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Scaling up from atomic assembly and individual nanodevices to macroscopic systems

Following by a day the public event TEDxCaltech, “Feynman’s Vision: The Next 50 Years,” to be held at Caltech on Friday, 14 January 2011, the Kavli Futures Symposium

… will delve much deeper into the future possibilities of nanoscience. Our event title, “Plenty of Room in the Middle: Nanoscience – The Next 50 Years”, reflects both its connection with the theme of the TEDxCaltech event, and what we perceive as vast future opportunities in scaling up from atomic assembly and individual nanodevices, to macroscopic systems and structures with emergent properties and functionality.

According to the Symposium web page, registration is closed, but “The event website will provide podcasts of the day, and will host a forum for ongoing visionary discussion.”

The event and a recent roundtable discussion by event participants are described on another Kavli Foundation page “Scaling Up: The Future of Nanoscience“:

Fifty-one years after Richard Feynman envisioned nanoscience in his famous address, “Plenty of Room at the Bottom,” four extraordinary researchers joined in a roundtable discussion of the future of nanoscience.

IN THE LATE 1950s, RICHARD FEYNMAN FAMOUSLY IMAGINED a science where researchers and engineers could achieve remarkable feats by manipulating matter and creating structures all the way down to the level of individual atoms.

Now, 51 years after Feynman proposed “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom” for science to discover, researchers in nanoscience and nanotechnology are gathering to imagine how this young field may change in the next half a century—and in the process, also change our world. They will be joined by scientists in other fields whose work is already being transformed by nanoscience. Together, they will focus on the great opportunities that lie in scaling up from atomic assembly and individual nanodevices to macroscopic systems and structures with emergent properties and functionality.

The event is the next Kavli Futures Symposium, to be held at the California Institute of Technology on January 15, 2011. For the Symposium, an assembly of pioneering scientists will gather to focus on four key topics in nanoscience: atomic-scale assembly and imaging, mesoscopic quantum coherence, the “nano/bio nexus” and nanotechnology frontiers. Co-chairing the symposium are Michael Roukes, co-director of the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at the California Institute of Technology, and IBM scientist Donald Eigler.

Three of those nanoscientists — Eigler, MIT materials scientist Angela Belcher and UC Santa Barbara physicist David Awschalom — joined in a recent teleconference to discuss the upcoming symposium and Feynman’s legacy. Roukes provided additional responses in a subsequent interview. Each of these four is playing a key role in the symposium as co-moderators of sessions on topics where they are recognized scientific leaders. …

Briefer discussions of “The future of nanoscience” appear on EurekAlert and on KurzweilAI.

5 Responses to “Scaling up from atomic assembly and individual nanodevices to macroscopic systems”

  1. flashgordon Says:

    don’t worry, the irrationalists will ban it all. They’ll say we’re not allowed to eat from the tree of life; they’ll say we shouldn’t be ‘playing god.’ What that reason is won’t be made known; questions won’t be asked or they’ll shut you up.

  2. Instapundit » Blog Archive » NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Scaling up from atomic assembly and individual nanodevices to macroscopic sy… Says:

    [...] NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Scaling up from atomic assembly and individual nanodevices to macroscopic systems. [...]

  3. Ming-the-merciless Says:

    @flashgordon,

    Just remember: When those voices in your head start to get too loud, it must be time to take your medicine.

  4. An Observation Says:

    In nature nothing exists in size between individual molecules and the smallest viron. There is a reason for this. If you look at things at the nano scale air molecules look like bowling balls moving at a kilometer a second. These have a tremendous impact on things at small scale and break them up. It requires either very strong molecular forces or a large enough mass to keep these impacts from destroying what you are trying to build. As a result you can build things in a high vacuum in that ‘forbidden’ size zone, but as soon as you expose them to the air they are destroyed.

    The upside to that is that it basically ends the possibility of a ‘grey goo’ of nano replicators destroying life on earth. The down side is that many potentially useful devices are not going to be practical except in vacuum tubes.

  5. willis Says:

    A more likely scenario flash is that the federal government will declare the development of nanotechnology to be too important to leave to a free market that will over price its products to cheat helpless consumers (think medicine). It will then seize control over the entire process with a 2,000 page law, and use the occassion to create hundreds of new agencies, with huge budgets adequate to create political fiefdoms, contracts for the most avid supporters in home districts, and endless reams of regulations to be written, interpreted, contested, litigated, etc. by armies of attorneys and accountants. Everybody wins!

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