Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Nano analyst's quantum leap

How many nanotech analysts can dance on the head of a pin? God only knows. But it appears there are a limited number in the mortal world. John Roy going to Global Crown Capital essentially shuts down all nano analysis (PDF) at his old company, WR Hambrecht & Co.

Nanotube jug band

nanotube2A model nanotube made from plastic jugs hangs above NT07: Eighth International Conference on the Science and Application of Nanotubes in Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, Brazil at the end of June. Ralph has pictures.

Nanotube interconnects and hot Indian babes
NanoTube: 'Infest Wisely'
Nanotubes and nanotox? Maybe not

Thursday, July 26, 2007

What makes 'nano' technology?

I've had dendrimers on my mind lately, for a number of reasons that I'll reveal soon. But, first, I wanted to share the illustration above. It's not a new one, but you're going to see it used in the news more and more as Starpharma's dendrimer-based anti-HIV microbicide, VivaGel, goes through clinical trials. (They're still recruiting patients, by the way.)

I've been asked many times why I'm so bothered by the perception out there that any kind of nanoscale particle contained in a product makes the product "nanotechnology." No. It doesn't.

Who cares? What's the difference?

Well, the dendrimer pictured above is a simple, yet illustrative example of what is meant by “nanotechnology.” The dendrimer is not a passive nanoscale material just waiting to bump into its target. The dendrimer’s tendrils are engineered to seek out and neutralize specific areas of HIV, working in a coordinated attack at various points.

That's why Donald Tomalia's invention is finally proving itself, by performing much better than other microbicides undergoing clinical trials in the fight against HIV in the developing world.

I'll have much more to say on this in the future. Stay tuned.

A fat Pfizer pushed away the pioneers
Nanomedicine story: The writer's cut
The Tao of Dow, revisited

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Spock's (nano) Brain?

Hey, I was just joking when I wrote last month: "... it would be fun to speculate on whether it'd be ethical to program your nanobots to download an exact replica of your own brain into your neighbor's poodle ..."

Somebody took me so seriously, they done went and created a Webinar on it, scheduled for July 20: Downloading Human Minds into Bio-Nano Bodies (Couldn't resist the reference to "Spock's Brain" above.)

rothblattNow, the press release says the event will be subsequently archived for free public access. I wonder if the archive will include the digitized mind of Martine Rothblatt, himself (pictured here), who is scheduled to speak about "Using computing substrate for a human mind."

Makes you think, doesn't it? But not too much ...

The ethics of creating 'nano ethics'

Friday, July 13, 2007

Spread some jelly on your quantum dots

"Jelly Dots:" They're shinier than regular ol' quantum dots, plus they're less toxic. (The following sentence is to be read aloud in the style of Homer Simpson) MMmmmmmmm ... shiiinyyy ... less toxic ... jelllyyyy dotttss ... yummmm ...

Taking toxicity out of quantum dots
The Springfield Syndrome

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Nanotech Stocks: Newton's Third Law Edition

Followup to this post (same fine print applies).

This ain't a stock chart. Around these Midwestern parts this summer, you have to be at least 52 inches tall to ride and it's called (appropriately enough) the Maverick.

Attention investors: Raise your arms, let out a yell and try to smile for the camera on the way down!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Stray thought on Digg

I wonder if the children running Digg.com understand that truth and popularity rarely have much to do with one another.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Wilson Center's nano numbers racket

Nanoarchitecture.net continues a line of questioning I've been hammering away at for a while, and that is the Wilson Center's list of more than 450 nanotech-enabled "products."

They really should change it to "nanotech-claimed" products, since the center apparently simply reads the labels and takes nanotech claims at face value. The 450-500 products number is increasingly being cited by the mainstream media as absolute fact.

I'm not certain why the Wilson Center continues its unquestioning nanocount. But it is important to remember that its Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies exists as a self-appointed watchdog for environmental and health risks. The more nanotech products it can claim, the higher the public alarm. The higher the alarm, the more the media and citizens are going to come to the Wilson Center for "answers."

This is especially true if the center reinforces "the unknowns" about the health and environmental impacts of nanoparticles. When it comes to public perception, it doesn't even matter if you take whatever unknown percentage of the Wilson Center list that actually does contain nanoparticles and check to see whether they have, in fact, been studied.

The point is to not confuse the public with facts, but to lead it toward the "obvious" conclusions based on the limited information contained within the loaded question.

In my mind, the exaggerated claims by the Wilson Center are no different than the manipulation of information put out by some green organizations or get-rich-quick investment gurus.

QuoteBot: Nano 'snake-oil'
Dear Boston Globe: A 'mashup' is not a survey
Ex-FDA official concludes FDA needs more dough
Nanotech hocus group
Indigestible nanotech claim
Guaranteeeeed, Jen - U - Wiiiiine Nano!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Russian Nanotocracy

Sounds like Russia is handling nanotech in a typically Russian fashion. Set up a single nanotech government bureaucracy to dole out billions to researchers who can figure out how to make their pet projects sound "nano-ish." Wait a minute. Isn't that how the ol' U.S. of A. is doing it, too?

In any case, here's a skeptical look from the Russian media:

Nano Corporation: investments in future or money laundering?:

"However, there is an opinion that the corporation will also serve as a money laundering machine due to its size and undefined tasks. It is to control all nanotech projects implemented in Russia and set out priorities. It is expected that the government will allot about 200 billion rubles (approximately US$7.75 billion) for a three-year period to finance the corporation activities, which is incredibly much for unsettled tasks. For this reason many are afraid that this money can be used improperly or simply stolen.

There is a problem that worries even scientists – the corporation is to form a monopoly in the nanotech field, which respectively limits opportunities of the free market to select the most competitive ideas. Today the Russian research centres work mostly on nano-materials, while such prospective and promising spheres as nano-biotechnologies and new nano-projects in the energy-producing industry are undersold." More here

Putin' nanotech in Russia
Fearless Leader Putin invented nanotech
Sakharov on Freedom

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Sakharov on Freedom

"... intellectual freedom is essential to human society — freedom to obtain and distribute information, freedom for open-minded and unfearing debate and freedom from pressure by officialdom and prejudices. Such a trinity of freedom of thought is the only guarantee against an infection of people by mass myths, which, in the hands of treacherous hypocrites and demagogues, can be transformed into bloody dictatorship. Freedom of thought is the only guarantee of the feasibility of a scientific democratic approach to politics, economics and culture."

-- Andrei Sakharov

'Freedom [is] the first-born daughter of science.' -- Thomas Jefferson
Feynman on freedom