Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Mr. Nano, come here. I want you!

Nano World: New cell phones from nanotech (By Charles Q. Choi, UPI)

    Nanotechnology soon could enhance cell phones with carbon-nanotube vacuum tubes, microscopic microphones, liquid lenses, compasses linked with global positioning system satellites and even electronic noses.

    "Nanotechnology is all about small, light and cheap, and you're not in the cell phone business if you're not thinking small, light and cheap -- the two are made for each other," said David Bishop, vice president of research at Lucent's Bell Labs in Murray Hill, N.J.

    As proof of principle, Bishop said Bell Labs researchers are developing nano-scale phones for the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency consisting of radio transmitters about the diameter of a human hair. The transmitters could be used to look at processes within living cells and measure chemical potentials, electric fields and pressures.

    "It's also an opportunity to shrink existing technology to its practical limits," Bishop told UPI's Nano World. More here

Hello Nano Moto!
WMD -- Writing of Media Distortion

Freelance frustrations

One science-oriented magazine rejected a piece because it did not go into enough technical detail, while a mainstream consumer publication rejected it because it went into too much technical detail. My biggest frustration, though, is educating the editors about nanotechnology.

Docs who know their spit

Saliva may replace blood as test for disease (By Judy Foreman, Boston Globe Columnist)

    Within two years, you may be able to go for a regular dental visit, spit into a cup and, before your appointment is over, find out from an analysis of your saliva whether you're at risk for oral cancer. Currently, dentists have to do a thorough mouth exam to probe for this disease, which will strike more than 28,000 Americans this year and kill more than 7,000.

    Within a few more years, you may be able -- with a fancier spit test -- to find out if you're at risk for a number of other diseases, including breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, ovarian cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.

    If you're among the avant garde, you might even have a tiny chip implanted in your cheek to monitor proteins in saliva such as C-reactive protein, which has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. The chip could sound an alarm -- maybe a beep, maybe an electronic message to your doctor -- whenever levels of a particular protein drift too high or too low. More here

Cancer detection within spitting distance
Alzheimer's: To test or not to test
NanoDoctors hold online office hours

How's NanoBusiness?

Too bad nobody volunteered to blog NanoBusiness 2005 for me. Sounds like they could have used the exposure.

Nano-interest in New York nanotech (Corante)

    The NanoBusiness 2005 event, held last week at the New York Marriott Financial Center, attracted little or no attention from the MSM (mainstream media). In fact, a search at Google News didn't turn up any MSM links to New York nanotech news, only a short preview of the conference from a site called Monsters & Critics:

    "While applications for the technology are wide open and venture capital dollars are readily available - many of the companies assembled at the NanoBusiness Conference 2005, a trade show held here wherein nanotechnologists are rubbing elbows with each other and Wall Street types - the challenges are great for the industry, which is still in its infancy." More here

Wanted: NanoBusiness blogger
NanoCommerce: Take it Literally
Nano and Commerce: Part 2

Monday, May 30, 2005


"Too often in the past, the industry has been caught out by the development of new risks. From obesity to nanotechnology, passive smoking to cyber terrorism, we're potentially facing a raft of new types of risk linked to socio-demographic, economic and political change."

Norwich Union
UK's largest insurer, quoted in the Telegraph

UK sets up a fragmented nanopolicy
A future filled with fullerenes?
2005 the year of nano regulation?

Here's to Euro health in 2020

Nanomedicine at your service! (Europa, European Commission)

    One branch of the nano-revolution – the aptly named nanomedicine – is becoming something of a torchbearer for this often confusing, sometimes maligned but most definitely expanding field of scientific research and development (R&D). As evidence of its growing importance, an upcoming Commission-backed conference, called EuroNanoForum 2005, will focus on nanotechnology and the health of EU citizens.

    With European Commission and industry support, a four-day international conference and forum, running from 6-9 September 2005, will focus attention on ‘Nanotechnology and the Health of the EU Citizen in 2020’. Organised by the UK-based Institute of Nanotechnology (IoN), the event will take place in Edinburgh, Scotland.

    According to the event organisers, the programme will explore key nanotechnology themes “from the point of view of EU strengths and improving the quality of life”. This is set against a background of the economics of future healthcare, demographics, business opportunities, and social and ethical considerations. More here

Kent wants to become supernano center
Europe fires its nano-engines, aims at America
Michigan creates new halls of nanomedicine


Robot combined with swallowable camera could give docs a better look inside the small intestine (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

    botgutThe words "intestinal bug" could gain a whole new meaning if a Carnegie Mellon University engineer is successful in his efforts to develop a medical robot for examining the intestinal tract.

    Metin Sitti, director of the NanoRobotics Lab, is developing a set of legs that could be incorporated into the swallowable camera-in-a-pill that has become available in the past four years for diagnosing gastrointestinal disorders in the small intestine.

    The capsule camera snaps thousands of pictures as it makes its way slowly through the narrow tract, carried by the wave-like peristaltic motion that moves all contents through the intestines.

    But Sitti is hoping that adding legs to the capsule will give physicians a measure of control. The work is supported by the Intelligent Microsystems Center in Seoul, Korea, and sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy. More here

Self-replicating MacroBot?
Nanobots: Possible only when convenient
RatBot strikes again

Three days of Peace, Ludd and Misunderstanding

Technopolis: Unraveling the Net of Technological Domination (Indymedia@UK)

    technopolisThree days of learning, discussion and games to explore new technologies of control and our resistance to them.

    Welcome to the Machine!

    The machine is all around us, omnipresent and omniscient. It's the camera on the street corner, the chip in your debit card and the number allotted to your child at birth. The machine is without and within. It's in the way we have been trained and domesticated since birth to fit into a mechanical world dictated by capital and the tick, tick, tick of its clock.

    Those who want to increase control and domination over our lives have invented increasingly pervasive technologies. From biotech to nanotech, through RFID, gait analysis and new 'non lethal' weapons to aid crowd control: they are all further attempts to quantify and standardise our lives. More here

The location of the Ludd-in will be "somewhere in Leeds, June 9th - 12th 2005." The main page can be found here, and the "reading list" recommended by organizers can be found here, although the only reading offered for nanotech is the five-year-old Bill Joy manifesto and this monstrosity of misinformation. To their credit, though, they also recommend all the major nanotech blogs and an industry PR sheet.

We've seen the nano enemy and they is us
Nanotech arrogance will meet the Luddite hammer
Nano is a concept by which we measure our pain

Friday, May 27, 2005

'Dual-use' nano vs. export controls

Those who have been following the debate on nanotech "Weapons of Mass Destruction" should also pay close attention to nano companies' arguments against export controls.

Yes, we live in a global village and collaboration is key to advancing nanotech, plus there's a mint to be made in China for nanotech companies. However, as we've discussed before, many nanotech startups are going for military applications first because that's where the money is. Much of the same basic technology can also be used for peaceful purposes. So, how can you tell a nanotech company not to export to China the same material it developed for the U.S. Department of Defense?

The "dual-use" question is a tough one to answer. But the bottom line is this: The United States is the leader in nanotech development. Nano companies are eager to partner with overseas companies and to sell their products overseas. Many nanotech materials and processes can be incorporated into civilian or military products. If terrorists or rogue nations are going to get their hands on some nanotech-enabled weaponry, the technology is likely to have originated in the United States.

pSivida's biosilicon does its job, then goes away

fwcoverEvery one of pSivida's first "customers," are going to die. And they're going to die of the disease that the Australian nanobio company's product is designed to treat. But if BrachySil, the company's lead product, gives liver cancer patients the gift of another year of life without the pain of chemotherapy, then that would count as pSivida's first success.

It might not be as theatrical as, say, a new wonder drug enabled by an exotic nanomaterial swooping in and saving lives by catching and killing early-stage cancers. But with a cautious U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and simultaneous research into both the benefits and the risks associated with buckyballs, dendrimers and other potential nanoscale drug delivery vehicles, it will be a while before these high-profile particles will be credited with saving anybody's life.

So, for the short term, there is what Roger Aston, pSivida's strategy director, calls his company's "dumb" nanotech application. It's not going trek up and down your bloodstream to find tumors to zap. For late-stage cancer victims, doctors already know exactly where the tumors are. And pSivada's "dumb" nano is a micron-sized "bead" filled with a honeycomb pattern, each nano-sized well loaded with anti-cancer isotopes. Give the tumor a squirt with the 32-phosphorous material and it stays in the tumor and roasts it over three-month period.

And then the biosilicon bead just disappears, biodegrades after it releases the cancer treatment over a specified time period.

For the complete story, take a look at the May edition of the Forbes/Wolfe Nanotech Report, where I helped out on the pSivida report. If you're already a subscriber, download it here. If not, then help out NanoBot by subscribing through this link.

Related News
pSivida and EpiTan pArtner on pIgment pIll (Cosmetics Design)

Bigger bucks for better metaphors
Pint-size pushers
3M's tale of the nanotape
Living on nano time
Song of Soon-Shiong

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Pardon the blogging break. Be back soon. And apologies to my Bloglet e-mail subscribers who received just a bunch of nonsense notes today. Apparently, labeling a post "draft" doesn't mean anything to Bloglet, and the system sent it out.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

WMD -- Writing of Media Distortion

Hey, Howard,

Do you have any thoughts on the nano-WMD article? Given the length and timing of these columns as well as the detail I try to devote to them, I usually can't write much on nano controversies, most of which are either:

    a) brush fires that don't lend themselves well to a detailed 1,000-word analysis weeks to months after the fact,

    b) do not yet have enough quantitative data for me to write an analysis-dense story on, or

    c) subjects I've already written on.

I tried to write a fairly balanced piece here -- to not be all "nano-WMDs will destroy our brains," but not "anything that might make nanotech look bad is a priori a bad thing." So I'm curious as to how well I succeeded.

In addition to your insights, Howard, I'd be interested in what anyone else in the nanotech community thought of this. Had the possibility of these nano-enabled WMDs occurred yet to any industry or academic nano folks reading this blog? Because it didn't occur to me before I ran across the story.

Charles Q. Choi

Hello, Charles.

Careful what you ask for. You want an honest opinion from the nanotech blogosphere, you're sure to get it from all angles and sides. (Sorry about the headline. Kind of harsh, but I'm not blaming you. As you get more experience and more sources, your nanotech stories will improve. Your letter shows that you possess an intellectual honesty that's rare and precious in our business).

But before I go into my thoughts on your WMD article, let me first tell you that I understand exactly what you're going through as a reporter. As you've already discovered, nanotechnology is still a series of enabling technologies, processes, materials in search of routes inside some real-world products -- no matter whether the product is a weapon or cure. The people who invent these materials might not even know yet how they will eventually find their way into the marketplace.

It was even worse when I started assigning nanotech stories four years ago. Even less of it was on the market, and so what you had were a lot of press releases guessing that someday this nanomaterial or process will be used in medicine, weapons detection or wastewater treatment, or all of the above, or none of the above. So, that leaves the way free for think-tank types to extrapolate, well, pretty much anything they want.

And that brings me to your story. To me, your main source, Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra, seems to be another example of a thinker who can take the kernel of what is possible today -- targeted drug delivery -- give it a good shake over the flames and see what issues the Jiffy Pop ... um ... pops up (bad metaphor, but blogging is sometimes stream of consciousness, so I'm not going to backtrack and fix it). That's nothing against theorists, of course -- as regular readers of this blog know, I think theorists play an important role in technology development. However, Pardo-Guerra should have been one of many voices in the story (yes, I do understand time considerations).

Maybe I'm revealing too much of my personal politics here, but frankly I don't even know what is meant by Weapons of Mass Destruction. To me, anything that can kill more than one person is a WMD. And, if you want to get away from theory and delve into current research and products, the biggest developer of WMDs is the U.S. Department of Defense. That is not a political statement. It's simply a statement of fact. You can tag that with your own political ... um ... biomarkers (shit, another bad metaphor), and decide for yourself whether that's good or bad.

The specter of a Dr. Mengele of the nano age turning targeted drug delivery into targeted death delivery (that phrase is for sale, for any headline writer who wants it) is somewhat misleading in that there's no real danger of that happening anytime soon. Chalk that up as somewhere between "buckyballs kill fish" and "gray goo will kill us all."

I'd check out nano-energetics, the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, and some of the scary-sounding stuff on the U.S. Defense budget. These things can be, and are being, developed right now. And nanotech startups in search of funding are going the military route because -- like the criminal Willie Sutton famously said about banks -- that's where the money is.


Monday, May 23, 2005

Dear NanoBot: I'm sold on nano, but now what?


I've been a NanoBot reader for a while now. I'm in my late 20s and I've got a pretty good start on a career in software. I've been sold on nano. I think it's going to be an exciting ride, and I'd like to ride shotgun. The problem is, how does one get started in nano?

I'm a good software engineer. I know a lot about what it takes to take something from conception to reality. I'm sure that given my current experience and technical background I could be a great help to any nano company. Unfortunately, after poking around and looking at tinytechjobs.com and some other places, I've come to the conclusion that these kinds of companies aren't having a problem finding computer techs. Even so, I'd like to contribute a little more directly.

I've talked it over with my fiance, she's prepared to help me make some sacrifices. I could go back to school if need be, but it's not like there's a night program at the local community college for nanotech. When I first decided to get into computers, a while back, there was a clear path to follow. There is none here. I could use some advice so that the investment I'm about to make can be as informed as possible.

Is going back for an advanced degree a good next step? Should I try to make a move directly to some other company? If I do go back to school for an advanced degree, what would be best? To continue with computer science? Or something more relevant like chemistry or physics?

I appreciate your taking the time to read my e-mail. Whatever advice you can share, I appreciate.



Hi, Sean,

Thanks for your note. I'm getting these kinds of questions more and more these days. Give it a year or so and your local community college will likely have nanotech courses available. I've made note of them in various places on this blog. Also, your local university, if it wants in on some of the new federal funding available, is likely reorganizing its departments right now and figuring out how to add the "nano" prefix.

None of this helps you right now, though (and I'm probably the last person to give advice on how to get a job in the nanotech world). But it really depends on what flavor of nano you want to go into. If you want to stick to your field, there's certainly a future in computer modeling and bioinformatics. But before I blab on too much, I think I will throw this one open to NanoBot readers, who will gladly tell you where to go (they certainly tell me often enough).



walker"We don't want to say nanotechnology is bad. You cannot paint it with a single brush. But one has to accept that some of it probably will be bad."

Nigel Walker
Lead toxicologist of the National Toxicology Program's nanoscale evaluation program, quoted in The News & Observer

Pioneers with arrows in our backs
NanoTox a NIOSH priority
A new wrinkle for Eddie Bauer

Nano World: A new world of weapons

Blogger's Note: UPI's Charles Choi gives us another sneak preview into his latest Nano World column. -- Howard

The next Nano World talks about the potential use of nanotechnology in future weapons of mass destruction. I try to walk the thin line between alarmism and ostrich-headedness to talk about the near-term potential for nanotechnology in enabling new chemical and biological weapons that could prove undetectable under current arms inspection schemes.

Think globally, act globally
Military Nano Complex
Nano World: Just start me up

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Think globally, act globally

I wrote a recommendation for Daniel Moore, a Ph.D. candidate at Georgia Tech, for the Sam Nunn Security Program fellowship. Fortunately for Daniel, the program overlooked the recommendation from such an obvious security risk as me, and decided to accept him. So, in addition to his Ph.D. work, Daniel will study nanotech issues as they relate to national and international security. Daniel is a blogger, himself, but I'll insist that he funnel all sensitive information over to NanoBot. Here's an excerpt from Daniel's application letter. I think it shows the makings of a truly responsible scientist:

    mooreMilitary applications of nanotechnology have a potential rivaling that of nuclear weapons to radically change the balance of power and the security dilemmas of the world. Furthermore, the development of nanotechnology requires the cooperation of a vast number of scientists located at many different institutions around the world. The security concerns over the development of nanotechnology are many. It behooves both scientists and policy makers to understand all the implications of the technology. As we approach and enter an age in which material, structure, and device are virtually indistinguishable from each other, the contributions and challenges that the sciences and engineering disciplines bring to the security of the world are enormous. It is becoming increasingly obvious that this relationship between science and international security needs to be well understood and enhanced.
What Daniel writes about "material, structure and device" is an excellent point, and carries over to nonmilitary applications, too. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, set up to evaluate systems as either drugs or devices, is having a difficult time with this convergence. What Daniel says about cooperation from scientists around the world also shows the way forward, beyond questions of self-interest. It's already happening, through informal and formal channels, and the difference between technology that's purely Made in America or elsewhere is becoming increasingly irrelevant.

Nice work, Daniel. I look forward to learning more about this through you. (That is, if you don't have to shoot me after you tell me.)

'Bots get loose while professor is away
Does Georgia Tech have its top down?
Georgia Tech's Ambassador of Nano

Friday, May 20, 2005

Better, faster, stronger?

Better Humans? The politics of human enhancement
In partnership with The Wellcome Trust, Demos is setting out to stimulate a public debate about the implications of human enhancement technologies.

    The aim of this project is to initiate a public debate about issues of human enhancement in the UK. We’ll be commissioning a series of essays from different perspectives about the implications of human enhancement to be published as a Demos collection in January 2006.

    We’ll also be listening to public concerns and attitudes towards enhancement at a series of events during the summer of 2005. More here

You say you want an evolution
Congress is thinking about thinking
Converging ideologies against human performance

Related News
Inventing Our Evolution (Washington Post, registration required)
Human evolution at the crossroads (MSNBC)
Enhancing the Warriors (Fortune)
The Techno Sapiens Are Coming (Christianity Today, Jan. 2004)
Future Perfect? (The Ecologist, May 2003)

Thank you, Rick Snyder

To some extent, I am the Frankenstein monster of Rick Snyder's creation. Rick founded Ardesta LLC in Ann Arbor, Mich., to launch and invest in "small tech" companies -- initially MEMS and microsystems, but eventually came to include nanotechnology as well. To help promote the industry, Rick launched Small Times Magazine, which had the misfortune of hiring me in 2001. I wish Rick well as chairman of Gateway. He is a rare business leader in that he truly is a visionary. I have him to thank for the direction my career has taken -- for better or for worse -- and I will always be grateful to him for helping me to see the future.

Gateway Names Snyder to Succeed Waitt as Chairman (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)

    Gateway Inc. named board member Richard Snyder as chairman, succeeding company founder Ted Waitt.

    Mr. Waitt, who co-founded the personal-computer maker in an Iowa farmhouse 20 years ago and oversaw its rise to become the third-largest U.S. PC company by sales, resigned Thursday as chairman and a director at the company's annual stockholder meeting. The 42-year-old remains Gateway's largest individual investor.

    Mr. Snyder, who has been a director since 1991, served as Gateway's president and chief operating officer from January 1996 to August 1997. He currently is chief executive of Ardesta LLC, a maker of small technology products based in Ann Arbor, Mich. More here

Flirtin' with Freelance Disaster

Related News
Ardesta head to lead Gateway (Ann Arbor News)
Snyder to continue to work at Ardesta (Detroit Free Press)

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Another nose for news?

thingtwo1   thingtwo2

It appears something has gone horribly awry in my second experiment in bottom-up human molecular manufacturing. If you take a close look at the region between the eyes and mouth, you'll see the encasement of the olfactory gland ... Oh, who am I kidding? Of course you can see it. Who couldn't? The poor kid has a schnoz like Jimmy Durante!

Human Nanofactory Experiment: The Sequel
I've got more male!
Human Nanofactory in Four Dimensions

Read this if you're a real American

pcastI'll go over this point by point a little later, but for now, here's the U.S. government's assessment of its own nanotech program, in a nanosecond:

  • Them foreigners is catchin' up.
  • The way we're spending money, them foreigners probably won't catch up.
  • Potential risks do exist, but existing regulations have it covered, but we don't yet understand all the risks, so new regulations might be necessary, but let's first wait until we know more and base regulations on rational science and not fear. Is that clear?
  • Oh, and we should probably share information with them foreigners, but not too much because we need to focus on owning all the intellectual property.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Step right up

googlenanobots   googlebucky
Get yer red-hot 'bots. Have I got lucky buckys? Hell, I'm so crazy I'm givin' 'em away!

Monday, May 16, 2005


stern"Commissioner David Stern, who sometimes sounds as if he's just back from conferring with aliens in outer space, told USA Today of exciting new developments, like 'sensors, dust-like particles,' noting, 'I'm not sure where we'd sprinkle them. But imagine if a sensor, the weight of a penny and sewn into uniforms, could transmit broadcast quality images wirelessly?' Of what? A player's navel? What is this, nanotechnology or pixie dust? I thought that Fox camera on catchers' masks was bad enough."

Mark Heisler
LA Times, on apparently tech-savvy NBA Commissioner David Stern.

You say you want an evolution ...

    In 2003, President Bush signed a $3.7 billion bill to fund research at the molecular level that could lead to medical robots traveling the human bloodstream to fight cancer or fat cells.
unihumanThat excerpt from today's Washington Post piece, Inventing our Evolution (registration required), will likely upset all those familiar with the real 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act, which of course will lead to nothing of the kind as long as the act is administered by those who currently run the U.S. nanotech program.

Those who believe such "medical robots" to be firmly in the realm of science fiction would likely shake their heads at their own unsuccessful campaign to rid the media of these images. And those who believe in the feasibility of nanoscale robotics also disapprove of this language because it makes the general public believe a lie -- that the U.S. government is funding the popular, Drexlerian vision of nanotechnology.

And, besides, President Bush's conservative evangelical Christian beliefs would have prevented him from signing anything that smacked of "human enhancement." (Fellow Republican Bob Dole apparently had no such trepidations.)

I must have forgotten to mark World Transhumanist Day on my calendar because two major pieces ran on this theme. The other one, Human evolution at the crossroads, appeared on MSNBC, along with the picture above. Apparently, that's what we're all going to evolve into, larger eyes the result of "greater domestication."

I'm sorry, but the only thing I could think of when I saw that picture is that Mad Magazine was more accurate back in the early '70s in one of those images that has stuck with me since I was a kid. Mad assumed that the next step in human evolution would be to grow incredibly huge asses -- also due to "greater domestication."

In any case, as I've predicted for the past year or so, the stage is being set for the next political battle that will determine what you're allowed to do and what is verboten, if you're a scientist. And "nanotechnology" -- whatever that means, since it will mean different things to different people -- will stand front and center as both the problem and the solution. Everybody have your talking points in order?

Converging ideologies against human performance
Congress is thinking about thinking
Nano superhero is, appropriately, a golem

NanoBot Housekeeping

Some of you might have noticed that notes sent to my howard@lovy.com address are not making it to me, which cuts down on my correspondence nicely. But I like to read the mail I choose to ignore, anyway. Until I can get my one of my brothers to fix the family vanity address, please contact me at hlovy@earthlink.net. Thanks.

Nanobot intruder alert - this is not a drill


Somebody failed to inform two students and one professor at the University of Houston that nanobots can only be found scurrying about in the land of unicorns and leprechauns. Completely ignoring nanobusiness and nanopolitical dogma, this group of rebel students decided to enter the Visual Gaming category of the Imagine Cup, sponsored by that little-known, underground, fringe company that calls itself Microsoft.

Here's what Jonathan Dowdall and Mike Hall, those poor, misguided computer geeks, did to earn a spot in the semifinals:

    As visual gaming participants, Team ContAInment had to write an algorithm to build and control a team of nanobots within the simulated human body of a terminally ill patient. The nanobots are injected into the blood stream to locate and collect infected tissue. While attempting to deliver medicine to these sites, the nanobots are attacked by white blood cells in the patient's immune system."
Why, they don't know what the Freitas they're getting themselves into. Who's responsible for this direct violation of officially sanctioned science? It's Ioannis Pavlidis in the university's Computational Physiology Laboratory. Yeah, figures.

"Pavlidis," the UH press release says, "has gained a reputation for his work in medical imaging, bioinformatics, robotics, computational biomedicine and biometrics that have various medical applications. Being part of this research group has given Dowdall a solid background in applying computer science to medicine."

OK, Pavlidis, (Or is that really your name? Sounds to me like some kind of hacker handle, like "Neo.") be prepared for a government raid on your laboratory, your computer simulations confiscated and you and your students will be marched directly over to Rice University in your own hometown, where you will be issued a lab coat with pockets full of possible catalysts for quantum wire -- something you can actually hold in your hands -- or, rather, watch a real nanoscientist hold in his hands.

Looks like we got to you just in time. You will be assimilated.

Nanobots: Possible only when convenient
'Bots get loose while professor is away
The business of imagination

Nano World: Some attractive figures

Blogger's Note: UPI's Charles Choi gives us another sneak preview into his latest Nano World column. -- Howard

Nanomagnets have not received anywhere near the attention of nanoelectronics or nanobiotechnology, but nanomagnets have a potential that makes them extraordinarily attractive. The global market for nanomagnetic devices and materials totaled roughly $4.3 billion in 2004, and could reach nearly $12 billion in 2009. The largest take of the cake by far lies in information storage, but the markets in biotech and industrial applications will grow by double-digit figures as well.

Visions of Science Photographic Award
Spintronics pioneer teaches online class
Looking over the overlooked

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Diminished White House up for auction


whitehouse2Some of you might remember that the steady hands over at the Cornell NanoScale Science and Technology Facility apparently did not have enough work to do about a year ago, so they gave themselves some busywork -- like nanosizing the American flag and the White House. Actually, they millimetersized them, but used some tools of the nano trade to create flags 3 millimeters wide and 1.5 millimeters tall, and a bunch of White Houses -- one 4.5 millimeters across and four others at 510 micrometers across.

These small tokens of Cornell's appreciation were given last year to presidents Clinton and Bush for their respective roles in launching the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative and signing the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act. If nothing else, both efforts proved to be incredibly lucrative for universities that were prepared to add the nano prefix to their programs.

Cornell has about a hundred of those little things hanging around, so they're auctioning them on eBay until May 18. Proceeds will benefit Main Street Science, a "not-for-profit that supports the development of science learning activities for children and adults. "

No word on what became of Clinton's little instrument.

What, Prey tell, are you talking about?

I know what they say about people who live in glass houses, and that's why I'm ordinarily reluctant to pick apart the work of other journalists, especially those who are forced by an editor to learn all there is about nanotechnology in one day so they can cover a speech by a visiting lecturer. I feel their pain. So, I hope this writer from the East Valley Tribune will forgive me, but this story perfectly illustrates a few issues I've been thinking about lately.

First of all, somebody on the copy desk should have caught this first sentence right out of the gate: "Nanotechnology is all about small objects — less than 100 microns ..." Yeah, that's correct. Also less than 100 parsecs, kilometers and light years. But if you want to be more precise, go smaller into the nanometer range. Hey, is that why they call it "nanotechnology?"

But that's not really what drew my attention. This did:

    The reason these particles have so much potential is their size and the fact they don’t always follow conventional laws of physics.

    "That’s a double-edged sword," said Michael Moffitt, vice president of environmental services for Western Technologies, a Phoenix consulting firm. Moffitt was speaking to a group at the Semiconductor Environmental, Safety Association convention in Scottsdale last week.

    ... Moffitt says nanotechnology poses a couple of challenges for the cleaning crews. The first is detecting and measuring the hazards. Not that much is known about how some of these particles might interact with living tissue. More here

It's difficult to say whether Moffitt got it wrong or the reporter misunderstood what he said. But this illustrates perfectly a discussion started by Richard Jones at Soft Machines, called The Quantum Bridge of Asses (Apparently, my friend Richard feels the need to compete with me when it comes to important search-engine words. I ran pictures of asses, so he needs to put the word in a headline).

In any case, I've interviewed some of the researchers working on the effect of nanoparticles on living cells, and quantum physics never comes into play. They're not checking to see whether the particle turns into a wave, or whether there's a dead cell in this universe and a live one in a different dimension or any of that craziness that even left Einstein scratching his head and muttering about God not playing dice. No, they're using old-fashioned techniques grounded in classical physics to see what happens when you let a dendrimer or a buckyball loose in your body.

An then, the story kicks me in the ... um ... tushie on the way out with this one:

    Anyway "Prey" is going to be made into a movie. And Moffitt fears this will frame public debate.
I've heard these vague "Prey" movie references ever since the day the book came out. Over the past few years, I even assigned a couple of Tinseltown reporters to find out more about this "film." People who know people who know people say that there's no director and no cast, which means that everybody in the nano business can just calm down for a while. Your worst nightmare will not come true anytime soon. Unless somebody out there has more information on this, let's give the "movie version of 'Prey' is coming soon" stuff a rest.

Goo-be-gone, but keep that cwazy quantum
Love in the Time of Crichton

Wanted: NanoBusiness blogger


This could be you at NanoBusiness 2005, rubbing elbows with the beautiful people, and sending dispatches to NanoBot. My invitation was lost in the mail again, so if you're going anyway and would like to blog it for me, send me a signal.

My grassroots are showing
Meet the new nanoboss
Old-school networking at NSTI

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Let Nan and Bucky Dog be your guide

Nanotechnology for Grades 1-6+ (By Andrea Harmer, The NanoTechnology Group Inc.)

    Written primarily for children, but suitable for any audience, Nanotechnology for Grades 1-6+ is a glimpse into the exciting new field of study in science and engineering for the new millennium, known as nanotechnology.

    Nanotechnology promises to affect our lives in many ways over the next twenty years, biologically, environmentally, scientifically, and technically. This book will give you a basic understanding of why nanotechnology has become the new “buzz word” in science and why and how scientists, businessmen, engineers, and medical researchers are clamoring to find out more about how we can control and manipulate matter on the atomic scale. (Endorsed by the Center for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology at Lehigh University.) More here

I wonder if it's too late for Thurston to audition for the role of Bucky Dog?

'Molecularium' explores inner space
Overachieving undergrads
I got Study Hall, PhysEd, Shop, then ... Nanoscience? Whaaaa!?

Goo-be-gone, but keep that cwazy quantum

Quantum wells, asses, unicorns, leprechauns, PR people and eukaryotic DNA polymerase. Richard Jones has fed it all into his soft machine for an interesting post and debate on what the public needs to know about nano. Read it. Contribute to it. Then come back here and explain it to me.

Catchphrase Cop
How Stuff Does Not Work
Quanta on my mind

Friday, May 13, 2005

Self-replicating MacroBot?


"Humans do it, bacteria do it, even viruses do it," reports Nature. Now, robots can be masters of their reproductive domains. But will Lord Broers believe it? (One thing for sure, I just asked for it.)

Bell Labs: Buenos Aires del norte

Don't cry for me, Argentina. The truth is I'm going to leave you, for New Jersey. I'll keep my distance for a clean room.

Double-meaning headline

Nanotechnology's Miniature Answers To Developing World's Biggest Problems

Hmmm. Sounds like a headline THONG would write.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Bigger bucks for better metaphors

I've been busy with more nanobio research. Always in search of better metaphors, I was impressed by pSivida chief Gavin Rezos' description of the current state of pharma. "At the moment you're taking a large amount of drug to get to where it's going - the sledgehammer to crack a nut approach," Rezos told The Age of Australia back in March.

I like that better than my own, much-more-sloppy metaphor: "Throw spaghetti on the wall and see what sticks."

That's why he's going to help revolutionize drug delivery, while I will remain purely a consumer of his services. I could use time-released caffeine, targeted only to my brain and fingers, when I'm under deadline pressure.

Old-school networking at NSTI

Blogger's Note: Alan Rae, vice president for market and business development at Nanodynamics Inc. (they do the nano golf balls), must have decided it's time to end his career and pursue his dream of becoming a chicken rancher far, far away. Why else would such a sober businessman volunteer to guest blog on NanoBot? So, before he realizes what he has done, I'd better go ahead and run this. Thank you, Alan, for offering your impressions of NSTI 2005. -- Howard

By Alan Rae
VP for Market and Business Development
Nanodynamics Inc.
NanoBot Correspondent

Well, I just finished three days at the NSTI Nanotech 2005 show in Anaheim. It was held in the conference center in the Marriott, notable for being a Faraday cage (intended or unintended) that prevents cellphones and BlackBerries from working except in the areas where people are operating lawnmowers and leaf blowers…

This was my second NSTI, the first I attended and enjoyed was in Boston last year. The reason I came this year was to see how it had grown. Boy has it grown!

The booth area was much bigger than last year. The biggest booths were the national “pavilions” for Ireland and Australia, most companies were in 10x10 booths. Still not a lot of real “stuff” for sale and a lot of great concepts -- some way from commercialization.

The conference was the main event here and was very busy. Up to nine concurrent sessions! A mixture of science projects, shameless self-promotion and really good stuff. Great receptions, plenty of networking and inventors, VCs, startups and big companies mixing it up. The networking at this show is unparalleled.

Does it pay to go there? Well we gave two papers and had a booth. The papers were well attended by big audiences (standing at the back several deep in some), feedback was good and they generated serious booth traffic. We were totally swamped at the booth for the two full days, so I struggled to attend technical sessions and side meetings.

Part of the attraction was the diversity. This nano thing really works the linkages between chemistry, physics and the life sciences. I came away with more than 100 cards and talked real applications for our products in areas as diverse as cosmetics, building products, composites, space flight and electronics ranging from TVs to cellphones. For us it was great. I actually got a bruised hand from handshaking.

Boston next year should be even better. I’ll wear more comfortable shoes. And I know I can get my BlackBerry to work there!



"Naked protests work.** I didn't know anything about nano-fibers or that anyone even cared enough about it to launch a protest. But thanks to their stunt and the resulting coverage, I'm now at least passingly familiar with the matter."


Is this 'search engine optimization'?

You mean, this is all I have to do? (Yes, I know, there are times I make about as much sense as the passage below.)

    Technologies nano nanoparticle nano bag blitz madden nano system nano pel nano kitty nano wax nano shampoo nano what is coating nano proprietary nano wire nano american scientist Nano Cornell University: A nano-White House and a nano-American flag illuminating red, white and blue. I they've got funding and a job. But one scientist you can trust is Rice's Vicki Colvin. She's be so small as to be invisible: the nanotechnological dreams of the young American scientist K. Eric Drexler edges of advanced robotics. With Nano! Regis is focusing in, pointing Healthy Body Solutions. Fulvic Acid Nanoized! Learn how you can obtain optimum health, slow the aging process, and increase energy using this new technology. But wait, there's more here.
Search-term poetry that touches NanoBot
More fun with search terms that reach my blog
Fun with search terms that reach my blog

Monday, May 09, 2005

A new wrinkle for Eddie Bauer


eddie2notdown3Blogger's note: Here's the raw, infiltered press release from the anti-nano protesters we just can't keep our eyes off of. The pictures are a NanoBot exclusive.

CHICAGO, Ill. — On Saturday, at 1 pm, dozens of concerned citizens joined the public health group THONG outside of the Eddie Bauer flagship store on Michigan Avenue to protest the company’s use of untested “nano-fibers” in their “nanotex” clothing line which also boasts the “Teflon” label and are “wrinkle free”. THONG is a local Chicago public-interest group that uses nudity to educate people on detrimental threats to human health and the environment.

“We’re out here naked so people can SEE THE PROBLEM, nanotech is such a radical and unpredictable new technology, like biotech, that it takes something highly visible, like a naked body, to get people to focus on the need to stop corporations from using humans as guinea pigs for new, untested, and unstable new technologies!” said Kiki Walters of THONG.

“The Royal Society in the UK has issued their own report, recommending regulation to control exposure to nanotechnologies. We believe they have a point to make. We just wanted to make it even more obvious to people.”

Eddie Bauer’s line of water and stain resistant clothing utilizes nanotechnology, a radically new and untested technology that involves the manipulation of matter at the scale of the nanometer (nm), which is one-billionth of a meter. At this scale, materials behave differently than their larger counterparts, and can possibly be more reactive and toxic, posing unknown risks to human health and the environment. Though nanoparticles are not regulated by any government in the world, many products containing them are already on the market, including food, clothing, cosmetics and sunscreens, without proper safety testing for toxicity, posing risks to the health of consumers and retail workers.  Nano-Tex™ clothing contains nano-fibers coated with Teflon particles. Nanoparticles have been found to penetrate the blood brain barrier. Inhalation of many types of nanoparticles have been proven to be toxic to animals in lab tests. 

“Even the largest re-insurance company in the world, Swiss RE, has stated that they will not insure nanotech at this time.  At least this major financial player has openly admitted the potential toxicity of nanoproducts, and that these products present what they call long latent unforeseen claims.” said Natalie Eggs, another THONG member.

Update: For those who prefer video over stills, a previous THONG protest is included in this Quicktime movie.

This just in: Nano-Tex Adds Knits, Outerwear to Its Performance Apparel Roster (MarketWire)

Resistance is nubile
Nano industry hits bottom
UK misses chance to defuse nanotox issue
Pogue does the pants
Playing hardball with nano pants
UK sets up a fragmented nanopolicy
Nanopants miss the Bullseye

Space Elevator: The Music Video


If we had government by Google ...
The business of imagination
Got the world on a string

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Nano is a star on the neural network

One of the coolest frontiers now reachable thanks to nanotechnology is the ability to reproduce biological systems. That's why artificial retinas, "bionic" ears and other wonders are within our reach, now that we have the ability to go small. And there's nothing more central to this effort than to figure out how to artificially reproduce even the most simple fuctions of the human brain -- like speech, facial recognition or blogging.

That's why I stopped in the middle of my regular patent search when I came across this one, recently granted to Alex Nugent and his company, KnowmTech LLC. I stopped, then read it slowly, then read the whole thing a few times. Maybe it's just me, but Patent 6,889,216 makes for some fascinating reading.

The simplest way I can explain it is this: Life is not digital. Life is analog, with continuously altering and overlapping variables that cannot be dealt with through a series of programmed 1s and 0s, and "ifs" and "thens." That's why computers might be able to beat us at chess, where all variables can be digitized, but they're incredibly stupid when it comes to handling the various challenges that our own brains face every day.

The answer is not to simply pack more crosstown traffic on a chip, but to arrange them in a "neural network" that can recognize patterns and learn from from them -- much like the way I'm witnessing my own 11-month-old child learn to speak, walk and distinguish family from strangers. Where nanotech comes in, is the ability to simply form more connections and "neurons."

I'll let the inventor tell it in his words. I've edited out the redundancies necessary in patent-speak.

    Neural networks are computational systems that permit computers to essentially function in a manner analogous to that of the human brain. Neural networks do not utilize the traditional digital model of manipulating 0's and 1's. Instead, neural networks create connections between processing elements, which are equivalent to neurons of a human brain. ... Generally, a neural network is an information-processing network, which is inspired by the manner in which a human brain performs a particular task or function of interest. ... The elementary building block of biological neural systems is of course the neuron, the modifiable connections between the neurons, and the topology of the network.

    Biologically inspired artificial neural networks have opened up new possibilities to apply computation to areas that were previously thought to be the exclusive domain of human intelligence. Neural networks learn and remember in ways that resemble human processes. Areas that show the greatest promise for neural networks, such as pattern classification tasks such as speech and image recognition, are areas where conventional computers and data-processing systems have had the greatest difficulty. More here

Nano on the brain
Memories, like the CMOS of my mind
Converging ideologies against human performance

Looking over the overlooked

Blogger's Note: UPI's Charles Choi gives us another sneak preview into his latest Nano World column. -- Howard

There are many overlooked nanotechnology companies experts say may in future make as big a splash as the key companies often looked to as bellwethers for the field. Experts told Nano World of 10 overlooked firms they found had outstanding potential. These companies' products range from what may be the world's thinnest rechargeable battery to imaging techniques that can peer into living cells with resolutions of 50 nanometers or less.

Nano World: Just start me up
Nano World is water world
Nano World: Haves and have-nots

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Grindcore nanotech


"Residing amongst Amish Mennonites, abundant corn fields, and gnashing grindcore, I Want To Kill You hails from the small college town of Kutztown, Pennsylvania." That's how the band's bio begins. But what attracted me to the band was the awesome album cover and title above, "The Inevitability of Mind Control Through Nanotechnology."

Your NanoBot, grindcore department, is always on the job for you. So, I asked the band members what they were thinking. Here's the response:

    Hello, My name is Mike Ernstam. I came up with the idea for using nanotechnologly as part of my band's debut CD title. I will let you what the title means to me, although I can't speak for the rest of the band.

    Nanotechnology is very interesting to me, and I was reading about how Nasa will need to use this technology for its mission to Mars, which is what gave me the idea for the album title. Anyway, after reading a few articles about it in a few magazines such as Popular Science, I started wondering when these tiny little robots would start playing a role in warfare. Nothing about the title is based on fact, of course.

    The thought of injecting tiny robots into your bloodstream in the first place made me think of the many possible uses for such a technology. The thought of mind control through nanotechnology is nothing but a catchy title though. In the end, it is really only meant to stimulate the potential buyer's interest and not to create any theories about what nanotechnology will be used for in the future.

I think we can file this under "nanotechnology = cutting edge image and sounds cool," and that's also totally cool with me. Check out some album tracks here, including "Drawn and Quartered At Gunpoint," "When Your Wet Dream Becomes Your Worse Nightmare," and "Today Is Doomsday." Check out their video here, which shows just what you can do with a low budget, a lightbulb, some killer vocal chords and, yes, apparently your mother's basement.

You can buy their CD and other merchandise at kadns.com, iwanttokillyou.net or drprecords.com. Nice work, boys, in screaming the nano meme from America's heartland.

Musical proof of entropy
Crossing the blood-game barrier

Friday, May 06, 2005

Mo better moblog

Just experimenting with mobile blogging. I shot this cameraphone picture on Feb. 13, driving from Detroit to Boston. Caught Lockheed Martin at 85 mph.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The most dangerous man in the world

Whether you believe in molecular manufacturing or not, I think there's one thing all can agree on. This man must be stopped at all costs. Can somebody please tell him that he should learn just a little bit about nanotechnology before he writes about it? Thank you.

Guest blogger wanted

Anybody going to the NSTI conference who'd like to be a guest blogger for me? Drop me a note. I lack an organization to send me there. The price of loose canon-ism.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

If we had government by Google ...

Laine "Space Elevator"

Google news: 18
Google Web: 919
Google Groups: 5

Smalley "quantum wire"

Google News: 3
Google Web: 488
Google Groups: 4 (plus an interesting snapshot from 1997)

An armchair nanotube quarterback

Monday, May 02, 2005



Blogging? That is so early '00s. In 2005, we vlog. A portion of this video might not be office- or family-friendly.