Foresight Institute Logo
Image of nano

Archive for the 'Found On Web' Category

Climategate, or, how science works

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on November 25th, 2009

“Science advances, funeral by funeral.” (often attributed to Timothy Ferris) The blogosphere has been abuzz over the past week or so with the release of data — emails and program source and documentation — from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, one of the premier climatology research institutions in the world. [...]

A molecular machine in action

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on November 24th, 2009

From the protein crystallography beamline at Berkeley Labs Advanced Light Source: an action shapshot the Rho transcription factor from E. coli. The orange spiral in the middle is a strand of RNA, and Rho is everything else.   ( (h/t Technology Review blog)

Gallery – A joyride through the nanoscale – Image 1 – New Scientist

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on November 16th, 2009

Gallery – A joyride through the nanoscale – Image 1 – New Scientist. This New Scientist article has some nice images from Whitesides recent book, sort of a retake on the “Secret House” idea.  

Five essential things to know about evolution – Ars Technica

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on September 16th, 2009

Five essential things to know about evolution – Ars Technica. John Timmer dispels some common misconceptions. An understanding of evolution is key to understanding technological change — we individual humans are the mutations and crossover, but the dynamics of the overall process is similar.

Foreseeing the next paradigm shift

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on July 27th, 2009

The evolution of science moves, in Kuhn’s famous theory, not in a smooth accretion of knowledge but in a series of punctuated equilibria. This means that before a paradigm shift happens, there is an overhang where the majority of scientists believe something that the mojority won’t a scientific generation later. Thomas Bouchard, the psychologist who [...]

Moral Railroads

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on June 25th, 2009

Over at the Moral Machines blog, there’s a pointer to an AP story about the recent DC train crash: Investigators looking into the deadly crash of two Metro transit trains focused Tuesday on why a computerized system failed to halt an oncoming train, and why the train failed to stop even though the emergency brake [...]

Do the math

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on May 20th, 2009

There is at Technology Review’s arXiv blog an article “How to find bugs in giant software programs.” It’s an overview of a paper on arXiv which is a statistical study of program sizes and bug distributions in the Eclipse dataset of Java programs. TR says, So how are errors distributed among these programs? It would [...]

Codex Futurius on Gray Goo

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on May 19th, 2009

“Codex Futurius” is a project of Discover Magazine’s Science Not Fiction blog in which they ask science questions raised by science fiction.. Then they ask the National Academy of Sciences’ Science and Entertainment Exchange to reccommend them experts to answer the questions. Their first question came to me, and it was about gray goo … [...]

Playing with Wolfram|Alpha

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on May 18th, 2009

The highly anticipated Wolfram|Alpha site came online over the weekend, and here are some first impressions: They need a little work on the html — this was Firefox, but it looked the same on Konqueror.

Science art

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on May 14th, 2009

A nice display of serendipitous artistic images found while doing science, at Princeton: Hat-tip to Eurekalert.

Why we need Fab

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on May 13th, 2009

I suspect many readers have seen Neil Gershenfeld’s TED talk on fab labs, or read his book. In particular, notice the part where he comments that fabs are following the track of computers, currently in the minicomputer stage. You can see the same progression in my keynote for a SME meeting a couple of years [...]

“Cold fusion” redux?

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on March 24th, 2009

20 years ago, in the wake of the cold fusion excitement-turned-debacle, I noticed an interesting fact. The people doing the experiments were divided into two classes: The electrochemists who believed that fusion was happening were doing their experiments in plastic tubs and glassware, whereas the physicists who believed that no fusion was really happening were [...]


Posted by J. Storrs Hall on February 11th, 2009

Once upon a time, or so the story goes, there was a young man who was hauled up before the court on charges that he had killed his father and mother. He readily confessed to the crime, but nevertheless pled for clemency: after all, he pointed out, he was an orphan. Recently on his blog [...]

Will realization of the seriousness of climate change push the development of molecular nanotechnology?

Posted by Jim Lewis on January 6th, 2009

The answers of 151 thinkers and visionaries to the Edge Annual question for 2009 have been posted. The question: “WHAT WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING?” As phrased by John Brockman, Editor and Publisher, “What game-changing scientific ideas and developments do you expect to live to see?” In his answer, nanotechnology pioneer Eric Drexler points to a role [...]

Why the DMS debate is a good thing for nanotech

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on December 29th, 2008

One of the main reasons that we are confident in the overall predictions of molecular manufacturing is that there are many pathways to it from current technology and using currently understood science. It is thus something of a milestone that we have arrived at a fork in the road about which there is room for [...]

Faster structure determinations to benefit nanotechnology

Posted by Jim Lewis on February 13th, 2008

Two stories report new tools that should accelerate nanotech development by providing scientists with faster determination of molecular structures.

Nanotechnology article in University of Wisconsin-

Posted by RobertBradbury on March 24th, 2005

Keith Gillette writes "Nanotechnology research at the University of Wisconsin–Madison provides the subject for the cover story of the Spring 2005 edition of On Wisconsin , the UW-Madison alumni magazine. From the examples used, the article appears to use the term nanotechnology in its popular sense, drawing no distinction with molecular nanotechnology."

Nanotechnology and the poor

Posted by RobertBradbury on March 16th, 2005

The World Peace Herald and the Meridian Institute are discussing on the problem of whether nanotechnology will reach the poor.

Given years of history with open source software we already know how to solve this problem. This is pointed out by Bryan Bruns, a sociologist with the Foresight Institute, who promotes better policies on intellectual property, including full publication of publicly-funded research in ways that are accessible and affordable.

This feeds into a complex development problem. In an ideal world developments paid for by the public should be available to the public. At the same time business will be disinclined to push those developments to the marketing stage without some exclusive rights on the market. How does one resolve this problem?

Debate regarding mechanosynthesis feasibility

Posted by RobertBradbury on February 7th, 2005

Richard A. L. Jones, author of Soft Machines: nanotechnology and life is documenting a debate about the feasibility of mechanosynthesis between Philip Moriarty, a nanoscientist from Nottingham University, Chris Phoenix, Robert Freitas with some comments by Hal Finney. There may have even been some comments by Eric Drexler though he appears to requested those not be included in the documented exchanges.

The debate with archived discussions and current comments is here.

Nano-buzzword based marketing

Posted by RobertBradbury on January 28th, 2005

Dr_Barnowl writes "A somewhat dubious product was recently released by BatMax (See here for technical details.) It was apparently convincing enough to be posted by a Slashdot moderator (here).

The company basically claims it can drastically improve the performance of your mobile phone battery with what amounts to a stick-on decal. The spurious and unscientific descriptions of the technology (allegedly) involved are nothing special, apart from the association with nanotechnology.

It would seem that it's not just manufacturers of sunblock, tennis rackets and trousers that have cottoned on to the "magical" properties of putting a *10-9 in your product blurb. If this becomes commonplace, what kind of damage will it do to the funding prospects of projects promising similarly outrageous (but scientifically feasible) benefits as a result of genuine MNT?"

Ed. Note: Hmmm… a "nano-ceramic" — aren't most ceramics "nano-" in nature?