Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Farewell, NanoBot

What a small, strange trip it's been.

I have been covering nanotechnology in some form since 2001, and I believe I have taken it as far as I care to.

I am proud of the way this blog became a voice for those who believed government and business were taking nanotech in the wrong direction.

I did my duty as a journalist. I comforted the afflicted and afflicted the comfortable -- even at the cost of my own employment in some cases. Now, it is time to move on.

The various twists and turns in my personal and professional life have led me to study, and write about, the future of the auto industry and the corrupt U.S. criminal justice system. Expect to see more of my work in those areas.

Meanwhile, I leave this six-year NanoBot archive to the ages. And I will exit with the same words that I have often repeated.

What is nanotechnology? Well, what do you want it to be?

Monday, June 01, 2009

Before the Internet, I was a better journalist

You know, my farewell to social media has lifted such a burden from me that I am considering taking it a step further.

When I began my journalism career, I covered some pretty interesting, complicated stories -- from health effects of trash incinerators in neighborhoods, to controversies surrounding methadone clinics to cultural implications of bilingual education. I covered these issues and more back in the 1980s and early '90s -- before the Internet existed.

I got out more, I talked to more people, I made more phone calls, I read more books, I went to more libraries, and I think I was actually a better writer and reporter back then.

Since then, I have seen how the Internet echo chamber can take one wrong piece of information and, via that lazy reporting tool, Google, fling it around the world and back a hundred times until bad information becomes conventional wisdom.

I have seen how the availability of tiny fragments of half-information, mostly out of context, can turn lazy reporters into "instant experts" because all it takes to write a successful "news story" is the ability to package information well so that it makes sense within certain closed-loop assumptions.

I've seen how addictive personalities and egomaniacs can obtain instant gratification from "connections" with others hunched behind screens, yet still not know the first thing about real communication.

I have already rejected Web 2.0. I am almost ready to tell Web 1.0 to get lost, as well.

Maybe an hour a day to answer e-mail, read some news and look up a few things. Then, back to gaining knowledge the old-fashioned way -- by communicating in a real way with real people.

Just a nice thought for now. I might follow through.

Next phase of my planned obsolescence

My daughter Sonya (center, adjusting her cap), who educated me about nanotech coolness six years ago, graduated high school yesterday, and I could not be more proud.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Why is Michigan betting on batteries?

Here are some raw notes and thoughts along the way to an article I'm writing for a Michigan publication about Gov. Jennifer Granholm's push for a lithium-ion battery infrastructure to save my state from ruin. I'm skeptical.

What prompted this rant was a piece an editor sent me written by Granholm in the Huffington Post: Michigan Will Lead The Green Industrial Revolution. Granholm writes:

In Michigan, we're not only redesigning the current generation of vehicles to be more fuel efficient, but as the world's epicenter for automotive research and design, we're literally redesigning the entire notion of the automobile. More here

Well, up in Mackinac, Granholm finally acknowledged the obvious -- that Asia is ahead of us. Nathan Bomey of Michigan Biz Review quotes her as saying

"This battery realm is so natural for us because there is right now in the United States no mass production of batteries, especially for vehicles, to speak of. That battery production is happening in Asia. So what we want to do is be the domestic place where batteries are produced." More here.

Being "the domestic place where batteries are produced" is a fine goal, but a far cry from the delusions of grandeur she pushed for Michigan in that Huffpost piece, which was a combination of jingoistic cheerleading, some fact, some fiction and a whole lotta hope.

Here are a few points to be made, in no particular order. (The only nanotech connection here is that it involves innovation and new technology in general)

1. The Obama Administration and Gov. Granholm have decided, for various reasons -- some pragmatic, some political, some ideological -- that government is going to build a whole lot of incentives for a li-ion battery infrastructure for electric vehicles ... one that Japan and Korea have already built. So, the U.S. is focusing very inward -- short term creation of business, jobs (nowhere near enough to replace the manufacturing jobs that have been lost) and a U.S. auto industry that "appears" to be remaking itself.

2. Companies like Sakti3 in Ann Arbor are living off of venture capital funding but are eager for government funding in order to survive. They will develop their technology in the direction government wants them to go. If Obama decided that stimulus money would go toward urine-powered engines, we'd have a whole lot of piss-fuel companies starting up and claiming they are the future of the auto industry.

3. Government is going whole-hog behind one technology because it is perceived to be closer to market. However, real innovation happens when you hedge bets and try different technologies. Corn growers learned that lesson the hard way, when they had no place to sell their crop after ethanol producers went back on their deals.

4. What does Toyota and VW know that the U.S. auto industry does not? History says they probably know a great deal. Both of them are pushing full-force into hydrogen fuel cell technology. Toyota, especially, has always viewed hybrid electric and electric vehicles as transition technologies on the way to fuel cells. In Japan, fuel cells for home use are gaining in popularity -- getting the public used to the idea.

5. To see how a state government can create incentives to speed development of technology, look at California, where its Zero Emission Vehicle mandate convinced Toyota to move up the release of its hydrogen fuel cell vehicle from 2015 to 2014. Remember, it was not too long ago that the former Big 3 were whining about California's strict emissions standards. Now, there's no whining anymore.

6. Bottom line is that Michigan lost its status as a center for automotive innovation a long time ago. So, look at the two traditional centers of innovation: Japan and California. Both are creating companies, coalitions and government incentives that lean toward an automotive future that views battery electric vehicles as a step along the way toward a completely new hydrogen fuel cell infrastructure. Granholm is correct in her determination to try to make Michigan a leader in "something," so, why not compete with Ohio and Indiana to become a leader in li-ion battery manufacturing -- a U.S. leader, still behind Japan and Korea? But does that make Michigan again an innovation leader? Absolutely not. The innovators are still tinkering away, with or without government incentive and funding.

7. Li-ion batteries may not represent the future of the auto industry, and hydrogen fuel cells may not, either. It could be that, someday, to "buy American" means to buy electric, while those interested in buying something truly innovative and less polluting will buy foreign. Sounds very much like status quo to me.

Again, these are raw notes, so please tell me where I am right and/or wrong. I won't cry about it ... much.

Will batteries recharge Michigan’s economy?
Blogging for Center for Independent Media
U.S., at last, begins assault on batteries

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My nano career downsized again

Well, as a colleague of mine put it recently, "I look forward to publishing's post-apocalyptic era. Being in the middle of it is pretty torturous."

The nanotech magazine and Web site I've contributed to on and off over the years, Small Times, is "off" again. Budget cuts leave no room for me as contributing editor.

So, here I am again with a great deal of nanotech knowledge and nowhere to put it. If any of you know of a publication that might be able to help me put all this sci/tech/biz news swirling about my head to good use, please let me know.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Our Bodies, Our NanoSelves

Replicating Nanomachines
Originally uploaded by jurvetson
This beautiful image comes courtesy of Steve Jurvetson's feed on Flickr. Jurvetson, a venture capitalist who funds nanotech companies, describes this image of a bacterial polysome, which appeared in Cell, as a "9-head programmable nanofabricator."

Jurvetson goes on: "The ribosome reads the digital code of mRNA and manufactures most of what we care about in our bodies from a sequential concatenation of amino acids into proteins. The ribosome is a wonderful existence proof of the power and robustness of molecular machines."

Molecules, machines and miracles
The business of imagination
Three Nano Kings

So long, social media

I am getting rid of some unnecessary clutter that is doing nothing but adding additional layers to my core journalism work.

So, farewell Facebook, hasta luego LinkedIn and ta-ta Twitter. I am free of "social networks."

Continue to watch this space for nanotech commentary and further links to my work.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Vision = Seeing what others cannot

What began as my Twitter rant against other Twitterers turned into a Small Times blog post. It is about the ability to see not what is in front of you, but possibilities. It's about MEMS-enabling technology, but it could also apply to nanotech. Here's an excerpt.

MEMS-enabled PUMA: Look at the possibilities

I feel like it is 1909, rather than 2009, as I hear a derisive chorus of "get a horse" from much of the media mocking the MEMS-enabled PUMA prototype electric vehicle from General Motors and Segway.

An automotive correspondent from Newsweek wrote on Twitter that he "thinks the GM Segway vehicle is a farce." And even the editor of, who should know how to spot possibilities better than other journalists, Tweeted: "NOte to GM: car with no door = FAIL."

It is likely the PUMA uses the same MEMS gyro/accelerometer cluster as the Segway, which last I heard was supplied by the UK MEMS company Silicon Sensing Systems.

The mockery doesn't say much for the vision of many in my profession ... again. It seems like members of the news media -- the survivors who are left employed, anyway -- would have learned from the recent past to recognize the early stages of something that could potentially change everything. But, even now as newspapers close and bleed jobs, many continue to lovingly clutch onto their dinosaurs, failing to look up to see the meteor looming in the sky. More here

Getting down to nanobusiness
I sing the auto body electric
The business of imagination

Monday, April 06, 2009

Do-or-die at Delphi

I profile Delphi Medical Systems in a Detroit-area tech magazine called X-Ology. The company is a subsidiary of the bankrupt auto supplier Delphi. Like most businesses ... and workers ... around my neck of the woods, it's change or die. This is how Delphi is attempting to survive. Nanotech watchers will recognize one of my sources, nano and MEMS guru Marlene Bourne.

Delphi Medical Systems: A New, Inspired Course

The ancient Greeks, it is written, would gather around the Oracle of Delphi not to see into the future but rather to soak in the intellectual atmosphere that pervaded the crowds. In the modern age, the name Delphi Corp., for some, conjures up images of a suffering automotive supplier, but take a closer look and you can see the innovators of the 21st century gathering around it, picking up the broken links and discovering new directions. More here (free registration required).

Update: Here's a PDF of the Delphi Medical article

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Google kills 'NanoRobot Infection'

I just received this e-mail:

from Google Video Support
date: Thu, Apr 2, 2009 at 9:20 AM
subject: Google Video Content Identification

Dear member,

This is to notify you that your video "Government Created Killer NanoRobot Infection" from your Google Video account has been disabled because it has been identified by our Content Identification tools as potentially lacking the necessary copyright authorization for use on the Google Video site. Content Identification is a program that analyzes similarities in audio or video between user videos and a library of reference content provided to us by copyright owners. When a video matches a reference file, that video is automatically disabled.

Darnit, and it was a great clip from "The Office." Oh well. In the end, Google will getcha. I just hope they don't kill my clip of Jim Carrey and Conan O'Brien talking quantum physics

Monday, March 23, 2009

Friday, March 06, 2009

Twitter took the nanotech stars

I have a new blog post at Small Times. It's all about the rock stars of nanotech's Twitter universe. Here's an excerpt:

The largest criticism I have of the NanoTwitterVerse is that it at times can be a feedback loop -- the usual suspects talking inside baseball to one another, or "retweeting" one another to the point where only one point of view bounces around an echo chamber. That will change as more nanotech voices join the conversation. More here

Canada's nano climate getting colder
My 'respectable' blog launches at Small Times

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Nantero: Nanotechnology Jobs of the Day

I am, of course, extremely underqualified for the nanotech jobs I come across in my own quest for work. Below are a couple of job listings from a company called Nantero. They're working on carbon nanotube based memory devices.

I wrote about Nantero and its technology here, which then set off a spirited debate over the merits of both the company and its methods.

Anyway, things can't be going too poorly if they're hiring in this economy. Here are the listings.

Senior Coat Engineer

Under general supervision, develop coat and characterization methods (including defects and defectivity), assess film quality, work with end customers to meet the stated quality requirements and lead a team of engineers in the processing of silicon wafers in the clean room. More here

Senior Characterization Scientist

Scientist with 3-5 years experience with analytical chemistry, developing analytical methods, QC methods, validation tests for chemical products, such as colloidal systems and/or liquid carbon formulations, slurries or colloids,... More here

Energetics: Nanotechnology Job of the Day
IBM: Nanotechnology Internship of the Day
Nantero sings a happy tune

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My Resume Is Updated; Act Now!

Someday, I'll create a fancy site for myself, with links to all my clips and an interactive resume with lots of ... um ... Java and flash and ... important-techy sounding words like that.

But, for now, here's a simple, updated resume.

I write. I edit. When I'm not covering the automotive or medical device industries here in Detroit, I speak two different dialects of nano (short-term and long-term). So, what's not to love?

In case you missed it, prospective employers, here's that resume link again.

Product brags it's 'NOT' nano

With nanosilver on the ropes with EPA regulations, we're going to see more of this ...

"Sanitized Silver is NOT Nanotechnology: Sanitized Silver is neither nanotechnology nor nanosilver." More here

EPA decides to regulate what it already regulates

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New Catchphrase in Congress is not nano [video]

The U.S. House recently passed a new bill reauthorizing the National Nanotechnology Initiative. Now, it's the Senate's turn to work on similar legislation.

Click on the video above, or go here, to see some of the at-times tense debate swirling around this legislation.

Jim Carrey and Conan O'Brien talk quantum physics
'Transhuman cybersomething crazy ...'
HP teaches us the 'n' word

Sunday, February 15, 2009

IBM: Nanotechnology Internship of the Day

Today's posting is from IBM in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., where an intern will be working with the likely successor to silicon: carbon nanotubes. And if IBM says so, then it probably will be so. Here's the listing:

Our Nanoscience & Nanotechnology group is deeply involved in the design, fabrication, and study of novel carbon-based, i.e. graphene and nanotube, electronic and optoelectronic devices. These are envisioned as successors to the current, primarily silicon-based technology.

One of the key limitations of the high density silicon IC's is excessive power dissipation. This issue has not been fully addressed in the fundamentally new carbon-based devices. Our group has initiated an extensive experimental and theoretical study of the power dissipation pathways, of thermal effects on the operation in these systems and ways of directing dissipation.

We are interested in hiring an Intern with an understanding of fundamental transport mechanisms in nanosystems and numerical computation abilities. The hired candidate will couple with on-going theoretical research in modeling experimental results in this area. More here

Nanotube interconnects and hot Indian babes
Energetics: Nanotechnology Job of the Day
Nantero sings a happy tune

Nad and his Amazing NanoBots

NYU's Nad Seeman continues to astound with his amazing DNA nanorobots.

These little buggers are made using DNA origami, have two arms and can be used as construction workers to build the scaffolding for new structures.

These 'bots are made for walkin'
NanoEngineering puts on a happy face
Tag-teaming with nature to build nanomachines

Nanotech defined

Here's the most-accurate and concise definition of nanotechnology I have seen in a while:

Nanotechnology refers broadly to a field of applied science and technology whose unifying theme is the control of matter on the molecular level in scales smaller than one micrometer, normally 1 to 100 nanometers, and the fabrication of devices within that size range. For scale, a single virus particle is about 100 nanometers in width. More here

It comes from a post by Mat Nayie, but I am unclear as to whether he wrote it, just posted it or of the original context of the article. The definition, unfortunately, is the best part of the article. The rest paints in too-broad brushstrokes the possible energy applications of nanotechnology.

And those who doubt the feasibility of "Drexlerian" nanotechnology might be annoyed by the illustration of diamondoid gears, wheels and other imaginary doodads accompanying the article.

Oh, and the "Great Things Come In Small Packages" headline might annoy a few old-time nanopundits (myself included).

So, anyway. Nice definition. We'll leave it at that.

NanoBot Defined
Nanotech? Nahh, doesn't exist yet
When nanotech 'industry' believes its own PR ...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Autism ruling a victory for real science

I am glad to see at least one good thing come out of the ordinarily twisted and corrupt U.S. justice system, with a federal court ruling that autism is not caused by childhood vaccinations.

I hope that this will put a stop to a growing problem of misinformed parents refusing to vaccinate their children, thus putting everybody at risk for diseases that previously had been conquered.

I have been writing about this issue for years, with the nanotech connection being a disconnect between scientist and "consumer" of science.

The Asperger/Nano Connection
The knowledge void: Here there be monsters
Somewhere between scientist and consumer, the message is lost

Debate continues on Reddit

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Jim Carrey and Conan O'Brien talk quantum physics

Back, by popular demand, Jim Carrey and Conan O'Brien discuss quantum physics.

Einstein's dice and the nano Sopranos
Space Elevator: The Music Video

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Canada's nano climate getting colder: Part II

Dexter Johnson at IEEE Spectrum's Tech Talk has an excellent followup to Canada's pending decision to chase more nanotech innovation south of its border. Dexter writes:

Based on the labeling logic of Canada, it’s a little curious that any product with nylon in it doesn’t say, “Sulfuric acid helped make this” or when you buy your next laptop "Here’s a list of all the poisonous materials used to make your computer." More here

Canada's nano climate getting colder
Big Three Are Dead; Long Live The Little
Nano knowledge going south? Blame Canada!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Canada's nano climate getting colder

I have a new blog post over at Small Times. Here's an excerpt.

New nano rules may leave Canada out in the cold

If you ask Canadian entrepreneur Neil Gordon about new rules coming next month requiring companies to detail their use of engineered nanomaterials, he'll tell you it's just another example of his government placing artificial constraints on nanotech commercialization.

That's why Gordon is now the ex-president of the now-defunct Canadian NanoBusiness Alliance.

"If Canada is becoming the first government in the world to require companies to provide information about their use of 'potentially' harmful nanomaterials in products, then there is another reason for entrepreneurs to avoid commercializing nanotechnology products in Canada," said Gordon. More here.

Nano knowledge going south? Blame Canada!
Vive le nanotechnology libre
My 'respectable' blog launches at Small Times

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Self-replicating nano-ethics

Think tank that studies the ethics of nanotechnology urges Congress to fund more studies on ethics of nanotechnology.

False claims inform consumers as they 'talk nano'
Wilson Center's nano numbers racket
Indigestible nanotech claim

Thursday, January 22, 2009

More Detroit Auto Show Blogging

DENSO’s big bright green diversionary machine

DENSO warned of its first operating loss since 1950. The main company it supplies, Toyota, says it will see its first losing quarter in 71 years.

So, what else could DENSO Veep Hiromi Tokuda do at the auto show except talk about algae?

Yes, algae. More here

More assault on batteries at Michigan Messenger
Blogging for Center for Independent Media
My 'respectable' blog launches at Small Times

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

'Restore science to its rightful place'

"We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age."

-- President Barack Obama's inaugural address

Monday, January 19, 2009

More assault on batteries at Michigan Messenger

Michigan Messenger

The Michigan Messenger has the latest in my coverage of the Detroit Auto Show.

The Messenger is part of a growing family of news sites ready to take over where major metro dailies are sadly lacking these days. It was launched by the nonprofit Center for Independent Media.

If you're not in Michigan, no problem. You can check out the center's publications in Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico and Washington.

In today's Messenger, I continue my obsession with battery technology, which -- as I have written before -- is directly related to nanotechnology.

Will batteries recharge Michigan’s economy?

They will if Congress -- and Detroit's critics -- come to understand that the auto industry is infrastructure.

DETROIT — A year ago, a confident Chrysler opened the North American International Auto Show with Dodge trucks herding cattle down Jefferson Avenue.

This year, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm came to Cobo on a mule.

A mule, of course, is Detroit-speak for a prototype automobile, and while Granholm’s ride boasted significantly less horsepower than last year’s methane-emitting stampede, the governor seemed at last on the right road after years of a visionless policy for Auto Industry 2.0. More here

Blogging for Center for Independent Media
My 'respectable' blog launches at Small Times

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Energetics: Nanotechnology Job of the Day

Freelancing is fine, but I am in perpetual search of a full-time job, with benefits. Yeah, I know. Me and a few million others.

But I come across nanotech-related work in my job search that I am quite underqualified for and that use pretty big scientific words in their descriptions, so I figured maybe NanoBot readers might get a few job leads.

I'll post these from time to time ... whenever I have the time.

The job below, in green energy, seems like a growing field -- although I hope the "energetics" in the company name does not refer to "nanoenergetics," which involves the nasty business of blowing up stuff ... and people.

Nanotechnology/Materials Scientist, Energetics Inc.

Energetics seeks a Nanotechnology/Materials Scientist to be located in our Washington, D.C. office.

The selected candidate will assist clients in DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program with a variety of activities required to run an effective technology research and development program. Specifically, the candidate will assist EERE’s Industrial Technologies Program with its R&D programs in nanomanufacturing, materials, and other areas. Responsibilities may include:

  • Evaluating energy, technology, and market trends.
  • Evaluating technical and economic feasibility, identifying and assessing applications and markets, and projecting future impacts of new technologies.
  • Characterizing technical and market barriers to commercialization and deployment, and evaluating strategies to overcome these barriers. More here
  • Friday, January 16, 2009

    My 'respectable' blog launches at Small Times

    Small Times launched my new blog today. Here's where I behave myself a little more and stick to the subject of nanotech, MEMS and microsystems.

    Crazy rants will, of course, remain here on NanoBot.

    The RSS feed for Small Tech Talk is here. Sample below:

    U.S., at last, begins assault on batteries

    Today, the race is still for second place, behind Asia. And, as I covered the North American International Auto Show again this year, it looks like nanotechnology has come in second, too. GM chose Compact Power, a subsidiary of the Asian LG Chem, to provide the lithium-ion batteries for the Volt.

    A close second was A123 Systems, whose nanophosphate formula is an important ingredient in its li-ion batteries. The reason, according to GM, was the the formula seemed too experimental, the company too inexperienced and, most importantly, the battery manufacturing infrastructure just does not yet exist in the United States. More here

    Blogging for Center for Independent Media
    Where technology meets humanity
    U.S. battery makers finally find the 'on' switch

    Tuesday, January 13, 2009

    Blogging for Center for Independent Media

    I took this picture of NBC weatherman Al Roker taking a "test drive" of a Ford Shelby Mustang at the Detroit Auto Show because, well, why not take a picture of Al Roker? That's all that needs to be said there.

    I'm blogging from the North American International Auto Show this year for a publication called the Michigan Messenger. It's online only, and part of a growing family of progressive news sites launched by the nonprofit Center for Independent Media. I first came into contact with them at a conference I attended in Lansing, Mich., more than a year ago.

    As my hometown Detroit newspapers slowly become shadows of their former selves, it is great to be freelancing for a publication that still asks tough questions. Last year, I blogged the auto show for WDIV-TV in Detroit, which failed to even promote the blog since it was not very ... um ... cheerleading.

    Below are some samples of what I've written about the auto show, but more will be posted in the next few days -- along with longer pieces (yet to be written) about the big focus on lithium ion batteries for the future of the auto industry and the future of many Rust Belt communities. More to come

    RIP internal combustion engine

    Back when I was a copy editor for The Detroit News a decade ago, our ultraconservative editorial page would go on red-faced tirades against then-Vice President Al Gore for his prediction of the end of the internal combustion engine. Today, The Detroit News is on its way out and, well, so is the internal combustion engine. More here

    Who stole the electric car — redux? GM Volt in ‘07 and in ‘09

    When General Motors unveiled its electric hybrid Chevy Volt an economic epoch ago — at the 2007 North American International Auto Show, what it gave us (PDF 219k) seemed almost too good to be true. GM appeared to “get it” when it came to the new environmental consciousness sweeping popular culture. For the first time, a major auto company acknowledged the eventual demise of the internal combustion engine. What it gave us was something of a transitory nature, but it was a start. More here

    Instant Karma’s going to get you? The Karma and the Tesla -- West Coast invades Motown

    At last year’s auto show, I wondered whether Karma could also mean “covering all bases.” A main investor in Fisker Automotive, which makes the all-electric Karma, is Vinod Khosla, an important player in the next phase of the auto industry — whatever form that may take. More here

    EcoXperience tiptoes through the dying tulips

    Here’s Michigan Economic Development Corporations’s EcoXperience track in the basement of COBO Hall. My initial impression? It smells like rotting vegetation down there. In the picture, though, you can see one of the cool little Jetsons’ cars in the background. More here

    U.S. battery makers finally find the 'on' switch
    Innovation in Detroit ... yes, Detroit
    Where technology meets humanity

    Saturday, January 10, 2009



    Monday, January 05, 2009

    Al Franken and the 'Nano-Bees'


    At last, Minnesota has gerrymandered a joke we can all take seriously. Al Franken will be declared the winner in the Senate race.

    What does this have to do with nanotechnology, you may ask? Well, you might know that nanotech is playing an important role in helping some Minnesota communities recover from bad times. So, I searched and searched for anything Franken might have said about the subject. To my disappointment, the only item I could find came from an Air America bulletin board:

    There was a segment where Al and Katherine talked to someone about nanotechnology and Al came out with this idea of having Nano-Robot Bees for military purposes. The discussion then devolves into about 3 or so minutes about the potential use of the Nano-Bees. It was the funniest thing ... More here

    Oh, Al. I'll have to find you a Minnesotan or two who can educate you about all the nanotech economic development going on in your own frigid state.

    Meanwhile, enjoy the picture above. The photo, and the baby being kissed, belongs to Robin Marty, a Minnesota journalist I met more than a year ago at a journalism conference in Lansing, Mich.

    The Great State Of Nanosota

    Friday, January 02, 2009

    Nanoscientist scores 'Tar Heel of the Year'

    Misspellings and grammatical errors aside, this writer to the Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer makes a great point about what our culture values from our universities.

    tarheelAthletes are admired and nanoscientists ... not so much.

    But, thanks to N&O newspapers, UNC-Chapel Hill nanotech researcher Joseph DeSimone is being recognized for his work on a new class of nanoparticles that can take any shape, with the goal of making chemotherapy easier for cancer patients.

    The N&O named DeSimone "Tar Heel of the Year". And while I am not entirely certain what exactly a Tar Heel is, I can only suppose that it is a good thing to be named the best one of the year.

    Not sure what his rushing record was for the 2008 season. Nor do I care.

    Nano Carolina
    Not your father's 'shop' class
    Teen Meets The Nano Clumps

    U.S. battery makers finally find the 'on' switch

    U.S. battery manufacturers have, at last, realized that working solely within their own closed, proprietary worlds will not help them catch up with the Asians, who are laps and laps ahead in the race to power next-generation electric and hybrid vehicles.

    Somebody finally had the bright idea to form an industry consortium to move U.S. innovation along.

    Recently, as battery consultant Ralph Brodd declared that the country "who makes the batteries will one day make the cars," 14 U.S. companies, including Altair Nanotechnologies, formed an alliance to speed the development and manufacture of li-ion batteries.

    Hopefully, this group will do for batteries what SEMATECH did for the U.S. semiconductor industry.

    And on the government side, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm proved she understood what was at stake when she said on Meet The Press a couple of weeks ago that lack of government funding would mean "replacing our reliance on foreign oil with the reliance on foreign batteries, because it's the battery that's going to be driving the electric vehicle in the future."

    The Michigan Legislature followed up the governor's words by approving up to $335 million in tax credits to make the state a center of lithium-ion innovation and manufacturing.

    Also recently, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) appeared at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with the chairman of nanotech li-ion company Ener1 Inc. at his side, to propose $1.6 billion in federal grants to try to put U.S. battery makers in the passing lane.

    It's still a race for second place, but at least the United States has reached the starting line.

    Innovation in Detroit ... yes, Detroit
    Big Three Are Dead; Long Live The Little
    Nano Powering The Auto Revolution