Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Picture of the day


Large, deformed CdS nanobelt entangled by a smaller one

Credit Pedro M. F. J. Costa, National Institute of Materials Science, Japan. Winner of the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan.

This image appears on the cover of the December 2007 issue of Materials Today, and is one of many beautiful images to be found at the Materials Today website. In this collection, they highlight “best materials research-related images.”

See the collection here http://www.materialstoday.com/covercomp2007.html

Nanomedicine makes the news, and makes my day

Korea.net today announced an exciting discovery in the field of nanomedicine (1).

Scientists at Yonsei University claim to have “developed a nanomaterial that can simultaneously find and suppress cancer growth.” If this turns out as they hope, it may mean we’ve found yet another “nano” way to combat our age-old nemesis, rendering it ineffective.

Once again our understanding of the nanoscale is being brought to bear on an area that has huge potential for doing good. I say “once again” because there are other equally promising efforts being made by Dr, Naomi Halas and her team at Rice (as well as many other dedicated and qualified groups). Her vision? "Imagine if cancer could become trivial." (2)

Given the billions being spent in nanomedicine R&D, coupled with an increasing number of teams of the finest university and corporate minds, each competing for dollars and glory, I am confident that many of today’s killer diseases and life-threatening injuries will become things we soon talk about in terms of “remember when cancers killed millions of people every year?” and “Hey, didn’t one of your ancestors die of that injury?”

Today, many visionaries predict that advances in nanotechnologies will bring about near-term Trillion dollar markets as well as answers to many of today’s greatest social needs. And those forecasts are predicated on the relative puny few billions of dollars that are being spent on nanotech R&D at this time. Imagine if the same number of dollars (3) as we’re spending on various military efforts were also spent on increasing our understanding of the nanoscale. Should this come to pass, I am confident that many social ills could be mitigated, if not eliminated. Pour a couple hundred billion dollars into nanotech R&D with the specific intent of addressing the issues of employment, hunger, and education, I sincerely believe that wonderful things will happen. I also believe that when it comes to best bang for the buck, investing in nanotech R&D is absolutely the most promising way to insure that our collective future is beneficial to all.

Let me give you some examples of things we might see in the next couple decades due to our understanding of the nanoscale:

A FREE fully loaded laptop, with free Internet connection and power, for everyone

FREE screening, diagnosis and treatment for most of today’s killer diseases and life-threatening injuries, with subsequent near-zero death rates from age-old killers such as cancers

A better standard of living for everyone, with not one person wanting for food, shelter, medical needs or freedom

Protection from space debris such as asteroids and comets using advanced optics and computing coupled with rapid deployment counter measures

Off-Earth launches costing pennies per pound, instead of today’s $10 - $20k; space tourism, permanent moon and Mars bases; and possibly one or more space tethers (AKA: beanstalk, space elevator)

Environmental remediation, including the digestion and conversion to energy of all landfills, clean up of all super fund sites, and reversal of over a hundred year’s worth of atmospheric pollution

New non-polluting power sources for our homes, offices and cars (and our entire transportation industry) that create near-zero pollutants and cost a very tiny fraction of what they do today

As John Lennon said, “You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

What do you believe? Will nanotech bring us riches or doom? I’m thinking riches, with just the barest hint of doom (say, one part per billion), IF we plan well enough in advance and IF we focus our intentions (IE: get our collective stuff together).

Rocky Rawstern
From the Wilds of Southern Oregon
November 20, 2007

(1) http://www.kois.go.kr/news/news/newsView.asp?serial_no=20071119003
(2) http://www.nanotech-now.com/2003-Awards/Best-Discoveries-2003.htm & http://www.ece.rice.edu/~halas/
(3) by some estimates a total as high as trillions of dollars, worldwide

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Picture of the day

Title: Spider’s website

Description: RF-MEMS structure consisting of a stack of 5 ┬Ám Al + 50 nm TiW + 200 nm PECVD SiO2.

Shot at magnification 240x using an FEI NovaNanoSEM600

Credit: Frans Holthuysen (Philips Research)

Another image from The 49th International Conference on Electron, Ion and Photon Beam Technology and Nanofabrication Bizarre/Beautiful Micrograph Contest

From a purely artistic p-o-v I prefer this one, although "M. C. Escher Award" and "Tower of Babylon" run a close 2nd and 3rd and are all intriguing images.

Quote of the day

"There is no doubt that nanotechnology has the potential to make the world a better place and that members of the National Nanotechnology Initiative have great intentions to do the right thing. But given what is at stake here — the quality of our environment, the future vitality of the American economy, and the health of workers and consumers — good intentions are not enough."

~Andrew Maynard, chief scientist for the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, commenting on U.S Gov. non-action on nanomaterial safety regulation.


November 6th, 2007

Most who have read my “bits and pieces” over the years know that I firmly believe that nanoscale technologies will enable more change in fewer years and be more disruptive than all technologies to-date. I am not alone in this belief, and am backstopped by many of the most critical thinkers of the 21st Century. Someone I greatly respect sums it up thus: “we won't experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century – it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today's rate).” He is, of course, primarily referring to nanoscale technologies and advanced computing.

What I believe

My core beliefs center on the fact that new technologies are inevitable, difficult to predict and to prepare for. I further shape my beliefs around the certainty that labs around the world will continue to be funded with an increasing number of billions of dollars per year in an effort to expand our knowledge of the unique properties of the nanoscale; all in an effort to turn that knowledge into products and services, many of which will disrupt society in ways great and small. One of the things history teaches us is that when huge capital investments are made in new technologies that huge changes to society result.

Nanotechnologies represent the new “huge.”

Why I believe in the beneficial power of nanotechnologies

I continue to believe that nanotechnology's highest and best use should be to create a world of abundance, where no one is lacking for basic needs. At a bare minimum we should insure that everyone can count on adequate food, safe water, a clean environment, housing, medical care, education, public safety, fair labor, unrestricted travel, and freedom of artistic expression and from fear and oppression.

What I hold on to tightest to is my firm conviction that every single stakeholder (that’s you and me and everyone) can play an important role in the process of anticipating and preparing for technology-driven change. We each hold in our hands the ability to make a difference in things that are important to everyone living on this beautiful blue marble. All we need do is stay informed and to participate – to whatever extent – in the debate.

Consider delving deeper into this blog for other interesting and enlightening “bits and pieces.” I think you will find it a great thought starter as well as a critical information resource.

In closing

If one does not participate in the shaping the future than one cannot complain about the outcome. Get involved.

Rocky Rawstern