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Foresight Institute appoints Julia Bossmann as new president

Foresight Update 29.03—April 8, 2016
ISSN 1078-9731

Nanotech News

Discuss these news stories at

In this issue:

Five ionized atoms provide scalable implementation of quantum computation algorithm

Last November we cited work done at the University of New South Wales in Australia that established an architecture for a scalable atomically precise quantum computer, implemented in silicon. A collaboration from MIT and the University of Innsbruck in Austria has now put forth a similar claim, but using a very different physical implementation. …

DNA nanotechnology defeats drug resistance in cancer cells

Scaffolded DNA origami, added to the structural DNA nanotechnology toolkit 10 years ago, is a very powerful technique for folding DNA into complex nanostructures. We’ve cited its use to make make dynamic nanomachines … and to make simple nanorobots for potential medical application …. A recent news release from Ohio State University, written by Pam Frost Gorder, makes clear that even simple atomically precise DNA nanostructures hold great potential for solving a major problem, perhaps the major problem encountered during cancer chemotherapy: the evolution of drug resistance by the cancer. …

Foresight Institute appoints Julia Bossmann as new president

Foresight Institute, a leading think-tank for transformative future technologies, announced that Julia Bossmann has joined the organization as president.

“Julia’s breadth of vision for atomically-precise construction, artificial intelligence, and other transformative technologies will bring new energy to Foresight,” says Foresight co-founder Christine Peterson. …

Nanotechnologies to advance solar energy utilization

A few weeks ago Science published a review written by California Institute of Technology Chemistry Professor Nate Lewis titled “Research opportunities to advance solar energy utilization”. … Prof. Lewis’s one-page summary of his own review concludes that “Considerable opportunities for cost reduction that can achieve both evolutionary and revolutionary performance improvements are present for all types of solar energy–conversion technologies.” The review enumerates those technologies, focusing on production of solar electricity through photovoltaics, solar thermal, and artificial photosynthesis to produce fuels from sunlight. Two fundamental constraints on solar energy systems are made explicit: (1) the low energy density of sunlight at Earth’s surface, necessitating large areas needed to capture and convert solar power; (2) the intermittent nature of sunlight, requiring affordable technologies for large-scale energy storage. …

Caltech celebrates ten years of Scaffolded DNA Origami

Since we frequently report progress in structural DNA nanotechnology made possible by the scaffolded DNA origami technique …, I cannot resist passing on these two news items that I stumbled upon at the Caltech web site… “Ten Years of DNA Origami“:

On March 16, 2006, Research Professor of Bioengineering, Computing and Mathematical Sciences, and Computation and Neural Systems Paul Rothemund (BS ’94) published a paper in Nature detailing his new method for folding DNA into shapes and patterns on the scale of a few nanometers. This marked a turning point in DNA nanotechnology, enabling precise control over designed molecular structures. Ten years later, the field has grown considerably. On March 14–16, 2016, the Division of Engineering and Applied Science will hold a symposium titled “Ten Years of DNA Origami” to honor Rothemund’s contribution to the field, to survey the spectrum of research it has inspired, and to take a look at what is to come. …

Crowd-sourced RNA structure design uncovers new insights

Two years ago we commented on the success of “citizen scientists” playing an online game in outperforming the best available computerized design algorithms in designing RNA molecules to fold into predetermined structures. A news article appearing last month in Science, written by John Bohannon and discussing an Open Access paper (“Principles for Predicting RNA Secondary Structure Design Difficulty“) just published in the Journal of Molecular Biology, makes clear that the progress has continued …

Will medical 3D printing advance nanotechnology?

About four years ago we speculated that the advent of personal 3D printing for computers might accelerate progress toward atomically precise manufacturing. A few months later we noted the extension of 3D printing from microscale into nanoscale resolution (about 100 nm—still three orders of magnitude from atomic precision, and still using only one material). Since then progress in the technology, often referred to as “additive manufacturing”, has been impressive, especially in medical applications, even to the point of progressing toward 3D printing of tissues and organs. One especially striking example of this progress is described by Steve Smith at Medical Daily …

Tightly-fitted DNA parts form dynamic nanomachine

… last December we noted the accomplishment of the Dietz group in using DNA nanotechnology to position molecules with atomic precision. A new result from the Dietz group recently published in the open access journal Science Advances … demonstrates (quoting from the abstract) “a nanoscale rotary mechanism that reproduces some of the dynamic properties of biological rotary motors in the absence of an energy source, such as random walks on a circle with dwells at docking sites.” Both this and the previous advance of positioning molecules with atomic precision are described in a press release from the Technical University of Munich …

—Nanodot posts by James Lewis

Foresight Events and News

Foresight Institute appoints Julia Bossmann as new president

“Julia’s breadth of vision for atomically-precise construction, artificial intelligence, and other transformative technologies will bring new energy to Foresight,” says Foresight co-founder Christine Peterson. …

New Foresight Institute Breakthrough Technologies for Energy Workshop

Atomic Precision for Energy Generation, Transmission, and Use Reduction
May 20-22 2016 in Palo Alto, California

This will be a highly interactive and stimulating 2-1/2 day invitational meeting focused on long-term prospects for revolutionary advances in energy based on improved precision in our control of matter, and how to speed current research in that direction.

Since this will be a private, invitation-only event, information about the workshop will not be made pubic until a few months after the event. For information about the earlier workshops in this series, see Foresight Institute's 2014 Workshop on Directed/Programmable Matter for Energy and Foresight Institute's 2015 Workshop on Atomic Precision for Medical Applications.

White papers now available from Foresight’s workshops

Directed/Programmable Matter for Energy, Sept. 5-7, 2014 Video
White paper: Directed Programmable Matter for Energy Applications: Insights, analysis and implications for society

Atomic Precision for Medical Applications, May 29-31, 2015 Video
White paper: Foresight Institute's Workshop On Atomic Precision For Medical Applications

Foresight Lectures

Foresight President Julia Bossmann spoke at BIL:Los Angeles 2016 on the topic "Forecasting or How I stopped worrying about the future and starting thinking about the future" (scroll down to 6th speaker).

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