Thursday, September 30, 2004

Clinton makes nanomention of large legacy

I'm doing some research today at the Baldwin Public Library in Birmingham, Mich. (It has a very dependable broadband connection and quiet, comfortable surroundings -- a perfect place to work), when I found Bill Clinton's

in the new books section.

The word "nanotechnology" was not important enough, apparently, to make the index, but I did find a passing mention when I looked up the Human Genome Project. Clinton writes (on the bottom of page 889):

    In a speech to scientists at California Institute of Technology, I unveiled a proposed increase of nearly $3 billion in research, which included $1 billion for AIDS and other biomedical purposes and $500 million for nanotechnology, and major increases for basic science, space, and clean energy.

And that's it. Kind of a disappointment. The National Nanotechnology Initiative might turn out to be one of Clinton's most-important legacies. I would have loved to find out more about what he was thinking as he fired this nano shot heard 'round the world.

Text, video and audio of the Jan. 21, 2000, speech can be found here.

Generic Nanotechnology *

* Color, texture and nanosize may vary

Nano Carolina

Forsyth Technical Community College has received approval to establish an Associate in Applied Science degree in nanotechnology (

    Forsyth Technical Community College has received approval from the North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges to establish an Associate in Applied Science degree in nanotechnology. This is the first nanotechnology degree program offered in the North Carolina Community College System. The first course, introduction to nanotechnology, will be offered during the spring 2005 semester.

    "This is an exciting opportunity for the members of our community. Great appreciation is extended to Wake Forest's Center for Nanotechnology and especially Dr. David Carroll and Dr. Richard Czrew who have guided us and offered a wonderful ongoing collaboration with their adjunct faculty and labs," said Dr. Cynthia Bioteau, vice president of Instructional Services at Forsyth Tech. Forsyth Tech will collaborate with the Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials at Wake Forest University in the areas of atomic-force microscopy and electron microscopy. More here

Related News
Introductory nanotechnology course offered at Texas State University Nanomaterials Applications Center (
Educators Opening High Tech Corridor (Citizen Press -- Tennessee)

NanoBot Backgrounder
The Small Cheese
From Boston to Berkeley, this land is nano land
A Little Education

Quanta on my mind

Is the universe friendly? (By Geoff Olson, Common Ground)

    experimentA fundamental experiment in quantum physics involves shining a beam of light at a barrier with two open slits. Some of the light gets through the barrier, forming an interference pattern on a screen. This indicates light has the property of a wave. Yet if you close one slit, leaving the other open, the light appears as just a single shaft of light built up photon by photon on the screen, which indicates that light has a particle property.

    Forget for a moment that no one has ever truly figured out how light can be both a particle and a wave at the same time, things which are as different as baseballs and Bach fugues. The critical part is that how it behaves depends upon the experimental setup. Ask nature a question a certain way, and you get a certain answer. (According to quantum physicist Werner Heisenberg, “What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.”)

    ... In other words, the nature of the question determines the reality you perceive. Our choice plays a critical role in determining the outcome of a situation in our local space-time - at least for experiments with photons.

    If our choices have this kind of dynamic going with the quantum world, the question then becomes how deep does this craziness run? Scientists insist such paradoxical phenomena are limited to the nano-world of the quantum. At larger scales, they are smudged out by the cancellation of a huge number of differing quantum states. It’s called “decoherence,” and it prevents the Alice in Wonderland weirdness of quantum physics from erupting into the kitchen, boardroom, or lab.

    Yet with the discovery of “microtubules” in human neurons, there is some evidence that the human brain may actually process some information on a quantum level, which may or may not reopen this whole can of worms for the macro level of reality. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
Nuclear spintronics: quantum Hall and nano-systems
Nano on the brain

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

NanoSocks Road Test

When I saw this CNET News report on NanoHorizons and its fight against foot fungus, I hoofed it over to a back corner of a shelf to dig out a product that truly did tread new ground. I remembered that more than a year ago I had asked JR Nanotech Plc to send me a sample of its SoleFresh socks ... I mean, "comprehensive footcare using nano silver technology."

The product, according to the package, contains "nano-size silver particles" that prevent "bacteria and fungus causing itchiness and odour."

Great. I'm there. As a former athlete's foot sufferer (you now officially know too much about me) and proud poster boy for nanopants, I'd love to find out whether playing footsie with a nice pair of nanosocks would complete me.

The picture above was taken at about 11 p.m. Sept. 28, 2004. I'm going to keep them on for a while now and give this product a run for its money. See what I do for you, dear NanoBot reader? It costs you nothing, and you're spared the full sensory experience. Question is, how long do you think I should keep them on to see whether they're truly worth their weight in nanosilver?

NanoBot Backgrounder
NanoVelvet Revolution
The people want the pants

Monday, September 27, 2004


"Again, our conclusions from the past to the future are made more hazardous than ever by the acceleration of change. In 1909 Charles Peguy thought that "the world changed less since Jesus Christ than in the last thirty years" 4; and perhaps some young doctor of philosophy in physics would now add that his science has changed more since 1909 than in all recorded time before. Every year—sometimes, in war, every month—some new invention, method, or situation compels a fresh adjustment of behavior and ideas. –Furthermore, an element of chance, perhaps of freedom, seems to enter into the conduct of metals and men. We are no longer confident that atoms, much less organisms, will respond in the future as we think they have responded in the past. The electrons, like Cowper’s God, move in mysterious ways their wonders to perform, and some quirk of character or circumstance may upset national equations, as when Alexander drank himself to death and let his new empire fall apart (323 B.C.), or as when Fredrick the Great was saved from disaster by the accession of a Czar infatuated with Prussian ways."

Will and Ariel Durant, writing in The Lessons of History

Sunday, September 26, 2004

3M's tale of the nanotape

ForbesWolfeThe old Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Co., founded in 1902, might still be in business had it continued to scrape for sandpaper customers or stuck only to the tape business. But it might not have become the 3M – the diversified technology company – that we all recognize today.

3M knows, and practices, the almost counterintuitive business proverb that to place all your energies into pleasing your current customers is to potentially miss the revolution around the corner.

Just ask Larry Wendling, staff vice president at 3M's Corporate Research Laboratory, who's been with the company for more than two decades and has watched the firm lose its R&D focus over time, dispersing it among 14 different research centers, then finally in the past year centralizing it once more.

"We went back to the future a little," Wendling says, referring to the company's' 2003 scientist shuffle that gave the company more focus in its R&D – a difficult task for a company that serves markets ranging from tape to teeth. But even 3M knows that if you continue to invest only in the technology that supports your existing business, the future may not need you.

So, how do you plan for markets that do not yet exist?

Well, to find out, you've got to take a look at the September Forbes/Wolfe Nanotech Report. The dynamic trio of Josh Wolfe, Peter H├ębert and Robert Paull are smart guys, but apparently hadn't learned their lesson in the August issue and asked me to return to help out with this 3M feature.

Find out how 3M's been small for decades; they just don't send out a Post-it a day bragging about it. Yes, they're hype-free and won't stick to your dental work.

NanoBot Backgrounder
From Wilkes-Barre to Wolfe
Headwaters Inc. makes nano waves

From a buzzword to a brick wall


On the Record: Craig Barrett
(San Francisco Chronicle)
    Q: How big is your investment in nanotechnology?

    A: Nanotechnology is a buzzword that you in the press have popularized, and the government popularizes it. The formal definition of nanotechnology is anything below 100 nanometers. Every transistor that we make is below 100 nanometers.

    So, if you want to know the investment that we're making in nanotechnology, it's the total investment that Intel is making. ... We don't happen to be the nanotechnology that you popularize with carbon nano-tubes and quantum dots and organic molecules that are going to replace CMOS transistors. Most of that is an esoteric and populist impression of what nanotechnology is. The bulk of nanotechnology is what companies like Intel and Texas Instruments and others do today.

    Q: Is the process of miniaturization a difference of degree? Or is there at some point where you ... jump off the cliff?

    A: We don't refer to it as jumping off the cliff. We refer to it as running into a brick wall. (Laughter). Our strategy is we just motor along at 200 mph, and when we hit the brick wall, we'll hit it at full speed. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
Revolutions happen to the unprepared
Welcome to our Nano Nightmare
Welcome to our Nano Nightmare - The Sequel

Thursday, September 23, 2004

NPR can't tell Crichton from cosmetics

National Public Radio's Noah Adams interviewed Science Friday's Ira Flatow on NPR's Day to Day program and, frankly, it was a bit of a disappointment. I expect better from public radio.

It started out as a kind of lite-'n'-brite feature about the amazing buff and shine you get when you nanowax your car -- "nanoparticles that are so small they actually fill in the tiny nicks and scratches" -- and that's OK. Then, after tossing out some info on an artificial retina that produces "16 channels of differentiation" that lets the blind "tell the difference between a knife and a plate, where they couldn't before," they launched into a strange mix of fiction and nonfiction.

When Adams brought up Michael Crichton's "Prey," which he described as "nanotechnology gone wild" with "swarms going after me," Flatow missed an opportunity to differentiate between the far-off (or far-fetched) fear of the Crichton variety and the more-legitimate near-term ones. Flatow, without skipping a beat, answered the "Prey" comment with, "This is the deep fear that many people have about nanotechnology." He described the concerns over nanoparticles and toxicity, as if the Crichton book had anything to do with it.

Then, Flatow just got his facts wrong when he asserted that the UK's Royal Society recommended cosmetics that contain nanoparticles be taken off the market.

In reality, the Royal Society said in its recently released report, that the nanosized titanium dioxide inside some brands of sunscreen had already been given a favorable recommendation by the European Commission's scientific safety advisory committee, so no action needs to be taken there.

Meanwhile, the Society asked the cosmetic companies that use nanoscale zinc oxide to provide details on how they reached the conclusion that they're safe. The cosmetic companies have not done that, much to the annoyance of some nanotech-watchers in Britain, but the Society has made no recommendation that anything be taken off the market.

Flatow was confusing the Royal Society with the radical, headline-seeking, anti-technology ETC Group, which long ago recommended taking sunscreen and cosmetics off the shelves.

Chalk up another victory for the ETC Group, which has again proved that if you repeat selective information over and over again, it not only magically becomes "the truth," it's even placed in the mouths of others. I expect most of the mainstream media to parrot the ETC Group line and leave its assumptions unchallenged, but I do expect better from NPR.

NanoBot Backgrounder
WSJ is down with nano
Please send fear in lieu of facts
ETC Group Reacts
Ruff on the environment

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

From Boston to Berkeley, this land is nano land

NSF Announces Six New Centers for Nanoscale Research (

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) today announced awards of $69 million over five years to fund six major centers in nanoscale science and engineering. These awards complement eight existing centers established since 2001. The awards are part of a series of NSF grants totaling $250 million for nanoscale research in multiple disciplines in fiscal year 2004.

    The new centers will be located at the University of California-Berkeley, Stanford University in California, the University of Wisconsin, Ohio State University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Northeastern University in Massachusetts.

    "The nanoscale science and engineering initiative at the National Science Foundation supports high-risk/high-reward priority research themes aligned with societal needs," said Mihail Roco, head of the NSF initiative and chair of the National Science and Technology Council's subcommittee on Nanoscale Science, Engineering and Technology. "Each new center has a bold vision for research and education at the frontiers of science and technology, and with the existing centers, provide a coherent approach to U.S. nanotechnology research and education. Recent breakthroughs supported by NSF in exploratory research in nanomachines, nanobiosystems, medical devices, high-rate manufacturing, nanopores, and self-assembly are now moving to the next level." More here

Related News
Mass. colleges awarded grant for nanotech (Boston Globe)
UW-Madison gets $13 million to study nanotech (Wisconsin Technology Network)

NanoBot Backgrounder
Being Mike Roco
Mr. Kulongoski goes to Washington
Nano Bacon Brought Home

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Turn on, tune in, tiny out

LearyIsland Foundation is seeking writers who can contribute original art or editorial material in the following areas.

  • the convergence of computers with multimedia, VR and the Web the "cyberculture"
  • new perspectives on the psychedelic experience and alternative realities
  • leading-edge science including chaos theory, the "new physics" and nanotechnology More here



“Nature invented intricate molecular tools to detect and repair malfunctions in cells and organisms. Ultimately, our research may lead to the use of biomolecular computers to supplement and enhance existing natural defenses.”

Yaakov Benenson, a doctoral student at Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science and one of Technology Review's 100 Top Young Innovators

Monday, September 20, 2004

Creating a monster

Taking the Scare Out of Biotech Crops
The author of a new book on the 'Frankenfood Myth' argues that excess regulation of genetically modified food unnecessarily frightens the public and impedes research. (Technology Review)

    In the late 1990s, political scientist Gregory Conko had been studying food and pharmaceutical regulation as a fellow of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, and noticed the rising concerns in the European Union over genetically modification of crop plants. “I saw this was an issue that was getting much bigger and that it would likely also become a bigger issue in the United States,” he says. So he began shifting his focus almost exclusively to examining issues of the regulation of genetically engineered foods. Last month, Conko and Henry I. Miller, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, published (Praeger Publishers), a book that examines some of what they say are the major misunderstandings about agricultural biotechnology. More here
NanoBot Backgrounder
Are nanoparticle studies 'one decade late'?
GMO is so '90s; Make way for AMO
Nano's 'No GMO' Mantra

Start the nano revolution without me

Nano Second (The New Republic)

    With the same bated breath that accompanied the early days of the dot-com era, commentators wrote that Nanosys would be the "first monster nanotech IPO," that "could launch an entirely new IPO wave."

    Then, suddenly, everything fell apart. Talk of a nanotech boom turned to talk of a nanotech bubble, with investors and commentators publicly expressing fear that the technology was much more hype than promise. In August, Nanosys withdrew its IPO, citing adverse market conditions, and the scene has been quiet ever since. The nanotech bubble, it seems, burst before it even inflated. What happened? And what does it mean for the nanotech industry? More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
Revolutions happen to the unprepared
IPO no-go
Initial Perilous Offering


“The [carbon nanotube] material is not just for space elevators, it has much broader applications. The NSF is just hot to trot on nanotechnology, so I think there’s definitely bucks out there.”

Donna Shirley, former head of NASA’s Mars exploration program, quoted in The Space Review

Related News
Space Elevator Now the Subject of Research By Cadets at the United States Air Force Academy (Business Wire)

NanoBot Backgrounder
Buy-in-the-sky scheme
Stairway to Heaven
Cut NSF, but grow nano

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Welcome, Rice University students

Well, the future may not need us, but at Rice University, the future does (optionally) need Howard Lovy's NanoBot.

The Houston center of higher nanotech learning has a new course this fall: Nanotechnology: Content and Context. It sounds like a fascinating course, and needless to say I'm glad the issue of "context" is being addressed since I blab endlessly about it on this site. Perhaps that's why the NanoBot is listed in the class syllabus under background and optional reading.

Hello, eager young nano cadets. Welcome to my little world. And, yes, this will be on the test.

NanoBot Backgrounder
Gonna send you back to nano schoolin'
'Societal Concerns' vs. Scientific Accuracy
Science blinded by culture

Update: Get hip to the healing power of Lovy! Who am I to argue with these budding, brilliant young scientists? Can I hear an "amen," Cientifica?

Saturday, September 18, 2004

'Strongs to the finichk'

We're talking real 'green' energy
MIT researchers join in project to harness photosynthetic power of spinach in field of electronics (Boston Globe)

    popeyeScientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have proved what Popeye already knew -- spinach is an excellent energy source. It's so good that in 10 years, our cellphones and portable computers may be coated in a spinach-based material that provides their electrical power.

    "The phone is no longer red or blue; it becomes green. So what?" said Shuguang Zhang, associate director of MIT's Center for Biomedical Engineering. In exchange for the color makeover, users would have electrical devices that would recharge themselves from sunlight, using a process similar to the photosynthesis that keeps all green plants alive.

    Zhang, assistant computer science professor Marc Baldo, and recent MIT graduate Patrick Kiley helped develop the technology, dubbed Photosystem 1. The MIT team joined forces with scientists at the University of Tennessee and the US Naval Research Laboratory. They isolated a set of spinach proteins that produce energy when exposed to light. The proteins form clusters no more than 20 nanometers in size, meaning that 100,000 would fit on the head of a pin. More here

Related News
MIT Works to Power Computers With Spinach (Associated Press)

NanoBot Backgrounder
Buying Power
From Wilkes-Barre to Wolfe
Converging on clean energy

Friday, September 17, 2004

Revolutions happen to the unprepared

I'm glad to see CNET News pick up on the nanotech revolution that's been forced on the semiconductor industry. Executive Editor Charles Cooper, in a column titled Catching the nano wave, shows a deep understanding of why nanotech is not just a trendy word to chipmakers, but something they need to learn or die:

    As the end of the complementary metal oxide semiconductor, or CMOS, life cycle approaches, chipmakers find themselves in a race to catch the wave of the next big technology trend. Consensus opinion has it that we're talking about nanotechnology.

    That's why the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), a trade consortium representing American chipmakers, wants to create a Nanoelectronics Research Initiative. If the plan comes alive, a select number of universities will become test grounds for the development of advanced nanotechnologies.

    "We can't even think about not doing this," said George Scalise, a veteran chip hand who now heads the trade group. "We have to make it happen." More here

Indeed, the SIA expects current lithographic methods to reach their absolute limit in 15 years. By that time, it'll be like a Midtown Manhattan subway during rush hour on every chip. You just can't pack them in there any tighter.

So, the group is asking the U.S. government to chip in more money and it's proposing a research institute that will discover what comes next. The goal? Creating an entirely new industry, with new switches, interconnects, materials, memory and manufacturing methods by 2020.

Remember, that 2020 date is the absolute drop-dead deadline. Companies not only need to learn and implement new methods before then, they also have to do it in tandem with evolving standards for new nanolithographic and nano-assembly techniques. So, the various processes and materials that nanotech researchers are experimenting with take on a whole new sense of importance. The semiconductor industry no longer views them as a curiosity. It's thinking 15 years down the road and wondering how the "breakthrough of the week" can scale up into large-scale manufacturing and become incorporated into evolving standards.

Now, contrast that to the strategy of some of the top nanotechnology companies with their eyes on the semiconductor market – ZettaCore, Nanosys, Nantero. They're all focusing on building technologies that can be incorporated into today's semiconductor processes. They're doing this because that is how they can obtain VC funding, impress investors and stay alive in the short term. But in doing that, they're essentially applying some chewing gum and nails to hold together a house that belonged to their parents, when what they could really be focusing on is preparing for the day the whole rotting, mold- and termite-infested edifice simply collapses under its own weight.

With VCs overcompensating for their reckless enthusiasm during the '90s, they're missing out on an opportunity to really "change the paradigm." We're not talking about a couple of college kids with a bar-napkin plan to sell kumquats online. We're talking about coming up with the standards for nano-electronics that will drive the industry deep into this century.

So, here is where the ZettaCores and the Nanteros need to lead, not follow. Unfortunately, they see themselves as merely startups beginning from a position of weakness, begging for crumbs from the big dogs. They need an attitude change if they're interested in truly enabling the next revolution. The nanocompanies with the right IP and the right timing can pounce and grab, leaving all the "incrementalists" and "integrationists" scratching their heads and wondering how and why they were left in the dust.

In the late '70s, my brother, now a veteran of many tech startups, was tinkering around with the demo model of Radio Shack's TRS-80 at our local shopping mall. It was there that he wrote his first program – a computer sketch program called the Doodle Pad – and released his first product while he was still in high school.

Sometime in the early '80s, though, I overheard him talking to my father about IBM's plans to introduce a personal computer for the consumer market. My big bro correctly predicted that Radio Shack and Apple were about to be blown out of the water. It didn't take a genius. IBM was, and still is, well … IBM. They have a way of dominating any room they enter.

But the reason my brother is not a multizillionairre today is that he had no way of predicting what was not obvious: Before 1981, no analyst would have told you that a couple of greasy-looking kids who had just moved their startup from Albuquerque to suburban Seattle were about to take over the world. Digital Research should have had the goods to deliver IBM an operating system for its new personal computer. It didn't. Bill Gates did. Historians can argue the hows and whys, but for our purposes that's the end of the story.

There needs to be a recognition that when revolutions happen, they usually happen to the unprepared.

NanoBot Backgrounder
Welcome to our Nano Nightmare
Thanks for the NanoMemories
'Terabyte territory'

Related News
Intel's Frank Robertson to Keynote SEMI NanoForum (

Brain power will win nanotech wars: Semiconductor executives expect formidable developments at college (The Albany Business Review)

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Nanomix senses a product in 2005

Nanotech firm to launch first products (East Bay Business Times)

    With a new $500,000 grant in its pocket and a fresh-faced CEO, Nanomix Inc. of Emeryville has its eye on a long-awaited prize - the launch of the company's first two nanotechnology sensors beginning early next year.

    For four years, the UC-Berkeley spinoff has focused almost exclusively on trying to perfect a way of developing nanoelectronic sensors, a fast-growing niche within nanotechnology.

    The process involves integrating extremely narrow, hollow cylinders made of carbon atoms, or nanotubes, with tiny silicon chips. Nanomix is developing sensors with a wide array of applications, including biomolecule detection for drug research and diagnostics and for the detection of pollutants in air and water.

    Now, the 20-person firm is preparing to launch its first product - a hydrogen sensor - early in 2005. Hydrogen sensors can be used anywhere batteries are being charged, such as at semiconductor foundries or telecommunications towers. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
And now, from NanoBot Weather Central

NanoTox a NIOSH priority

Tuesday at NSC's Safety Congress & Expo (Business & Legal Reports)

    John Howard, director of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, discussed several safety issues that his agency plans to focus on in the coming year and beyond: ... * Identify and address emerging safety issues related to nanotechnology, such as dispersion of toxins, assessing workplace hazard risks, and personal protective equipment. More here
NanoBot Backgrounder
Safety and health group launches nano page
Class, take out your nanotoxicology texts
Are nanoparticle studies 'one decade late'?

Get with the programme

CORDIS publishes new 'NMP' project profiles (CORDIS News)

    CORDISCORDIS, the Community Research and Development Information Service, has updated its 'Find a project' service for the Sixth Framework Programme for research (FP6) with project profiles from the third thematic priority, covering 'Nanotechnologies and nanoscience, knowledge-based multifunctional materials, and new production processes and devices' (NMP).

    The objective of research funding in this area is to move European industry toward a more knowledge-based and environmentally friendly approach, combining materials sciences, nanotechnology, production technologies, information technologies and biotechnologies. The indicative budget allocated to the NMP priority for the duration of FP6 is 1,429 million euro.

    ... For further information, please consult the FP6 Projects service at the following web address:

    As well as the FP6 NMP section:

    and the CORDIS thematic Nanotechnology service:

    Detailed information on the open NMP calls for proposals is to be found at:
NanBot Backgrounder
Europeans like it tiny and tough
A bright future ... in Europe

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Now, this one's a stretch

It's a Bird…It's a Plane … It’s Metal Rubber (ScienCentralNews Video)

Imagine something that bends and stretches like rubber, but conducts electricity the way metal does. As this ScienCentral News video reports, you don't have to imagine this—Metal Rubber is here. And it could make some amazing things a reality.

    metalrubber6In flight, birds can alter the shape of their wings and bodies in order to fly better in varying conditions. What if a plane could do that, too? Such a plane would need to be made from a material that could bend and stretch like rubber, and direct changes in shape by conducting electrical signals, the way metal can.

    Enter Metal Rubber—a new patented material created by a team of researchers headed by Richard Claus, professor of materials sciences and engineering, and electrical and computer engineering at Virginia Tech. Claus’ team took six years to perfect Metal Rubber, collaborating with chemist Jennifer Lalli at NanoSonic, Inc., a Blacksburg, Virginia nanotechnology company of which Claus is president. More here
NanoBot Backgrounder
Wear your metal rubber
Shape-shifting wings closer to flight?

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Storage space

Nanotechnology-Based Data Storage on Rise (UPI)

Industry buzz is rising around MRAM, or magnetic RAM, where data are stored not electrically but magnetically. The advantage of MRAM is it preserves data after systems are switched off, which means computers, digital cameras, PDAs and other devices can be built with nonvolatile memory, the kind immediately ready for use after switching on.

    millipedeNanotechnology could yield billions of dollars of new data storage devices, based on exotic technologies, in just the next few years, with vastly larger memory and faster response times, analysts said.

    Advances customers could see from such devices include cell phones Latest News about cell phones with enough memory to download movies, suggested Lawrence Gasman, principal analyst for NanoMarkets, an industry research firm in Sterling, Va. The global market for such nanobased storage -- engineered at the scale of nanometers, or billionths of a meter, which is shorter than a wavelength of visible light -- is expected to increase dramatically.

    Experts predict a growth from $97 million in 2004 to $17.9 billion by 2008 and $65.7 billion by 2011, large enough to suggest future disruptions in existing markets and potentially the rise of new industry giants. More here
Related News
Nano Memory Scheme Handles Defects (Technology Review, via Techno-News Blog)

NanoBot Backgrounder
From the Dark Tower of my memory
'Terabyte territory'
Money for Memory

Saturday, September 11, 2004


On Sept. 11, 1991, my oldest daughter was delivered into this world. This day will always be one of new life for me.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Nano's got the look

Nanotech's not-so-hot models
Drug-discovery company Accelrys and a host of startups are staking claims in the emerging nanotech modeling sector. Are customers ready for the products? (Red Herring)


    Billions in government, venture capital, and corporate R&D dollars are pouring into nanotechnology projects worldwide, and, for the foreseeable future, nano-related companies will be spending much of that money on research. San Diego, California-based Accelrys – one of the top businesses in modeling software for drug discovery – and several smaller software modeling companies are pitching their products to businesses working on materials at the nanoscale.

    Industry analysts say this software increases return on investment (ROI) for those nanotech companies who can afford it, but most businesses aren’t ready to spend big money on modeling – yet.

    Nanotech innovators are searching for tools to aid in rational materials design, and molecular modeling software will be one, allowing researchers to visualize graphically and understand mathematically the interactions of atoms within structures, down to the molecular level. Traditionally, this software has been the domain of university and laboratory scientists, but Accelrys and others are working to make functional programs that can be used by engineers with little specialized training. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
Buckytube goes modeling
Insights gained from molecular modeling may lead to better insecticides (Eurekalert)

Thursday, September 09, 2004

NanoVelvet Revolution

Weaving whole cloth from atoms (Prague Post)

    PragueA team of researchers at the Technical University of Liberec has discovered a way of producing nanofibers that could revolutionize the process. Oldrich Jirsak, vice chancellor of the university, said the research team set out to develop an economical and ecological method for producing fibers on the atomic scale.

    "The idea came to me a few years ago when I was reading through the scientific articles about nanotechnology and nanofibers," he said. "As our faculty deals with textile engineering, I thought it was a good challenge for us."

    In less than two years, the team achieved its goal of producing hollow fibers with nanometer-scale diameters in a single-step process. While the ability to produce nanofibers has been around for several years, the Liberec group claims to have created a machine capable of manufacturing the fibers on a mass scale.  More here
NanoBot Backgrounder
Better watch your backside ... beware the pants
The people want the pants
Nano in cicada's clothing

Europeans like it tiny and tough

Making the most out of ‘extreme science’ (European Union)

    materialsWhether it is in space, inside a nuclear plant or in the kitchen, we expect products and systems to work efficiently and safely under varying conditions. One area of science specialises in providing reliable materials for top-end products and new applications in ‘extreme environments’. Meanwhile, a European consortium is looking for ways to boost this field.

    Today’s products and systems are expected to perform dependably and often under extremely demanding conditions, such as exposure to physical and chemical attack, intense irradiation, heat and pressure, while dealing with complex mechanical loads. The nanotechnology revolution and advances in nanoscience and knowledge-based systems are pushing the boundaries of materials science. More here
NanoBot Backgrounder
Shape-shifting wings closer to flight?
If it isn't materials, it's immaterial
The Tao of Dow

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Headwaters Inc. makes nano waves

Headwaters Incorporated Acquires Tapco Holdings, Inc. (Business Wire)

    The acquisition of Tapco will further diversify Headwaters' cash flow stream away from revenue associated with Section 29 business activities. On a pro forma basis, Covol Fuels represents approximately 20% of Headwaters' revenue versus approximately 33% previously. In addition, Tapco's significant presence in the remodeling market and historical strength throughout economic cycles provides balanced exposure to both the new construction and home improvement markets. Consequently, we believe this transaction will increase the operating cash flows that Headwaters can use to de-lever and invest in growth opportunities such as HTI's nanotechnology.
You want to know which nanotechnology opportunities Headwaters is talking about? Well, of course, you'll have to buy the Forbes/Wolfe Nanotech Report to find out. That's that traditional journalism thing I was talking about earlier, the one that I earn a living from. Yes, I know. I'm a total nanofloozy.

From Kabbalah to catalysts. Nowhere else, folks.

NanoKabbalah Jihad


We’re baffled as to how you equate our comments on Madonna’s astrologist with anti-religious rhetoric. Regurgitating that kind of cosmic garbage is worthy of being flagged as twaddle, whether it comes from Archbishop Harper or Ayatollah Lovy.

All is not lost, blogspace is full of places dedicated to the discussion of the finer aspects of spirituality and science.

This isn't one of them.


Well, you were a target of opportunity for me. I think you're intelligent enough to know that I'm not defending "astrology" and that I really don't care what Madonna is in to (Kabbalah is old news, by the way. I heard about her interest in it about six years ago and attempted to interview her about it for her hometown newspaper, The Detroit News, and was rebuffed by her publicist).

The larger point here is that you cannot divorce science from larger issues of society, culture, religion, custom and, yes, superstition. You can say you're all about pure science -- it either is or it ain't -- and to hell with the unwashed masses and their silly unscientific superstitions, and you're going to find yourself completely baffled as to why the public just can't see the logic in your arguments for nanotechnology.

Nanotech, as you know, is not any one technology at all, but promises to become pervasive in just about all aspects of life. Therefore, it needs to be presented to the public differently. It needs to be presented within a broader context. Otherwise, you'll be met with GMO-style opposition. As you know, GMO is a case where misconception and superstition had a real impact on the science and technology that you care very much about.

It's not about Madonna. It's not about Kabbalah. I just saw some inacuracies in your coverage of this and wanted to set it straight. Then, I grew annoyed at the pompous tone you took -- a tone that I think resonates negatively with the general public. So, I used it to try and make this larger point. Nanotechnology is not only about science and business. It's also very much about society and culture. If you want public acceptance, you have to concern yourself with all of the above.


And now, from NanoBot Weather Central

Nanotech May Be At Center Of Hurricane (Investor's Business Daily)

    HurricaneWeather forecasting, even when it comes to hurricanes, is notoriously inaccurate. Satellites or plane-dropped devices have limited abilities. That's because few data come from inside the storm itself, making it hard to tell what it will do.

    Now Ensco, a tech R&D firm in Falls Church, Va., says it has a foolproof way to predict the path of rampaging hurricanes and other severe weather events.

    The firm's developing a system that uses helium balloons loaded with molecule-sized sensors.

    The NASA-funded project is still in the design stage.

    Analysts say the market for such small gear — and the science behind it called nanotechnology — will eventually total billions or even trillions of dollars. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
Return of the Cave Capitalist
NASA funds SciFi technology (Wired)

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Nanotechnology a 'synthetic haloword'

Local economy: Nano-tech not the answer (Rustum Roy, writing in the Centre Daily Times)

    I was one of the senior science advisers to four successive governors of Pennsylvania. While sounding like Cassandra, I am in favor with U.S. industrialists because I keep some of them from wasting hundreds of millions of dollars chasing will-o-the-wisps. I address this to journalists and research funders (public and private).

    The "tiny technology" in your headline -- "nanotechnology" -- to which you refer is, in the view of many, merely one of those synthetic "halowords" being used recently to hype one area of research at the cost of other areas. (Every chemist -- like me -- has worked with and manipulated atoms and molecules, sub-nano particles, for 200 years; nanoscientists?)

    Twenty years ago, the world wasted $10 billion research and development dollar on ceramic engines; 10 years ago, it was even more on "ceramic superconductors." Jobs anyone? Do not get me wrong. Of course, every country's government and industry should follow such leads -- but only at a minor research level until some real, saleable products appear. That is when big scale R/D is justified. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
From Wilkes-Barre to Wolfe
Fuzzy Nano Math

Monday, September 06, 2004


"We're not talking about futuristic mamajama like nanotechnology or manufacturing plasma computer chips. Who knows what kind of technological advances we'll see by then. But what we do know is that there will be strong demand for jobs in health care and human services."

Zafer Sun, employment development officer at Solano Community College, quoted in the Daily Republic of Fairfield, Calif.

NanoBot Backgrounder
Nano sure is a piece of work
It's the nano economy, stupid
Work in the Great White Nano

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Better watch your backside ... beware the pants


Hazards Magazine should at least get some points for creativity -- not only for this wonderful image of Alec Guinness in a 1951 film about self-cleaning fabrics gone horribly, horribly wrong (insert Twighlight Zone-ish doo-doo-doo-doo music here), but also inventing new uses for carbon nanotubes: "By 2000 they were in commercial use as sports stadium flood lights," the article says.

I did not know that. In fact, I don't think it's true at all. Can anybody enlighten me (groan) on that one? The article is filled with the usual garbage -- turning what is not known into a reason to be afraid, be very afraid, and the little that is known into a reason to ban your nanopants. I like this line, though:
"We might not know for certain whether nanotech will make you sick, but industry knows it can certainly make you rich."

Where exactly do I sign up for the "make you rich" plan? So far, in reality, nanotech has produced an aborted IPO and a few hacks who tell you that someday stain-proof pants will either save or destroy the world.

'Invisible scientists' should expose themselves

Time to demystify science to win trust (The Guardian)

    Public concern about the direction of research should be taken seriously, one of Britain's leading scientists will warn today.

    Dame Julia Higgins, president of the British Association, believes that although people support science through taxes, they have very little control over its uses - and often suffer the consequences.

    "There is a whole raft of questions about the dual use of science. Knowledge always has a dangerous side, you can use it for good, you can use it for ill."

    Nuclear power and nuclear weapons provided an example.

    Many people were suspicious of chemicals, forgetting that most of modern life would be impossible without developments in chemistry. This raised questions about the public's trust in science.

    She called upon the entire science community - including politicians and business leaders trained in science, the "invisible" scientists who made careers outside science, and researchers and teachers - to debate the future.

    She spoke of the "backlash" over genetically modified crops, and the potential alarm about the new science of nanotechnology, which deals with fabrics on the scale of millionths of a millimetre. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
Please send fear in lieu of facts
Britain balances science, economics, perception
Bucky rage and 'imaginative commentators'

Friday, September 03, 2004

Nanotech arrogance will meet the Luddite hammer

Plant me firmly on "future doesn't need us" ground if this is a representative opinion among all of nanotechnology's thought leaders.

True science is ruled by humility, since a scientist above all is aware of how vast is his deficit of knowledge. A scientist who is ruled by arrogance, prejudice and caricature of what he does not understand is not practicing science at all, but is treading into historically cataclysmic territory.

And in Europe, if the past gives us any guide, the scientist who dismisses as unimportant the moral and ethical foundations of those whose lives he is allegedly improving will assuredly be shown the hammers of the Luddites.

But a greater man said it better:

    I maintain that the cosmic religious feeling is the strongest and noblest motive for scientific research. Only those who realize the immense efforts and, above all, the devotion without which pioneer work in theoretical science cannot be achieved are able to grasp the strength of the emotion out of which alone such work, remote as it is from the immediate realities of life, can issue. What a deep conviction of the rationality of the universe and what a yearning to understand, were it but a feeble reflection of the mind revealed in this world, Kepler and Newton must have had to enable them to spend years of solitary labor in disentangling the principles of celestial mechanics! Those whose acquaintance with scientific research is derived chiefly from its practical results easily develop a completely false notion of the mentality of the men who, surrounded by a skeptical world, have shown the way to kindred spirits scattered wide through the world and through the centuries.

    Only one who has devoted his life to similar ends can have a vivid realization of what has inspired these men and given them the strength to remain true to their purpose in spite of countless failures. It is cosmic religious feeling that gives a man such strength. A contemporary has said, not unjustly, that in this materialistic age of ours the serious scientific workers are the only profoundly religious people.

    Albert Einstein

NanoBot Backgrounder
The Kabbalah Nanotech Connection

Thursday, September 02, 2004

A bright future ... in Europe

President Bush, in his Republican National Convention speech tonight, promised to improve science and math education if he's elected to another term:

    In this time of change, most new jobs are filled by people with at least two years of college, yet only about one in four students gets there. In our high schools, we will fund early intervention programs to help students at risk. We will place a new focus on math and science. As we make progress, we will require a rigorous exam before graduation.
Many U.S. educators and science policymakers have warned that the sorry state of science education in this country will eventually come back to bite us in an inability to compete with Europe and Asia.

Corporate leaders in the United States understand this, too, and that's why you're seeing more labs open up overseas. Nani Beccalli, president of Europe, Middle East and Africa for General Electric Co., said it succinctly this past June when GE opened its new technology center in Germany:

    "This facility will allow us to take advantage of the great intellectual capital and high education standards in Europe, particularly in the fields of science and technology, and it is a tangible sign of our long-term commitment to grow in this market."
GE may be as American as Thomas Edison, but it also knows where the future might appear brighter.

NanoBot Backgrounder
Imagination at Work

The Kabbalah Nanotech Connection

Perhaps, TNTlog, it's best not to ridicule what you do not understand. Kabbalah and nanotechnology are more similar than you think. And, no, I'm not interested in Kabbalah because some celebrities have recently discovered it. I've been studying it most of my life -- not as a practitioner, but as an amateur student of religious history.

First, just to correct an error in the TNTlog post, Kabbalah is not a religion. It's a series of teachings within Judaism. And Madonna's rabbi is certainly not the first to see the incredible similarities between Kabbalah and science. The Big Bang was actually reasoned into existence by Kabbalists centuries before science "discovered" the event. When I first became interested in nanotechnology, I was amazed at some of the similarities, in thought and method, with Kabbalah.

Let me try to give you the blogger's digest version of an incredibly complicated philosophy and world view that has its roots in ancient Judaism. This, of course, is impossible, since many spend their entire lives trying to grasp it. So, I'll open with a story:

Abut four years ago, when I lived in New York, I traveled up Broadway to Yeshiva University to listen to a lecture by Temple Grandin. I have an autistic daughter, and so was intrigued by Grandin, who is autistic yet has achieved much as an inventor and agricultural scientist.

She told the audience of primarily rabbinical students that she believes the order that comes from chaos is proof of God. Her path to God is through science. She reasoned Him into existence – using the Second Law of Thermodynamics and Chaos Theory. It's a thoroughly logical way of arriving at a conclusion that defies logic.

Autistic people supposedly are dispassionate, think in pictures, and not existentially. Everything is ordered. The universe is autistic. It takes chaos, randomness, and obsessively places it in order, numbering everything "just so." Only a thoroughly logical mind can reason God into existence. Maybe that's why Einstein believed in God.

Maybe, too, that's why the most brilliant men of Medieval Jewry, shut out of any other profession in which their intellect could be used, spent what I used to think was a complete waste of mind power, reflecting on the minutia of Jewish law – taking the Torah and extrapolating a complex system of laws. Creating, codifying, obsessively ordering and numbering a spiritual system into a logical system.

But the smaller you get, the more you see the logic and order break down. The laws of physics seem to change. The smaller the size, the deeper the mystery and the more the orderly turns chaotic. It all meets on the nanoscale and below, where spirit/spirituality meets the individual components of organisms, where sand meets wave, where analog meets digital, where spirit meets matter.

The Kabbalah teaches that the universe was created perfect, yet then was blown to smithereens, its sparks of perfection scattered to the winds and hidden by husks that comprise today's reality. The duty of humankind is to gather the sparks back together.

This brings us to the line that was ridiculed on TNTlog as "twaddle."

    Nanotechnology ... is the technology of the future. Since science discovered the atom, and revealed its composition, scientists have been penetrating deeper and deeper into the functions of the proton, neutron and electron. The closer to the seed that these scientists get, the more they realize that its not about physical matter at all, but about energy. In other words, in the future, we will be able to reprogram ourselves, our bodies, and physical matter at the root level, but under one condition: that we must first care about the other person, before we think of ourselves."

Yes, I know, this particular "Kabbalist to the Stars" is probably selling a bit of spiritual snake oil, but that statement does get to the heart of the Kabbalah. The way you "gather sparks" -- perhaps metaphorically, perhaps physically -- is by leading a righteous life, by performing mitzvot, or good deeds and acts of charity. You do it by placing the needs of your fellow man or woman above your own.

That's how we zoom our scanning tunneling microscope from the "husks" of matter to its component atoms to an energetic "spark." This energy can be discovered, replicated and harnessed by science for any purpose at all. Yet these sparks can be used to repair the world only if they are in the hands of the righteous, the unselfish.

Yes, like a nanobot.

NanoBot Backgrounder
NanoKabbalah Consciousness
Nanotech and Tikkun
The Golems of our Era

1 out of 1 doctor recommends NanoBot

Dear Mr. Lovy,

As a long-time reader, I'd like to thank you for a consistently interesting (and often entertaining) blog.

I am a senior editor at The Scientist magazine, a news journal for life scientists. I thought you might be interested in a package of stories we ran in our August 30 issue on nanobiotech. First, we have an opinion from author Jack Uldrich (author of "The Next Big Thing is Really Small"), about the need for more public awareness on nanotech. Next, there's a feature on life science and biomedical applications of nanotechnology. Capping off the series is a piece, written by Vicki Colvin of Rice University, detailing nanotech safety concerns.

Thanks for your time and attention.

Best regards,
Jeffrey M. Perkel PhD
Senior Editor
The Scientist


Sure, I'll take a look them. Thanks. Also, thank you for saying nice things about the blog. Do you mind if I post the "consistently interesting and often entertaining" portion of your note, just to let my readers know that people who actually follow science for a living are getting something out of my blog? (Of course, I understand if you would rather not lose the respect of your peers through public admission that you read a blog).


Dear Howard,

Thanks for your note. No, I don't mind if you post my comment. As for my peers, doesn't everyone read blogs these days?

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Tune in for real-life biobots

nanocancerThe National Cancer Institute's Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer is hosting a live Webcast of its scientific roundtable in Bethesda, Md., Sept. 13 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. EDT.

It's all part of the National Institutes of Health's formal announcement of its $144.3 million, five-year plan to develop and apply nanotechnology to cancer detection and treatment. The speakers will include anybody who's anybody in the hunt for nanocures for cancer, including Rick Smalley and Vicki Colvin.

Also scheduled to be discussed are safety and ethical issues, plus ways in which researchers can get funding. In other words, something for just about anybody who's interested in the near-term prospects and potential problems associated with nanotechnology.

If you're even the slightest bit curious about near-term nanotech, and want to see some truly fascinating stuff, you should try to virtually be there.

NanoBot Backgrounder
Cancer Death to Cancer Detection
Here's the plain deal on biomedical nanobots
Good medicine, bad medicine

The Small Cheese

Technology is hard to see, but college believes in it (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

    A western Wisconsin community college is readying workers for an emerging industry that has big potential using materials 50,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.

    Chippewa Valley Technical College has enrolled its first eight students in a new, two-year technician program that will offer an associate's degree in nanoscience technology, which involves working with materials so small they can only be viewed under the most powerful microscopes.

    The college also has plans to start an $11 million business incubator to work with young companies in nanotechnology and other high-tech fields. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
A Little Education
The children are our nano future
Gonna send you back to nano schoolin'