Thursday, April 17, 2008

NanoEngineering Puts On A Happy Face

A great deal has been written about Nokia's nanotech-inspired Morph concept on display at New York's Museum of Modern Art and online at MOMA'S Design and the Elastic Mind.

But I am more interested in another item in the MOMA display: DNA Origami, featured here in Scientific American.

The smiley-faced DNA above (and, yes, looking at it does put me in a better mood) is the work of Paul Rothemund of CalTech. In March 2006, Rothemund achieved what became known in the science world as "DNA origami." He discovered how to synthesize one DNA strand that acts as a "scaffolding" for hundreds of other short strands microscopically "stapled" to it. The result is a 3-D shape that can be formed into literally anything.

Mark Sims, CEO of the nanotech computer-aided-design company Nanorex was so inspired by the breakthrough that he decided to change his company's mission to focus his company's first product, NanoEngineer-1, on designing DNA structures for research and education. I wrote about his company for a Detroit-area tech magazine (PDF 158 KB) a little while ago.

Mark recently contacted me to let me know that the first public release of NanoEngineer-1 is only about a week away. You can see some screen shots here.

I first met Mark on the plane ride home from a Foresight Institute Conference in Washington back in 2004 (when I won the Dork of the Year Award) and we have been in touch on and off ever since.

I know this achievement has been a long time coming for Mark and his little company-by-the-lake, so I wish him all the best as more users take his DNA design CAD for a test ride.

Everything is animated
This little joint is jumping
DNA's Fellowship of the Nanorings


Anonymous said...

DOn't worry... it's NOT in the exhibition, so you didn't miss it. It's only on the online exhibition web site,

Anonymous said...


I think you've had some success with the press. See "Fun with DNA", from NPR: