Jerry Glenn, Director of the Millennium Project sponsored by the American Council for the United Nations University, brings our attention to the 2005 State of the Future report, now available for ordering. He points out that the “Royal Society of Arts in London has just published a distillation, of the distillation, of the distillation of [...]
Archive for the 'Reviews' Category
It's not available until May 6, but on Amazon you can preorder a copy of Nanofuture: What's Next for Nanotechnology by J. Storrs Hall, Ph.D. From the foreword by Eric Drexler: "Reaching a solid understanding of new technology–the understanding necessary to judge its effects–is an intellectual adventure. I could not wish you any better guide than Josh Hall. Before the term 'nanotechnology' had reached a tenth of its current popularity, he had already formed the first worldwide Internet discussion group and led the discussion for a decade. He has done research and development in nanotechnology since the early days, with multiple inventions and discoveries to his credit…You'll get the whole story here." The price is right too: only $18.48.
Just received a review copy of Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track: The Letters of Richard P. Feynman, edited by his daughter Michelle, sister of Foresight member Carl Feynman. It includes letters about the two miniaturization prizes that Feynman offered personally, and quite a few new photos. I had the privilege of attending a couple of his informal tutorials for Caltech students — he made the most challenging physics seem so understandable. Foresight is proud to administer nanotech prizes in his name.–CP
What do you think were the most important nano-related developments of 2003? What were the downsides and upsides of nanotechnology's breakthrough into the mainstream?
Phillip Ball from Nature magazine makes his case, from a British perspective, here.
from the gradual-future-shock? dept.
redbird (Gordon Worley) writes "Most of this is filled with spoilers, so I recommend that, unless you've seen the film, don't click read more. For those of you looking for a basic review, this is an okay movie (I'd give it about 2.5 out of 5 stars), but certain aspects of the film really ruin it. Basically, I consider this a cute movie about subhuman AIs and is not dangerous to the public's perception of AIs (in fact, it may actually help it by gradually future shocking them)."
Read more for the redbird's review . . .
from the choice-of-weapons dept.
There has been much discussion on Nanodot recently about regulating nanotechnology. Some of the scarier scenarios of abuse come from the threat of nanoweapons unleashed by terrorists. Jessica Stern's book, The Ultimate Terrorists, offers a useful framework concerning the choice of weapons by terrorists, within which potential threats from terrorist use of nanoweapons can be considered. - Bryan
Read More for a review.
from the tomorrowland dept.
Bryan Hall writes "Raymond Kurzweil, author of 'The Age of Spiritual Machines' has a new website showcasing the ideas of leading visionaries and breakthrough web technologies. The site is hosted by Ramona, a real-time virtual hostess, using natural language processing, real-time facial animation, and other technologies to answer visitors' questions vocally. Ramona is programmed to verbally explain hundreds of `thoughts' (such as `artificial intelligence') to visitors as well as provide articles, glossary definitions, links, and other information…A major focus of the site is the exponential growth of technology, leading to the 'Singularity,' which Kurzweil described as “future accelerated technological change so rapid and profound that it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history.'' The site's content includes parts of Kurzweil's forthcoming book, “The Singularity is Near.''"
from the dramatic-futures dept.
I bought Pine and Gilmore'sbook,The Experience Economy a few years ago, but only recently got around to reading it. I discovered something both more profound and more practical than I had expected. I keep seeing new relevance for their ideas about increasing demand for experiences and transformations, including thinking about the implications of nanotechnology. Comments invited. –Bryan
Read More for the review.
from the getting-oriented dept.
A well-done brief overview of molecular nanotechnology by University of Georgia chemist Dennis Rouvray is available at chembytes: "[Most] scientists were persuaded that nanotechnology was an unobtainable objective. Indeed, it was not until the second half of the 20th century that a few intrepid individuals risked raising their head above the parapet to question entrenched authority on the subject…Even with our current rudimentary chemical nanotechnology, it has been possible to fabricate a surprising range of simple nanomachines. These include abacuses, batteries, brakes, gears, plugs, rotors, ratchets, sensors, shuttles, sockets, switches and wires."
from the funding-difficult-goals dept.
Senior Associate WillWare writes "Ronnie Horesh, an economist in New Zealand, has recently published a book on his notion of social policy bonds. The government issues bonds at a low price, redeemable at a high price when a social goal has been accomplished. This allows the government to set and fund social agendas while leaving the details of implementation to the free market."
from the who-needs-lectures dept.
To do nanotechnology, one had better know a lot of chemistry. Chemistry is often poorly taught, so going to school isn't necessarily the answer. Instead, or in addition, get started with Bonding II from Cybered, reviewed in the 15 Dec 2000 issue of Science: "Bonding II provides electronic instruction on the basics of chemistry. Packaged on a Macintosh/Windows hybrid CD-ROM, the tutorial contains a narrated set of modules covering fundamental concepts for a freshman-level chemistry class." At $130, this is a lot cheaper than a college class, but we'd prefer an open source version: anybody know of one? Meanwhile, Cybered has other chemistry modules as well.
from the nanotech-defined-as-protein-only dept.
David Coutts writes about the book Evolution Isn't What It Used To Be: The Augmented Animal and the Whole Wired World by Walter Truett Anderson: "In his brief mention of nanotechnology he says: 'The third generation, which – depending upon what you read – may never come or may be just around the corner, is nanotechnology: miniscule protein computers, submicroscopic protein machines that will sail through the bloodstream to fight disease or repair damage to the body'…He has limited the nanotechnology vision to a third generation protein building tool…This is either laziness, ignorance or a peculiar form of psychological blindness or phobia I shall dub nanophobia. So, whilst I would agree that skepticism of a largely unproven technology is entirely healthy, the author should try and present the full picture or at least clearly state that the working definition of nanotechnology (for any book or article) is deliberately limited by the author." Read More for the full post.
from the chemistry-isn't-technology? dept.
David Coutts writes "I'm just finishing "Genome: The autobiography of a species in 23 chapters" by respected science journalist Matt Ridley…Genome is a good book, and I can recommend it…What prompted me to post to Nanodot.org was the chapter on Self Assembly (Chapter 12, featuring developmental genes from Chromosone 12). Ridley opens the chapter by highlighting useful human analogies for most things we find in nature. Examples given are bats using sonar, the eye is a camera, natural selection is trial and error etc. However, Ridley states that there is no such analogy for self assembly. Nature can grow a human (or other creature) from a single cell, but there is "no human analogy at all" in our technology for self assembly. Hmm – how about nanotechnology? I found this a useful reminder that the concept of nanotechnology is both unfamiliar and alien to the vast majority of people." Read More for David's full post. CP: One could argue that synthetic organic chemistry technology is entirely based on self-assembly. The structures made are often not found in nature.
from the man-will-never-fly dept.
David Coutts writes from Australia: "I'm reading "Visions" by Michio Kaku (co-founder of string field theory), the paperback edition published in 1997 by Anchor Books…The purpose of this [post] is to focus briefly on his handling of nanotechnology, which comes under the Quantum Revolution heading. I found his treatment (pages 266 to 273) curiously dismissive… Feynman's famous article is mentioned, but no mention of Engines of Creation or Nanosystems, nor the Foresight Institute. Instead, he agrees with critics who say that "the claims are as breathtaking as their results are meager"… He concludes by saying that "the jury is out", and nanotechnology remains "purely speculative at this point". Has anyone else read the book? If so, what did you think of his treatment of nanotechnology? I would love to see someone from the Foresight Institute refute Mr Kaku paragraph by paragraph. As a layman, I felt that he had already made up his mind and therefore only interviewed those whose minds were similiarly opposed… " Read More for the full post.
from the complexity-of-complexity dept.
smythe writes "Stuart Kauffman's latest book, Investigations speaks eloquently to what I believe will soon become the central issue in Nanotechnology. Namely, the(self-)organization and management of complexity of collections of atoms, molecules and molecular scale devices. The design of nanoscale devices and materials is about 'organizing atoms'. The Atomasoft coined phrase 'matter will become software' alludes to this but thoroughly underestimates it at the same time. Kauffman collects many ideas from Biology, Mathematics, Complexity Science and Physics proper and provides us with what he suggests what might be an 'adequate description of life itself'.
"Fourth Law" (the lecture)
Investigations (the book)
Investigations (online notes)"
from the but-how-much-does-it-cost? dept.
We also need a review of this: Molecular Operating Environment (MOE) from Chemical Computing Group: "a software system designed for molecular computing, integrates visualization, model building, simulation, and analysis of molecular structures." Available for Red Hat Linux 6.0. The same license also includes various Windows and other UNIX versions. "MOE comes with source code for customization…MOE is platform independent." And: "The Molecule Builder has been enhanced to include all the Edit menu commands for modifying atom properties and geometries (bond lengths, angles and torsions). Chirality and E/Z inversion has been added as well as the ability to name atoms A0, A1, etc. for combinatorial chemistry applications. Atoms can be bonded, unbonded and deleted from the Builder panel." Sounds expensive; if it's worth the time maybe Foresight can arrange a group discount. Any interest?
from the where-angels-fear-to-tread dept.
We need a review of the experimental HyperCube Compute Server. It is a free web-based service offering computational chemistry: "You go to the compute page to draw your molecule and select the type of calculation you want to perform. At this stage we are offering two type of calculations. The first shows the molecular orbitals calculated using the 3D structure created by HyperChem's modelbuilder. The second shows the optimized structure and infra-red spectra of your drawn molecule. Both of these calculations are performed using the PM3 semi-empirical method." Caveat: it is highly Microsoft-oriented, and not open source.
from the but-can-they-do-laundry? dept.
Comments from Foresight chairman Eric Drexler on this MIT Press book by Peter Menzel & Faith D'Aluisio: "Robo sapiens is a fascinating, in-depth look at one of the most challenging engineering tasks ever attempted. The photos amaze, while the text gives the inside story of researchers bashing their heads up against boggling complexity. You pick up Robo sapiens for the great photos, and then get caught up reading the inside politics of the race to build humanlike machines. Don't be surprised by the coming era of robotics — read Robo sapiens and be ready." Read More for comments by Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Kurzweil. CP: For a hardcover book this beautiful, the price of $29.95 is a bargain.
from the sounds-like-he-liked-it dept.
Greg Fahy of UCLA Medical has published a review in Life Extension magazine of Freitas's book Nanomedicine: "Nanomedicine is an endlessly impressive and uniquely important book. Like Newtonís Principia and Drexlerís Nanosystems, it stands as a marker between all that has come before, and all that will come in the future. For it is effectively a blueprint for the futureóessentially the whole futureóof health, longevity and medicine. It is not quite a predictionópredictions are notoriously difficultóbut is instead an engineering sketch of what will be possible for medicine based on the laws of physics and chemistry, when humankind can do everything consistent with those laws of physics. Despite its focus on the ultimate future of medicine, Nanomedicine is relevant to nearly everyone alive today and now, in many ways. It may save many lives, and it will certainly elevate many more. It is, in a sense, a gift from the future to those of us living in the present."