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Archive for May, 2000

Molecular manufacturing now “Mainstream”

Posted by ChrisP on May 29th, 2000

from the now-the-boss-will-pay! dept.
Looking for a way to get your company to pay your way to hear about nanotechnology in Vancouver this July? (You should be — Vancouver is wonderful.) Now you can: The dead-tree version of the journal Simulation reports that SCSC 2000 topics include "Nanotechnology and Molecular Manufacturing". The conference website boasts that "The theme for this year's conference is: MAINSTREAM Simulation. SCSC 2000 addresses the MAINSTREAM of simulation…in the MAINSTREAM of world-wide government and industry." (OK, we get the point.) Other topics and meetings held in conjunction help ensure that if you work with computers, you may be able to justify this trip. Can anyone recommend/disrecommend this meeting?

Atom Chips, a possible route to nanofabrication

Posted by DaveKrieger on May 29th, 2000

from the yippee-ti-yi-yo,-get-along-little-moieties dept.
alison describes a report on progress toward the ability to "herd" atoms and molecules using the electric and magnetic fields of an integrated circuit. Click below for details. "The manipulation of atoms with the magnetic and electric fields of integrated circuits strikes me as the most viable candidate method I have heard for a real 'assembler.' Note that by using Bose-Einstein condensates as the source for atoms, one can control not only their position, but also their orientation and state of excitation (ionized, vibrating, etc.). I believe that this approach is more viable than mechanosynthesis, although it's obviously still early in the game."

Si 4-5 nm wires grown from solution

Posted by DaveKrieger on May 28th, 2000

from the tinier-and-tinier-hammers-and-chisels dept.
Jeffrey Soreff points out an article in Science [registration required] describing silicon crystals grown with "nearly uniform" diameters of 4-5 nm. The feat was performed using diphenylsilane in supercritical hexane at 500° C and 270 atmospheres. Click below for Jeffrey's summary of the article.

Working quantum dots

Posted by DaveKrieger on May 26th, 2000

from the it-was-right-here-just-a-minute-ago! dept.
WillWare writes "Heise On-Line recently carried this story about what appear to be working quantum dots, made by a couple of chemists in Essen. Translation below rendered by Babelfish with a little help where it made obvious mistakes."

(I think Babelfish means "prize" instead of "price" for the "Förderpreis".)

Nano-research/lab on a chip

Posted by DaveKrieger on May 26th, 2000

from the in-a-gattaca-vida dept.
Gina "Nanogirl" Miller writes "Cornell nano-researchers create component for a 'lab on a chip' that cuts DNA separation from a day to a matter of minutes. Researchers have long sought to create a "laboratory on a chip" that could greatly speed up the process of DNA sequencing. That goal has come a step closer with the announcement that Cornell University researchers have built and tested a nanofabricated device that can separate DNA fragments by length. (Cornell press release May 15, 00) link "

Postrel responds to Bill Joy

Posted by DaveKrieger on May 26th, 2000

from the sky-may-not-in-fact-be-falling dept.
Virginia Postrel, Editor-at-Large for Reason magazine (whom you may have met at last year's Senior Associates Gathering) responds in the most recent issue to Bill Joy's Wired essay calling for "relinquishment" of advanced technologies. Virginia's rebuttal is concise, well-informed, and eloquent; too bad she won't get a tenth of the media coverage Joy has.

new “foresight” journal: free email digest

Posted by ChrisP on May 25th, 2000

from the lots-of-foresight-out-there dept.
Most futurist journals aren't very useful — too short-term, too conservative. Here's a new one that has a chance: foresight® from Camford Publishing — no relation to Foresight Institute. Their board of editors includes at least two who "get it": Clem Bezold and Peter Schwartz. Overall, the publication has a European feel. The email digest is free. For the scope of the journal's topics, see More below.

Send Gathering Notes to Tanya

Posted by Tanya on May 24th, 2000

from the bringing-it-all-back-home dept.
Anyone with notes from the Gathering who would like those notes incorporated into the Senior Associate website should send them to me at Photos are also welcome.

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.

Macroscale polymorphic robots point the way

Posted by ChrisP on May 23rd, 2000

from the here-come-weird-robots dept.
Work at Brandeis on polymorphic (shape-changing) robots will help us get used to this idea long before they can be implemented with nanotechnology. Sounds like science fiction…

Name This Server!

Posted by DaveKrieger on May 23rd, 2000

from the identity-crisis dept.
This server needs a name! Preferably one of 1 to 3 syllables that doesn't conflict with something else in our community namespace (and that can also be used as a machine name in the domain… "" does not roll trippingly off the tongue).

A couple of names have already been suggested:

  • NanoLog (since the Slash software running the site is a species of the genus that has been called a "weblog")
  • ForeSlash (pretty self-explanatory, with significant geek appeal)

Please append your suggestions as comments to this message. Then we'll pick the one we like best; or if we can't choose, we'll run a poll.

Update: In the interests of making the server available to the widest possible audience as quickly as possible, we picked a name ("foreslash", suggested by Geoff Dale) and went with it. Thanks to all who made suggestions!

Update Again: We may not be able to keep ForeSlash as the name of this server… so please continue adding comments and suggesting names!


Next Steps for ForeSlash

Posted by DaveKrieger on May 23rd, 2000

from the who-will-help-me-grind-my-grain? dept.
Got an idea for the improvement of ForeSlash? Attach it as a comment to this message. We'll use how each comment gets moderated as a rough measure of its popularity and proceed accordingly. Specifically solicited suggestions:

  • Topic categories. Those who email PerlDiver an appropriate icon (GIF or PNG no larger than 80 pixels in either dimension) will earn a sterling silver Waytogo from my family collection. Obvious categories (like Medicine and Foreslash itself) are in the works.
  • Sections. Slashdot, the mothership, has sections for Interviews, Ask Slashdot, Science, Apache, etc. Please make your suggestion in the form of a complete scheme of sections; the winning set of sections will do a good job of spanning the likely universe of ForeSlash stories without the categories overlapping too much.

John C. Dvorak: Bill Joy vs The Robots

Posted by DaveKrieger on May 23rd, 2000

from the I-use-qwerty-myself dept.
waynerad writes "Columnist John C Dvorak wrote a humorous column a while back, Bill Joy vs the Robots. Dvorak has made a name for himself by turning people's crackpot ideas into good punchlines. Check it out and see what crackpots he thinks Bill Joy, Ray Kurzweil, and the rest of us are. A preview of things to come, I'm sure." Of all the wrong people out there, the ones who say "Don't worry; it'll never happen" are the ones that worry me the least. Nearly everyone recognizes nowadays that technology is accelerating; even my barber knows about Moore's law (better than Dvorak does, apparently).

Social policy bonds

Posted by DaveKrieger on May 20th, 2000

from the would-you-buy-it-for-a-quarter? dept.
WillWare writes "Ronnie Horesh, a New Zealand economist, has an interesting proposal he calls Social Policy Bonds. These are a bit like idea futures; they are bonds issued by a government, redeemable at a fixed high price when some measurable social goal has been attained. The bonds are initially sold or auctioned at a low price, creating a free-market incentive to fulfill the goal, while relieving the government of the burden of planning the implementation. The idea could be fully privatized, with certificates issued by individuals who would deposit the redemption price with a trusted escrow agent, redeemable upon any objective measure: discovery of a vaccine, release of an open-source program, a low infant-mortality rate in a third-world country, the opening of a homeless shelter, publication of a book, etc. There's probably a good crypto protocol for trading unforgeable e-certficates. "

Three Articles

Posted by DaveKrieger on May 20th, 2000

NANOGIRL writes "—*Molecules with attitude, ready to perform. Functioning nanostructures self-assemble out of ink. Observed through a microscope, dried ink appears as a jumble of particles. Now an ink has been produced that, as it dries, can be seen under very powerful microscopes to self-assemble into orderly layers of very tiny caves — actually, nanoscopic pores — each leading to the next. Within these caves, ligands — active molecules that exhibit molecular recognition charactistics — interrogate any gas or fluid, laser light, or electric or magnetic field passing through. (Sandia 5/4/00) link —*Magnetic actuation enables three-dimensional MEMS. Recent work in magnetic actuation at the University of Illinois promises to enable the mass production of microelectromechanical system (MEMS) devices that can self-assemble "upward" from their substrate into the third dimension.(EETimes 5/15/00) link —*New Info from Slow Muons. The magnetic properties of superconductors are at least as fascinating as their extremely high electrical conductivity. As researchers try to understand the new high temperature superconductors(HTSCs) at a fundamental level, they need to scrutinize magnetic fields inside these materials. A new technique using cold muons, described in the 22 May PRL, can probe these fields within NANOMETERS of a material's surface–by far the most detailed look ever. (PRF 5/15/00) link "

Coding a Transhuman AI 2.0a published

Posted by DaveKrieger on May 19th, 2000

from the smarter-than-the-average-mechanism dept.
Eliezer Yudkowsky writes "Coding a Transhuman AI 2.0a has just been published. The paper is 179K; there is a summary. CaTAI discusses how to build a general intelligence, along with the specific issues associated with creating a self-modifying or "seed" AI (one that can understand and rewrite its own source code). I expect this paper to be extended considerably in the future, but the published sections are complete and self-contained. I may revise this paper further before the Foresight Conference, but the initial version is now available for review. "

Waking up from Cryostasis

Posted by DaveKrieger on May 19th, 2000

from the seven-year-snooze-bar dept.
Fred Chamberlain writes "In anticipation of the gathering, a short-story about people waking up from cryostasis (thanks to nanotech) is now posted on Alcor's website. It's a reprint from LifeQuest Issue No. 4 (Nov. 1988), one of the early stories inspired by "Engines". Comments were requested from a few people who either will be at the gathering, or should be. So far, all that's emerged is a flurry of email about how some of us define virtual reality vs. cyberspace, bio-cyber interfaces, etc. This weekend we're going to be trying to visualize what's coming and how to deal with it. Here's one possible scenario. "

Thinking about nanotech accidents

Posted by ChrisP on May 15th, 2000

Foresight Senior Associate Robert A. Freitas Jr. has just completed a lengthy technical risk analysis of some "gray goo" scenarios which may be relevant to our discussions of nanoreplicator safely and regulations. The title is Some Limits to Global Ecophagy by Biovorous Nanoreplicators, with Public Policy Recommendations . (Thanks go to Senior Associate Robert Bradbury for getting this into html.) If you're coming to the Gathering, try to read or skim this first. Additionally, you may comment below or by using Crit; to do the latter, click here.

Big Names endorse Nat’l Nanotech Initiative

Posted by ChrisP on May 15th, 2000

Christine Peterson writes "Various technical and political honchos endorse the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative on this page at the site. It's not surprising that these folks would favor R&D spending, but for those of us in Foresight it is gratifying to see them endorsing our technical goals and/or our goals for applications (e.g. medical and environmental). Five of them get extra points for mentioning molecular-scale "machines": MIT's president, UCSB's chancellor, HP Labs' director, Material Research Society's president, and Newt Gingrich (!). "