was never that I believed or disbelieved in the feasibility of molecular nanotechnology. I approached it as a journalist, who saw obvious attempts in the business community to marginalize a school of thought for reasons that had nothing to do with science. So, I helped give voice to the marginalized, and I think I succeeded very well.

I'm not Copernicus. I'm the guy who wrote down what Copernicus said because nobody else would. I'm really not educated enough to know for sure whether the Earth really orbits around the sun.

1 comment:

somewhereville said...

And, on my side, I take a far more militant stance. I'm a firm believer in the possibility. That sounds like tough-talk. That said, I would never try to persuade someone on the feasibility without some kind of data, which we continue to work on. While the last few years of study have convinced me that MM/MN is certainly possible, it has also shown that there are many hurdles en route to the "official" demonstration, hurdles beyond what we can accomplish in the laboratory or have the computational power to currently model. As with everything, time will tell. I think the snapshots NanoBot provides are important, as we're in the eye of the storm of a technological revolution, one people will want to coherently document someday when the dust clears (either for what happened or for what not to do next time). Yes/No, good/bad/indifferent, everything counts. Copernicus had it easy, as gravity had performed the difficult task of assembling the parts. He just had to know how to describe it. The historical texts describing the times and publication of De revolutionibus orbium coelestium say just as much about the state of the world and our perceived place in it as his equations did. I find odd comfort in the many scientific debates we all had and continue to have about MM/NM. It’s nice to know the show’s not over yet.

Still reading,
Damian Allis