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Foresight Update 45

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A publication of the Foresight Institute


Foresight Update 45 - Table of Contents | Page1 | Page2 | Page3 | Page4 | Page5

 

U.S. Proposes $519 million for NNI in FY2002

The Bush Administration's proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2002 for the U.S. federal government would significantly boost research and development funding for nanotechnology-related efforts. The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), the lead agency for the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) has released a brief summary of federal nanotechnology-related programs in the Bush Administration's budget request for fiscal year 2002. It breaks out the FY 2002 funding request for nanoscale science, engineering and technology research and development in eight federal departments and agencies.

The total nanotechnology-related funding in the budget request is approximately $518.9 million ($485 million reported on April 9 plus $33.9 million in associated programs), 23% over $422 million approved by Congress for FY 2001. This is significantly more than the 15% increase noted in earlier reports, and even exceeds the $495 million the Clinton Administration originally requested for the NNI for FY2001.

The NSF summary also notes collaborative inter-agency efforts that do not fall under any single agency. Nanotechnology-related programs are one of the few areas in the federal research and development budget that saw increased funding in the FY2002 budget request.

An overview of funding levels for specific federal departments and agencies are given in the table below. The NSF summary provides details on how the funds would be spent within each department or agency.

Summary of Federal nanotechnology investment in FY 2002 Budget Request (in million of dollars)
Department/Agency   FY2000   FY2001   FY2002
Department of Defense*   70   110   133.0
Department of Energy   58   93   97.0
Department of Justice   -   -   1.4
Environmental Protection Agency   -   -   5.0
National Aeronautics & Space Admin.   5   20   46.0
National Institutes of Health   32   39   45.0
National Inst. of Standards & Tech.   8   10   17.5
National Science Foundation   97   150   174.0
Total**   270   422   518.9
(*) FY 2002 entry for DOD is subject to change as a result of the Defense Strategy Review now underway.
(**) Figures are not available for four departments that participate in the federal nanotechnology investment starting with January 2001: Dept. of State (DOS), Dept. of Transportation (DOT), Dept. of Treasury (DOTreas), and US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA).

The summary document ("National Nanotechnology Investment in the FY 2002 Budget Request by the President") is available online.

Additional information about the FY2002 budget can be found in


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Foresight Update 45 - Table of Contents

 

Foresight launches PriorArt.org, an Open Source invention disclosure site

For quite a while, Foresight has been looking for a way to help prevent the issuance of patents which shouldn't be issued, especially patents that ignore prior art in open source software. We have a special interest in this because nanotechnology development may be done using open source methods, and we want to protect that work. Foresight is also receiving key assistance from Santa Clara University Law School, which is cooperating with Foresight in this effort.

Foresight has partnered with IP.com to create the PriorArt.org website. The mission of PriorArt.org is to give inventors an easy and free way to disclose and publish inventions that they think should be in the public domain. We encourage openness, and we believe that inventors should be able to protect their ideas without going through the patent process. We believe that the patent office needs help in identifying which patent applications are new and innovative. By opening a new communication channel between inventors, users of inventions, and patent examiners, we create a win-win-win situation.

An article on the Salon.com website ("Patents are your friends," by Damien Cave; 21 March 2001) gives a good summary of the purpose of the project:

"Specifically, the joint venture will give open-source and free-software developers the chance to 'defensively publish', [and] place their innovations in a searchable software database. Since IP.com has already convinced the U.S. and European patent offices to check its database before issuing patents, inventors will be assured that patent examiners will see innovations that might otherwise be lost to unseen Web pages or college papers.

"Still, experts say that IP.com and Foresight aren't just setting a precedent for cooperation among hostile forces. They're also offering open-source innovations more protection than they've ever had before. By creating a central, legally strong database that's cheap enough to be accessible to all, [Foresight and IP.com] have given independent programmers the chance to 'write a patent claim without getting a patent.' "

"Intellectual property has typically been about cornering things off," says Robin Gross, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting free speech on the Web. "But this is about using the law to make technology free, open and available. It's the open-source community taking the intellectual property laws and making them work to their own advantage."

For additional details, visit the Foresight web page on the Open Source Disclosure Project, or the PriorArt.org website.

PriorArt.org, is generating controversy. Some complain that it's too "anti-patent", while others are concerned that it may have pro-patent effects. Details and an extensive online discussion appear on nanodot.


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Foresight Update 45 - Table of Contents

 

World science community seeks open library

A global movement had begun developing, particularly among bioscientists, to create an open public library of scientific papers.

A model archive, called "PubMed Central" (http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/), was set up by Harold Varmus when he was director of the US National Institutes of Health. Major journals which already deposit their papers there include the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the British Medical Journal. Supporters of the idea urge other scientists to sign a petition calling for the library, and to boycott journals unwilling to participate in the scheme.

As of the end of March 2001, more than 12,000 scientists from 120 countries have signed an open letter in support of the Public Library of Science initiative.

As a result of this initiative, several scientific publishers have already decided to adopt the policy advocated in the open letter, and almost every publisher and scientific society is discussing it. You can find out more, and add your signature to the petition, at http://www.publiclibraryofscience.org.

Detailed coverage of the movement can be found online on the New Scientist website and in an extensive Scientific American article that describes the proposal to publish the contents of all scientific journals on-line for free. The SA article also has links to debate over the proposal in Science, Nature, and other science journals

A working example

A pair of articles in the New York Times profile the Los Alamos electronic archive, an electronic, Web-based archive centered at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The archive provides a venerable example of a free, open source library of scientific papers.

As the main NYT article ("Web Archive Opens a New Realm of Research", by James Glanz, 1 May 2001) notes, the archive was founded 10 years ago by Los Alamos particle theorist Dr. Paul Ginsparg.

According to the report, The archive is transforming the quality of scientific research at institutions around the world that are geographically isolated and, in many cases, small and financially precarious. Besides spreading new ideas and concepts, the archive has encouraged multinational collaboration.

The archive is somewhat limited in scope, focusing primarily on disciplines in the physical sciences, including astronomy, astrophysics, condensed matter physics and particle physics. But in the areas covered, virtually all important developments find their way to the archive.

One researcher described the archive as so influential that he is sure most citations of papers written in his institute refer to the archive number rather than to the published version in the journal.

An accompanying sidebar ("The Archives Are More Democratic") presents the views of 21 scientists outside the United States who responded to a reporter's questions about the archive.


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Foresight Update 45 - Table of Contents

 

Institute for Molecular Manufacturing Report

The portion of Update 45 that constitutes the IMM Report is on the IMM Web site: http://www.imm.org/.

"Recent Progress: Steps Toward Nanotechnology" by Jeffrey Soreff


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"Nanomedicine: How Nanorobots Can Avoid Phagocytosis by White Cells, Part I" by Robert A. Freitas Jr.


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Foresight Update 45 - Table of Contents | Page1 | Page2 | Page3 | Page4 | Page5


From Foresight Update 45, originally published 30 June 2001.



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