Friday, August 25, 2006

NanoBot held hostage until Howard gets a job

Nanotechnology news hounds, please stand by. This is one of the few times in NanoBot's three-year history that I've had to hijack this blog in the name of the first two words of the title: Howard Lovy. That's me. And I will continue to hold this indispensable nanofont of nanoinformation hostage until I have a full-time job with benefits (four weeks of vacation and use of a company jet would be nice, too, but I'll start ... um ... small).

So, I'll start off this infomercial for me with some testimonials that colleagues have posted on the business networking site LinkedIn. At no time were any of these people bribed, blackmailed, medicated or otherwise coerced.

  • "Howard does unique and insightful research and has helped me keep fresh on topics in ways I wouldn't have thought." -- Scott Livingston, Managing Director - The Livingston Group, Axiom Capital Management
  • "Howard is an excellent editor. He consistently made my stories better by asking the right questions, and suggesting smart changes to my pieces. I would recommend him as an editor for any publication." -- Mark Frauenfelder, editor-in-chief of MAKE, O'Reilly Media
  • "I am a regular reader of Howard's blog, which is one of the more well read and respected blogs in the nanotechnology space. His forthright commentary on various matters related to nanotech is always refreshing to read in an increasingly hype-filled and paranoid world. His knowledge of the field is top notch." -- Deepak Singh, Director, NanoBiology Initiative, Accelrys
  • "Howard did an excellent job directing news coverage of nanotechnology at Small Times. He was clear on what made a good story for Small Times, insisted on smart analysis that went beyond the news, as well as clear definitions of the science involved. Howard also made sure his writers saw proofs of stories, a rarity in the online news world." -- Michael Fitzgerald, writer, editor
  • HandS"Dadda is a nice, big fat man whose tummy is fun to bounce on." -- Sam Lovy
  • Thursday, August 24, 2006

    Clip of Kurzweil on The Daily Show

    Here you go, NanoBot fans. Ray Kurzweil meets The Daily Show's Samantha Bee. Pardon the quality, but it's all the bandwidth I have. Enjoy.

    Kurzweil on The Daily Show

    dailyshow   kurzweildailyshow

    I interrupt my latest "I'm never blogging again until I can pay the bills" temper tantrum to bring you some breaking news. Samantha Bee, correspondent for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central, just did a report on futurist Ray Kurzweil. Yes, nanobots were given the full Daily Show treatment, along with that guy who chipped himself. Pictures above were taken from my cameraphone in my living room. Further bulletins as they become available.

    Friday, August 18, 2006

    NanoBot Song

    I have a theme song now. Fame and fortune are sure to follow.

    Ladies, Germs and Mad Scientists, I give you my friend Homeless Dave of Ann Arbor, Mich., and NanoBot Song.

    Thursday, August 17, 2006

    Life could be a Dream Cruise

    Cameraphoning Detroit's Dream Cruise from my Jeep while schlepping the kids to Cottage Inn Pizza on Woodward Avenue. See the photos. Collect the set.

    Wednesday, August 09, 2006

    Hype or real? Yahoo has few answers

    Another Yahoo! Answers topic: "Is nanotechnology all hype or the real deal?"

    Answers range from the equivalent of "You're already soaking in it" to "it doesn't exist yet." The thing is, they are all correct, depending on how you want to define nanotech. (I lean toward the latter, but not all the way).

    I guess the main problem I have with Yahoo! Answers is not that some of the "answers" are questionable, but that the questions do not stay open long enough for the self-correcting peer review process to go into effect. For that, I'll stick with Wikipedia.

    Who answers at Yahoo!?
    Nanotech an open question at Yahoo! Answers

    Welcome to the Cyberpunk future

    The Cyberpunk nerds grew up, got jobs and converted fiction into reality.

    SciFi and the scientist

    Friday, August 04, 2006

    Pinhead Angels: The Video

    Remember THRONG (The Heavenly Righteous Opposed to Nanotech Greed)? I'm not sure, but I think they won the Nobel Peace Prize a year or so ago for their incredibly clever protest against nanotechnology. Employing a different tactic than their anti-nano cousins, THONG, a group of fully-clothed "angels" performed their street theater at a nanotech conference in Buckinghamshire, U.K.

    This video harkens back to December 2004, angelic chants of "no no nano nano no, no no no nano no no," sage words like, "We believe that nanotechnology is going to be a major can of worms. It's going to release all sorts of harms onto society and onto the environmnent" and the group's presentation of its "can of worms" award to Harry Swan, an ex-Monsanto official and now a nano-evangelist.

    Nanotech protest
    Pinhead Angels

    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    Beware the well-meaning Westerner

    This spin on UNESCO's Ethics and Politics of Nanotechnology report concludes that developing nations are unlikely to lag behind the industrial world in nanotech research (this is correct, since poorer nations will likely focus nano research on their specific needs). But then it explores some dangerous, deadly territory:

    The report's editor, John Daly, says there is an urgent need for scientists to explore the potential hazards of nanotechnology, because materials at the nanoscale behave differently to how they do in bulk.

    "Where the effects of the nanomaterials are dangerous, regulation may be appropriate. But we don't have a very good understanding of where those dangers lie," he told SciDev.Net. More here

    Proceed with caution here. Remember DDT? The industrialized world, having already eradicated malaria in its own backyard, decided to impose DDT bans on the developing world. The result has been death in Biblical proportions. Beware the well-meaning Westerner who believes he knows what is best for the rest.

    If you don't believe me, listen to buckyball co-discoverer Sir Harry Kroto, who wrote in 2003:

    "Malaria has returned with a vengeance, and it is heart-rending that because of the DDT embargo - imposed with the future (mainly of westerners) in mind - a million African children die each year."

    Update: Andrew Leonard, my old editor at Salon (well, for the one article I did for Salon) has an excellent commentary on the blurry line between present-day nanotech reality and imagined dystopias.

    Without DDT, malaria bites back
    The Malaria Clock
    Death by Environmentalist

    'Nano Air Vehicle' is one-third mislabeled

    I wonder if those who are demanding "nano" labeling standards would want to crack down on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), whose Nano Air Vehicle program involves no actual nanotechnology.

    Just like a German company did in the "Magic Nano" con, DARPA is using "nano" as simply a synonym for "small." Any actual nanotechnology provided by Lockheed Martin would be pure coincidence.

    Update: My friend Jack Uldrich has the scoop at The Motley Fool.

    Magic Nano' nano? Naahhh
    Groups call for moratorium on nano-named products
    How low can nano go?

    Detroit heat, according to my Jeep

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    'Real' nano irrelevant to PopSci

    I have to chuckle every time this happens. Popular Science has a story on the old "nano bad/nano good" debate. The groups the magazine chose to represent opposing sides are the Foresight Nanotech Institute and the ETC Group -- both of which have been marginalized by the nanotech research and business communities in the United States and accused of engaging in dubious science. (In fact, you could argue that both are really on the same "side," if there really can be "sides" to a science. Both began their existence with warnings about irresponsible use of science and technology.)

    Anyway, as I've been writing ad nauseam for years, the popular press and wider culture all but ignore the nanotech research and business communities that have been working very hard to marginalize Foresight. It is still Foresight, along with others who have a better handle on what gets the general public fired up, that has the attention of the masses.

    The "legitimate" nanotech community should pay close attention to this phenomenon.