Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Ruff on the environment

thurston_1   thurston_2

My dog, Thurston, is a collar-carrying member of the Green Party. Yesterday, he was pawing through the latest issue of Utne Reader, which contained a short article informing its readers of the now-ritualistic leftist line that buckyballs are bad (just as "war is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength"). Thurston, being a mutt of passion, bounded out to the yard, grabbed his exact-replica buckyball model (the first toy I bought for him as a puppy) and decided to "save the fish" by tearing it apart.

I tried to intervene. I told him that I, too, am concerned about the environment and that I'm also a liberal, yet the party line is totally wrong on this one -- confusing the possible cure for another symptom of the disease. They're so busy weaving corporate/government conspiracy theories that they can't see that the science is neutral, and tools like the buckyball can be used to further their own agendas -- like treating and curing diseases in developing nations.

Then, of course, the argument degenerated into a tug-of-war (I captured images of the event using my Motorola camera phone, above). "Buckyball bad," Thurston said. "Buckyball good," I said. "Buckyball bad," Thurston said. "Buckyball good," I said. ...

It continued like that for a while until I finally tossed the buckyball around the yard a few times, he fetched it a few times, I gave him a treat and the incident was forgotten. Thurston may be a bit misinformed, but he's really a good boy.

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Monday, June 28, 2004

Prizes, Prizes, Prizes


First off, congratulations on the birth of your son, Maxwell. I enjoyed seeing his development on your blog. I look forward to regular updates on your self-replication.

I am working with Mark Brandt of the Maple Fund in Cleveland in promoting NANO Week in October. As part of NANO Week we're going to be hosting what we believe is the first nanotechnology business idea competition. There's more than $75,000 in prize money at stake.

I know that a Blog like yours could really help us spread the word to researchers. We want to get the word to as many researchers as possible that we are now accepting submissions for the competition. The deadline is Sept. 1, so we want to get the word out over the next few months.

We think this competition is a great way to encourage researchers who haven't yet had a chance to put together a business plan, to get some financial support for their most promising ideas.

Full rules and details are available at: http://www.nano-network.org/competition/Rules

Many thanks and good luck managing job, blog and family.

Best wishes,
Chris Thompson

Thank you, Chris,

It's unbelievable to me what a good baby I have. Not too fussy. I guess that will happen when he gets older like his dad.


Sunday, June 27, 2004

Buy-in-the-sky scheme

A carbon-nanotube elevator to the stars. It's funny to me sometimes what is considered legitimate enough for government -- or NASA -- funding and what is not. I say more power to Liftport. I'll be on the ... second ... elevator outta here. Here's a RealOne Player link to an Associated Press video on the nanotube elevator plan.

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Friday, June 25, 2004

Mars Needs NanoMoney

Neil Gordon, president of the Canadian NanoBusiness Alliance, head of the CANEUS commercialization committee and an all-around knowledgable nano guy, once told me that a Canadian astronomer pointed out "it was colder in Canada than on Mars! We didn`t need a billion dollar space program to figure that out." Neil does, however, have a few suggestions on where and how space money should be spent in his column over at Small Times. Here's an excerpt:

    "I believe that the time has come for micro and nanotechnology to evolve from science projects and technology-pushed orphan applications into enabling platforms for mainstream industries. And this can be accomplished through a collective process where leading market-driven application developers define the specifications and standards for creative scientists and entrepreneurs to fulfill.

    "Micro and nanotechnologies can become the semiconductor industry of the 21st century, with an equally powerful effect on major industries, and in particular, on the aerospace industry.

    "Aerospace is the ideal beneficiary of miniaturized technologies because of its continuing drive for systems with lower mass and power consumption. With a manned mission to Mars driving change, we could see improvements extended beyond the systems level to micro and nanotechnologies, since these platforms can be the lowest common denominator in virtually every new high-tech aerospace end product." More here.

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Nano knowledge going south? Blame Canada!
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NanoFuture vs. NanoNow

Daniel Moore, a budding young nanoscientist at Georgia Tech, has an excellent commentary on his blog regarding molecular manufacturing theory and the nanotech he's engaged in every day.

    "MAYBE I just don't spend enough time around business and government leaders talking nano. Maybe I just spend way to much time at scientific conferences and talking with researchers about nanotechnology and the sciences behind it. Because (though I do I appreciate the PR that must be waged so that "nano" isn't treated with abject disgust the way that, say, something like "diesel" or "nuclear" is) we aren't quite at the level where we are considering whether it is useful to have autonomous self-replicators. Many of the researchers in the field simply don't think that it has been shown to even be possible on a significant scale (by this I mean, outside of very specific controlled environments - like the human body or other biological spaces). Many of us read the article by Richard Smalley in Scientific American and saw a very good argument on Smalley's side, saying just this thing. But, though this may help the PR game that is being played, it doesn't do much to help those of us in the field doing research. It's all great to talk about molecular manufacturing and nanofactory but we're still trying to figure out how to make only metallic (or semi-conducting) nanotubes." More here.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

More on Mooney, etc.

From the National Post of Canada:

    "The leading extremist on the growing nanowar is Pat Mooney, executive director of the ETC Group in Winnipeg. Mr. Mooney appears in the Financial Times article below as just another cautious guy who agrees that while there are potentially big benefits, he just wants to make sure we do things carefully. "If people are too blase about nanotechnology and it gets off on the wrong foot, then it's a problem," he said.

    "Elsewhere, however, Mr. Mooney and his ETC Group are major agents provocateurs dedicated to bringing a halt to nanotechnology development. "How may warnings," says the ETC Group, "do government regulators require before they take action to ensure that uses of nanoparticles are safe before workers in production facilities are harmed and before consumers are further exposed?" Mr. Mooney doesn't want precaution; he wants shutdown." More here.



"The Institute of Physics releases some of the most beautiful science images of the year so far, a collection of photomicrographs of tiny “flowers” and “trees” less than one thousandth the width of a human hair. The images are published in the Institute journal Nanotechnology.

"These stunning images were taken by Ghim Wei Ho, a PhD student studying nanotechnology at Cambridge University. She has named some of her best photographs nanobouquet, nanotrees, and nanoflower because of their curious similarity to familiar organic structures such as flower-heads and tiny growing trees.

"Ghim Wei's work involves making new types of materials based on nanotechnology and these flowers are an example of such a new material. Here, nanometre scale wires (about one thousandth the diameter of a human hair) of a silicon-carbon material (silicon carbide) are grown from tiny droplets of a liquid metal (Gallium) on a silicon surface, like the chips inside our home computers." More here

Update: Roland Piquepaille sends us a whole bouquet.

Would you could you in the dark?

Monday, June 21, 2004


Would-be nano undergrads meet their Waterloo

Students' minds raised by Phoenix

Israel nano has Georgia on its mind

Dem Nano

Here's an excerpt from Sen. Kerry's remarks in Colorado:

    "Second, we need to invest in science and new technologies that may help cure diseases, start great new industries and deepen our understanding of the world in which we live. That's why I will increase our funding to the National Institutes of Health (news - web sites), the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and other important agencies and initiatives that promote crucial research. These advances have the opportunity to do so much good in the world and new technologies like nanotechnology and clean energy have the potential to transform the American economy. Nationally, Colorado ranks 8th in the total number of nanotech firms." More here
Update: Nobel Winners Back Kerry, Say Bush Ignores Science

Thursday, June 17, 2004


kid1   kid2   kid3


I've proven the feasibility of molecular self-replication. His name is Maxwell Leland Lovy (pictured here in various stages of the 40-week self-assembly process and at the age of 3 hours). Max is my healthy 9-pound, 15-ounce, 22-inch proof of the concept that when it comes to true understanding of the engines that drive creation, we are all merely infants.

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Friday, June 11, 2004

Busy Self-Replicating

Eric Drexler may say gray goo is unlikely, but I'm trying my own gray goo-goo experiment. I'm busy self-replicating and on paternity leave until June 28. My son's 9-pound ass is due to come screaming into this world any day now (Monday at the latest, when they'll induce.) I'll probably be blogging now and then, but for the most part I'll be doing some serious reflection on where exactly I'm going with some of the nanotech issues I've been writing about in this space for the past year. It's clearly not Small Times material, and there's only so far a blog can go. Time to pause, reflect, regroup and enjoy my family for a little while.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

'Mongrel dogs who teach' *

You wanna see some good-old-fashioned viral ignorance masquerading as a "teach-in"? You'll need RealPlayer to access this video from indybay.org. The video, produced by, who else, ETC Group, is a classic mix of selective information and fiction that drops names ranging from Eric Drexler to MIT researcher Angela Belcher.

Singling out Belcher as a stooge of the corporate NanoBioAgriPharmaGlobaIMF plot is particularly amusing. One speaker takes offense at the fact that this evil woman in the white lab coat, and others like her, have the nerve to use materials and processes found in nature (for whom the teach-inners are the self-appointed spokesmen) in their plot to subjugate the segment of the intelligentsia who so clearly speak for the rights of working farmers and viruses everywhere.

Wait for it. They'll be demonstrating outside your headquarters soon, and good luck engaging them in intelligent discourse. They won't be interested in the real possibilities of the science because they're already convinced you're hiding something.

Oh well. Don't say I didn't warn you.

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* It's a Bob Dylan song reference.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Gray Goo Who?

This just in:

    Eric Drexler, known as the father of nanotechnology, today (Wednesday, 9th June 2004) publishes a paper that admits that self-replicating machines are not vital for large-scale molecular manufacture, and that nanotechnology-based fabrication can be thoroughly non-biological and inherently safe. Talk of runaway self-replicating machines, or “grey goo”, which he first cautioned against in his book Engines of Creation in 1986, has spurred fears that have long hampered rational public debate about nanotechnology. Writing in the Institute of Physics journal Nanotechnology, Drexler slays the myth that molecular manufacture must use dangerous self-replicating machines.

    “Runaway replicators, while theoretically possible according to the laws of physics, cannot be built with today’s nanotechnology toolset,” says Dr. Drexler, founder of the Foresight Institute, in California, and Senior Research Fellow of the Molecular Engineering Research Institute (MERI). He continued: “Self-replicating machines aren't necessary for molecular nanotechnology, and aren’t part of current development plans.”

    ... Science fiction writers focused on this idea, and ‘grey goo’ became closely associated with nanotechnology, spreading a serious misconception about molecular manufacturing systems and diverting attention from more pressing concerns. This new paper shows why that focus is wrong.

    The authors explain why self-replication, contrary to previous understanding, is unnecessary for building an efficient and effective molecular manufacturing system. Instead of building lots of tiny, complex, free-floating robots to manufacture products, it will be more practical to use simple robot-arms in larger factories, like today’s assembly lines. A robot-arm pulled from a factory would be as inert as a light bulb pulled from its socket. And the factory as a whole would be no more mobile than a desktop printer, besides requiring a supply of purified raw materials to build anything. Even the process of developing the factories would not make anything remotely like a runaway replicator - the early machines would be tools, unable to operate by themselves.

More here

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¡Venezuelan Nano Champ!

Dear Mr. Lovy,

I want to thank you for your note in your blog, it was great!

Here is the link when you can find the presentation for my project "Nanoparticles Technology - Basic Concepts and Proposal of Spreading" (I hope that the title is correct in English).

It was made in Infochannel Designer, the software that my father uses to design his multimedia applications so, you have to download the player "iplay" first, install it and then, all the content will be available. Sorry but the presentation is in Spanish but I'm sure that you know someone who speak in Spanish.

We are working now in the design of the Multimedia (that is part of my proposal) and I think that the application will be ready by the end of June.

I got the first prize in my category at the Science Fair at school last Friday and now i'll go to AsoVAC Science Festival.

Again, thank you for your support

With the best and kind regards,

Peter Alexander

¡Felicitaciones, Peter! -- HL

Monday, June 07, 2004

Nanorobotic Simulation


You want NanoBots?


I'll give you NanoBots!

Sunday, June 06, 2004

My 64-bits worth

I'm not sure I agree with some of Simson Garfinkel's answers to The 64-bit Question. He's thinking about memory in terms of current applications, products and storage needs. Perhaps the capacity is getting ahead of entrepreneurs' or the markets' abilities to find some use for them, but you can't tell me that putting that much memory and speed in the hands of the average citizen is a waste. That's not a reflection of too much aggressive marketing by the chip makers. That's more a reflection of how the software and application developers are way behind.

The computing revolution is supposed to empower individuals. OK. Here's the memory, here's the speed. Now, get to it.

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Call for Papers: Nanotech Challenges

HYLE: International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry and TECHNE: Journal of the Society for Philosophy and Technology have issued a joint call for papers on "nanotech challenges." Here's what the journals want:

    Some fifteen years ago, when the term 'nanotechology' was almost unknown, ideas about molecular manufacturing or 'producing new materials at the nanometer scale' would clearly have been associated with synthetic chemistry or materials science. Today, almost all of the natural and engineering sciences are engaged in nanotechnology, in some disciplines even as much as 10 per cent. The rapid emergence and growth of nanotechnology across the disciplines, fuelled by visions of a new technological revolution and huge governmental funding, present many great challenges not only to scientists and engineers, but also to those whose profession is to reflect on science and technology and their place in society.

    With their particular audiences of philosophers of technology and philosophers of chemistry, respectively, TECHNE and HYLE join forces to address these challenges. Since we, the editors of the journals, believe that the two audiences share too much interest in this topic to go separate ways, we have decided to undertake the experiment of cooperative journal editing. We particularly welcome papers on one or more topics of the following non-exclusive list." More here.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Remembering Molecular Memory

    With speculation swirling around which memory technology will drive the next generation of consumer electronics, one company, Rolltronics Corp., has boldly announced its "nanoscale" molecular memory will be ready to go by the end of 2004.
Nanoelectronics Planet, June 28, 2002
    If all goes well, by 2004 the company (CALMEC) will be fielding a 3-D prototype memory that looks like a one-cubic-inch block. However ungainly, this block will be the precursor of a 16 terabyte (that's 16,000 gigabytes or 16,000,000 megabytes) storage device with read-write speeds of 2 gigabytes. ... Currently, the company's business plan calls for a working 2-D prototype by the end of 2003 but the company needs a commercial partner to carry the technology beyond the prototype stage.
Nanoelectronics Planet, Oct. 7, 2002
    So far, MEC's ultimate goal of creating a molecular memory has been elusive, and will likely remain that way for quite some time. The earliest expected delivery date for a molecular memory prototype from DARPA's Moletronics initiative, from which MEC gets some of its funding, is 2004.
Nanoelectronics Planet, Oct. 23, 2002
    With 32 megabyte transfer speeds it is faster than flash, nonvolatile, uses 10 times less power, is denser, cheaper – 10 cents per megabyte vs. 45 cents for flash -- and, when it hits the market in mid-2004, will fit into the same pin-slots as today's products.
Small Times, Sept. 24, 2002

Friday, June 04, 2004


    America is a country where the minute one person stands up and says, "That's impossible," someone else walks in the door and announces, "We just did it."
Thomas L. Friedman, in

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Converging on clean energy

The Investor's Business Daily reports:

    Rising gas and oil prices are bad news for most Americans. But where many see gloom, the biotech industry sees opportunity. "We are witnessing the creation of a new infrastructure based on biology, instead of older rust-belt technology and petroleum," said Brent Erickson, vice president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization. "What created this revolution is the convergence of information technology, biotech and nanotech."

    A report released Thursday by the biotech trade group suggests that new industrial biotechnology tools can help reduce pollution and manufacturing costs across an array of industries. It discusses how, for example, new enzymes can be used instead of bleach to whiten paper pulp and how certain corn byproducts can be used to make plastics that don't contain petroleum and that are entirely biodegradable." More here.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

My New Slogan

NanoBot: One of the most famous blogs in the world.*

* Slightly less popular than the others on the InstaPundit's hit list, therefore advertising price drops sharply. Claim of popularity applies only to the region of Michigan in which my mother resides.

Nanomachines? We can do that

A useful self-replicating machine could be less complex than a Pentium IV chip, according to a new study performed by General Dynamics for NASA. More here.

What Would Roger Own? Not Nano

AlwaysOn's Tony Perkins interviews "uber-investor" Roger McNamee, who says he wouldn't touch this technology with a 10-nanometer pole. Here's what McNamee says:

    I'm personally totally uninterested in nanotechnology. And I'm uninterested in it because we were at the earliest phases of the infrastructure. I haven't the faintest idea what the applications are and I'm an applications investor. I'm not a true VC. I'll always be a Series B and beyond. I'm a product person. And I can't even tell you by class what nano-technology is really going to do.

    So I think if you do nanotechnology, you've got to really believe in it, because you're going to be at it 10 or 15 years before there's a real product. And for some of you, that might be the right answer. It just wouldn't be right for me. So I'm not going to make any qualitative statement about the attractiveness of the opportunity so much as it's just a bad fit for my personality. If you're going to be an investor, knowing what's a good fit for your personality I think is fundamental." More here.

As I've written before, nano is only for the brave and the foolish.