Foresight Institute Logo
Image of nano

Archive for the 'Reviews' Category

Overview of nanotechnology: yesterday and today

Posted by Christine Peterson on January 19th, 2001

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."

New book: Social policy bonds

Posted by Christine Peterson on January 18th, 2001

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."

Reduce agony of learning chemistry for nanotech

Posted by Christine Peterson on January 7th, 2001

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.

Review: “Evolution Isn’t What It Used To Be”

Posted by Christine Peterson on December 19th, 2000

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.

Respected science journalist ignorant of nanotech?

Posted by Christine Peterson on December 13th, 2000

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 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.

Physicist Michio Kaku dismissive of nanotech

Posted by Christine Peterson on December 4th, 2000

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.

Stu Kauffman’s “4th Law” – Investigations

Posted by Christine Peterson on November 26th, 2000

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)"

Source-available molecular modeling on Linux

Posted by Christine Peterson on October 27th, 2000

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?

Test your molecular designs online, free

Posted by Christine Peterson on October 27th, 2000

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.

Robo sapiens: Evolution of a New Species

Posted by Christine Peterson on October 22nd, 2000

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.

Nanomedicine book gets rave review

Posted by Christine Peterson on October 19th, 2000

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."

In-depth analysis of “rift” over nanotech goals

Posted by Christine Peterson on September 1st, 2000

from the required-reading dept.
UIUC mechanical engineering student Jon Horek has produced an excellent study for the IEEE titled A Critical Analysis of National Nanotechnology Research Funding (in pdf). It accurately describes, in some detail, the "rift" between researchers who advocate molecular manufacturing (MM) and those who do not. Horek concludes that the U.S. gov't working group on nanotechnology should increase dialogue with the MM research community. An astute analysis, long overdue.

(Google + Open Directory) x Nanotech = Useful

Posted by Christine Peterson on July 17th, 2000

from the what's-the-nano-herd-reading-these-days dept.
Jonathan Desp of Atoma writes: There is a nice page on Nanotechnology at Google." The Google directory is based on the Open Directory combined with Google technology and shows page popularity among Google users. Subcategories under Nanotech include Articles, Books, Businesses, Conferences, Funding, and Social & Political Implications.

Jef Raskin’s The Humane Interface

Posted by Christine Peterson on June 25th, 2000

from the can-there-be-a-truce-between-humans-and-computers? dept.
Senior Associate DickKarpinski writes "Jef Raskin's new book, The Humane Interface, is just out and everybody who cares to understand why computers are so hard to use, and how to fix them, should read it." Why should we care? The day is coming fast when the line blurs between computers and the human brain. If you'd prefer not to get that intimate with today's software, we need to get this straightened out soon. This book was found very useful by Foresight chairman Eric Drexler, and quite a few others who got it as a freebie at the Gathering, courtesy of Dick (thanks, Dick!).

Nanotech-specific search engine

Posted by ChrisP on June 20th, 2000

from the find-all-things-nano dept.
Pat Delany writes " is a new web search engine just for nanotechnology. We target the contents of over 240 nanotech websites, including academic papers, opinion pieces, research/industrial equipment spec sheets, experiment results, researchers' cv's, general nano overviews, etc., to provide easy access to the best nanotechnology information on the web." ChrisPeterson writes "When you're looking for info on molecular nanotechnology, you may want to use this new nanotech-only search engine. Why? The big engines are weeks or months out of date. This one searches lots of nanotech websites and does it more often than the big engines can. It worked well when I tested it on a common nanotech search term."

Nanotech website review

Posted by ChrisP on May 23rd, 2000

from the reviews-of-reviews-of-the-negligible dept.
Check out this new website on nanotechnology, courtesy of The author, Steve Lenhert, seems to be using roughly the same definition of the topic as we do. If you explore the site thoroughly, please be sure to comment below.