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Nanotechnology classic Engines of Creation new edition

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the nanotechnology classic book Engines of Creation is out in a new, free e-book version (5.4 MB pdf) from WOWIO. Material added since the original edition includes a Letter from the Author, Feynman’s 1959 talk, Advice to Aspiring Nanotechnologists (very similar to the author’s Foresight Briefing 1: Studying Nanotechnology, a longtime favorite), two classic technical papers, the Drexler-Smalley debate from Chemical & Engineering News, and an analysis by Ray Kurzweil of that debate. A very quick check seems to indicate that the main body of the text has not changed much, but it’s worth downloading for the other material, such as this excerpt on global warming:

Molecular machinery can be used to sort gas molecules to extract carbon dioxide from air. This requires substantial energy—the process compresses a gas—but it can be done with good thermodynamic efficiency. To remove 100 parts per million of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as a whole, compressing it to liquid density for long-term storage, would require several terawatts of power for 10 years. This could be provided by solar arrays with the total area of a square roughly 200 kilometers on a side. By providing the necessary molecular machinery and dropping the cost of the arrays, molecular manufacturing can make it affordable to remove and store the excess carbon dioxide that has accumulated since the industrial revolution.

Abilities of this magnitude may arrive sooner than most would expect. The last 50 years have shown the incredible dynamism of technologies in the microworld. While cars, aircraft, houses, and furniture have changed only moderately in their capabilities and costs, DNA and microelectronic technologies have exploded, expanding their basic capabilities by factors of more than a billion. The developments leading to molecular manufacturing are of a similar sort and will share this dynamism. Past a certain threshold, however, these developments will burst forth from the microworld to transform technologies on a human and even planetary scale. No realistic view of the future can omit this prospect.

Indeed. I like to re-read Engines of Creation every few years, and am always left inspired. It may be time to dig in again.

While the download is free, a relatively long registration process is required, including a question on race(!). One must also promise to “work hard and make the world a better place.” If the question on race annoys you as much as it did me, send WOWIO a comment, as I did. Enough of those and they will stop making this a required field.

UPDATE: The publisher has now stopped requiring all but two fields, they report. See the comments for their email to me about this. —Christine

10 Responses to “Nanotechnology classic Engines of Creation new edition”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Never mind race, it’s only available to US residents. What’s that all about?

  2. Nanoman Says:

    My question is this: When or will there be a New Engines in hard copy?

  3. Anonymous Says:

    The entire registration process is onerous – I’ll pass.

  4. Christine Peterson Says:

    Here’s an email I just got from the publisher, in response to my complaint about being asked my race:


    Hi Christine,

    We wanted you to you know that we have implemented several refinements to
    the registration process, including:

    1. Reduced the number of steps from 6 to 3
    2. Reduced the required information (now only Birth date and Gender),
    everything else is optional
    3. Added additional explanation as to the reason behind authentication and
    survey questions

    We appreciate your feedback in driving many of these changes to fruition.

    Thanks and best,

    The WOWIO Team

  5. Bob Tell Says:

    The site requires you to give them your credit card number, which will be put in a computer database connected to the Internet, that a 13 year old can crack.

  6. Todd Boyle Says:

    Wouldn’t it be a lot simpler to stop putting so much CO2 in the atmosphere, to begin with?

    The only inner space we need to understand and conquer is the endless proliferation of desires in the minds of consumers— fed by advertising, I might add. If people moderate their desires and learn to enjoy what is right in front of their eyes, their own children, the natural world, instead of psychoticall rushing up and down the freeways in such useless commotion, we would save the atmosphere as well as reduce wars and hostilities.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    I cannot download this pdf, therefore it is not free…

  8. Anders Says:

    I’ve read it before, I’ve printed the web version and lent it out to friends. It’s good. I would recommend it to everyone. It’s 7 years ago I read it, and I would like to read it again, and ofcourse I would like it to be this updated version. But I’m Danish.
    Will this be available to other people than US-residents any time soon?


  9. Ummer Ameen Says:


    I am a student from South India.

    Can any one help me by sending ENGINES OF CREATION ebook to my mail address

    Thank you in advance

  10. Daniel Says:

    Dear All,

    Can’t download this from Germany :( ((
    Is there any other way I can obtain it? May be someone could send it to me at

    Thanks a lot!

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