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Archive for the 'Opinion' Category

To use or not to use: Nanotechnology in sunscreens

Posted by Christine Peterson on June 11th, 2007

Some sunscreens contain simple nanomaterials: nanoparticles of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Sunscreens have had these for decades, but the particles used to be bigger, which is why lifeguards at the beach used to have white noses. Now the particles are smaller, so the sunscreens are transparent. Applying the “nanotechnology” label to these products is [...]

Nanotechnology: Toward matter programmable to atomic precision

Posted by Christine Peterson on June 7th, 2007

In the Edigest email from, we found the interview below with a young researcher whose work has been mentioned here before. Normally we don’t reprint items in their entirety, but I could not find this on the website, or elsewhere on the web, so here it is. Its appearance in the Edigest was [...]

Philosopher confused by longevity, nanotechnology

Posted by Christine Peterson on June 1st, 2007

The May/June Technology Review (free reg. req’d) features an essay by philosopher Roger Scruton attempting to examine the ethical issues of highly advanced technologies. While the focus is on biotech, nanotech is hinted at: …why cannot machines be produced as humans are now produced, by self-reproduction? Why not indeed. They could, in principle. Scruton makes [...]

Competing nanotechnology control frameworks

Posted by Christine Peterson on May 17th, 2007

We’ve written here before about the Environmental Defense/DuPont effort to create a framework to deal with nanotechnology environmental, health, and safety (EHS) risks. Now NRDC has issued its own report and framework. An excerpt from the report: The current approach to chemical regulation cannot be relied upon to prevent harm from nanomaterials; it is slow, [...]

Fortune profile on Kurzweil and nanotechnology

Posted by Christine Peterson on May 2nd, 2007

These days Foresight is focused on our Technology Roadmap and policy initiatives such as Open Source Physical Security. But we still have our visionary side, shown in a Fortune profile of Foresight advisor Ray Kurzweil, which also features Foresight director and X PRIZE founder Peter Diamandis: If you went around saying that in a couple [...]

Russia: $1 billion from oil into nanotechnology

Posted by Christine Peterson on April 19th, 2007 reports that nanotechnology is the next big thing in Russia: Russia will pour over $1 billion into equipment for nanotechnology research over the next three years as it uses massive oil and gas export earnings to diversify an economy now heavily dependent on raw materials, First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said Wednesday. “(Nanotechnology) [...]

NSF: "Moving very fast" toward molecular nanotechnology

Posted by Christine Peterson on April 12th, 2007

A wide-ranging interview of NSF’s Mihail Roco includes an opinion on the rate of advance of nanotechnology toward its more advanced stages: If you look toward the future, the field is moving very fast from studying simple components – like nanotubes, nanoparticles, quantum dots – to studying active devices and nanosystems. We are also beginning [...]

The nanotechnology book for your coffee table

Posted by Christine Peterson on March 21st, 2007

Finally, some decent swag for us here at Nanodot: We have received a review copy of the Italian book Blow-up: Images from the Nanoworld mentioned here earlier. It lives up to its advertising, being a beautiful collection of nanoscale (and microscale) images by Lucia Covi, including AFM tips, nanodevices, quantum dots, nanowires, DNA, nanotubes, and [...]

Nanotechnology health uses to grow hugely

Posted by Christine Peterson on March 20th, 2007

Small Times reports that nanotechnology medical applications are expected to climb immensely: U.S. demand for nanotechnology medical products will increase over 17 percent per year to $53 billion in 2011, says The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industry research firm. Afterwards, the increasing flow of new nanomedicines, nanodiagnostics, and nanotech-based medical supplies and devices into [...]

Nanotechnology leading to molecular machines

Posted by Christine Peterson on March 13th, 2007

Richard Jones and commenters bring our attention to a number of enticing research papers on the use of catalysis and molecular motors to produce movement. One paper mentioned sounds particularly useful: an overview of progress on Synthetic Molecular Motors and Mechanical Machines. From the abstract: The widespread use of controlled molecular-level motion in key natural [...]

Nanotechnology for health: 10-year EU-US perspective

Posted by Christine Peterson on March 9th, 2007

A while back I offered to write more about Health and Nanotechnology: Economic, Societal, and Institutional Impact, a report from a conference convened with the cooperation of the U.S. Dept. of State and the European Commission, part of a series called Perspectives on the Future of Science and Technology, which has a ten-year time horizon. [...]

Nanotechnology magazine competition: you decide

Posted by Christine Peterson on February 21st, 2007

Fortunately for us, Elsevier and the Institute of Nanotechnology — both based in Europe — are competing for eyeballs in the nanotechnology magazine race. This means they are letting us see their publications for free online, at least for now. From the IoN we have the excitedly-named new monthly “NanoNOW!”, the first issue of which [...]

Nanotechnology alleged to aid patriarchy

Posted by Christine Peterson on February 15th, 2007

We mentioned earlier the Harvard Business Review list of Breakthrough Ideas for 2007. Nanotechnology shows up again in another idea on the list — this one rather more controversial. Phillip Longman observes that falling birthrates lead, over time, to an increase in families with more conservative values, because they reproduce more. Seems plausible. He then [...]

Blunt advice on nanotechnology investing

Posted by Christine Peterson on January 29th, 2007

We at Foresight are often asked for advice on nanotechnology investing, which we are not qualified to give, so we refer folks elsewhere. Most sources of nanotech investing advice are boosters, so it’s also useful to hear from those taking another view. Over at Nanotechnology Now we get some unusually blunt comments from columnist Pearl [...]

Nanotechnology hazard symbol misleading

Posted by Christine Peterson on January 24th, 2007

We should assume that those participating the ETC Group’s nanotechnology hazard symbol contest are all trying to be helpful, and such a symbol may someday be of some use. However, of the three top symbols named as winners, the first one — by far the most vivid — has a real problem. First, see the [...]

U.K. nanotechnology project causing U.S. nanoenvy

Posted by Christine Peterson on January 17th, 2007

In addition to the experimental project described here yesterday, there are now two more posted on the U.K. Software Control of Matter Ideas Factory blog which are very likely to be funded — the first experimental, the second theoretical: Directed Reconfigurable Nanomachines We propose a scheme to revolutionise the synthesis of nanodevices, nanomachines, and, ultimately, [...]

Military nanotechnology video is a mixed bag

Posted by Christine Peterson on January 9th, 2007

Somehow we missed the original launch of the 12-minute video describing MIT’s Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, funded by the U.S. Army. It includes animated sequences depicting combat scenarios and how nanotechnologies could be used in response. Some of these are pretty science-fictiony, which means they have at least some chance of being accurate projections. The [...]

Forbes’ 2006 Top 5 nanotechnology breakthroughs

Posted by Christine Peterson on December 27th, 2006

Forbes announces its top five nanotechnology breakthroughs for 2006, and we’re not surprised to see the winner of this year’s Foresight Institute Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology listed as #1: 1. DNA origami, at Caltech 2. Nanomagnets to clean up drinking water, at Rice 3. Arrays connect nanowire transistors with neurons, at Harvard 4. Single nanotube [...]

Common sense about Samsung silver nanotechnology

Posted by Christine Peterson on November 21st, 2006

Nanowerk reports that the German branch of Friends of the Earth (BUND) is calling for Samsung to withdraw from the market its washing machine using silver nanoparticles: …BUND criticized that considerable amounts of silver could enter sewage plants and seriously trouble the biologic purification process of the waste water. In addition, silver nanoparticles were blaimed [...]

Patents on fundamental nanotechnology devices may slow progress

Posted by Christine Peterson on October 25th, 2006

First, the good news. Here’s an update from on the nanoactuator work reported previously. Not much new technical info, but new thoughts on cool applications: Researchers at the University of Portsmouth, UK, have developed an electronic switch based on DNA – a world-first bio-nanotechnology breakthrough that provides the foundation for the interface between living [...]