Sunday, November 25, 2007

Lorax Economics And Nano's New Name

Here's a piece of dialog that was in the TV version of "The Lorax," (click above, or here), but not in the book that I read to my kids.

The Once-ler: Well, what do you want? I should shut down my factory, fire a hundred-thousand workers? Is that good economics, is that sound for the country?

The Lorax: I see your point. But I wouldn't know the answer.

Excellent, cutting-edge stuff! Pure greed vs. pure innocence. And, as is usually the case, the villain is a great deal more interesting than the hero. That dirty ol' Onceler has thought about the issues, while the one-dimensional Lorax cannot see the forest for the trees.

Here's another excerpt:

The Lorax: I'm sorry to yell, but my dander is up! let me say a few words about gluppity-glupp. Your machinery chugs on, day and night without stop, making gluppity-glupp, and also schloppity-schlopp! And what do you do with this left-over goo? I'll show you, you dirty old Once-ler man, you!

Well, today, that very same dirty old Onceler man -- who, remember, is driven purely by the profit motive (forget about the end of the book, where the Onceler sees the error of his ways) -- could today become a "cleantech" entrepreneur. It's not that he feels bad about the gluppity-glupp and schloppity-schlopp, it's just that different times call for different methods of making profit.

However, just because the Lorax has the megaphone right now does not make him any less naive and unaware than when he could not answer a simple question regarding economics and labor back in the 1960s. The herd stampedes toward cleantech from nanotech and every other tech, yet the profits will come to only a few -- and even then, most likely to the biggest Oncelers on the block and not the small entrepreneurs.

After that, some elements of nanotech will be ready for prime time -- such as the new materials and technologies that will power our cars more cleanly and will clean up the leftover schloppity-schlopp. It will be confusing, since the Loraxes and other self-appointed watchdogs of the environment have already convinced many that nanotech is actually dangerous and polluting. So, nanotech might be sold by any other name, since the ol' nano prefix has run its course in this cycle.

How about this for a new "nano" name? "Thneed!"

After all, everybody needs a Thneed.

Son of McMonkey McBean
Cleantech's the new nano; nano's the new dot-bomb

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The scribe of Copernicus

"It is my hope that the discussions on Howard Lovy’s Nanobot are saved for future generations, because a lot of interesting, healthy debate went on there that probably looks, in form, very familiar to what similar public discussions concerning quantum theory, the heliocentric view of the solar system, representative democracy, and lots of other ludicrous ideas looked like. I get the feeling that the feasibility debate is over or, at least, it’s no longer an issue, I think everyone knows who the major players are and where they stand." More here.

Thanks, Damian. Thank goodness they don't burn heretics at the stake anymore. They just banish them to the status of just another crank in the blogosphere.

My point, however, was never that I believed or disbelieved in the feasibility of molecular nanotechnology. I approached it as a journalist, who saw obvious attempts in the business community to marginalize a school of thought for reasons that had nothing to do with science. So, I helped give voice to the marginalized, and I think I succeeded very well.

I'm not Copernicus. I'm the guy who wrote down what Copernicus said because nobody else would. I'm really not educated enough to know for sure whether the Earth really orbits around the sun.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

She branded me with science


tattoo1   tatoo2

tattoo4"I studied nanotechnology in school and got my enormous Bohr atom during that time," writes the guy above left in a blog post on The Loom called Branded with Science. This image popped up during a routine nanotech search, which brought me to what is apparently a trend among those whose relationship with science goes more than skin deep. You can view a gallery of science tattoos here and also over here.

... in a small galaxy far, far away ...

You've read about the nanotube radio here and here, but have you heard it play the "Star Wars" theme?

Or, if you don't like "Star Wars," try Layla (the original Derek and the Dominos, and not that lame acoustic solo version Clapton did later).

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Nano Tech EnTrancement