Transterrestrial Musings  

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay

Alan Boyle (MSNBC)
Space Politics (Jeff Foust)
Space Transport News (Clark Lindsey)
NASA Watch
NASA Space Flight
Hobby Space
A Voyage To Arcturus (Jay Manifold)
Dispatches From The Final Frontier (Michael Belfiore)
Personal Spaceflight (Jeff Foust)
Mars Blog
The Flame Trench (Florida Today)
Space Cynic
Rocket Forge (Michael Mealing)
COTS Watch (Michael Mealing)
Curmudgeon's Corner (Mark Whittington)
Selenian Boondocks
Tales of the Heliosphere
Out Of The Cradle
Space For Commerce (Brian Dunbar)
True Anomaly
Kevin Parkin
The Speculist (Phil Bowermaster)
Spacecraft (Chris Hall)
Space Pragmatism (Dan Schrimpsher)
Eternal Golden Braid (Fred Kiesche)
Carried Away (Dan Schmelzer)
Laughing Wolf (C. Blake Powers)
Chair Force Engineer (Air Force Procurement)
Saturn Follies
JesusPhreaks (Scott Bell)
The Ombudsgod
Cut On The Bias (Susanna Cornett)
Joanne Jacobs

Site designed by

Powered by
Movable Type
Biting Commentary about Infinity, and Beyond!

« Hearing Report | Main | Holding Back Progress »

Elephant Sandwich

Howard Lovy has a scary little email exchange about progress in molecular manufacturing.

Posted by Rand Simberg at October 29, 2003 08:13 AM
TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference this post from Transterrestrial Musings.

This is just another thought that supports my conviction that attaining supremacy in nano-technology should be a very high priority for the United States. It is simply too critical to let slide. Were another power to beat us to it, it almost definitely would be catastrophic.

Posted by Chaos Overlord at October 29, 2003 09:02 AM

EXACTLY! This is why the Luddites have it backwards. This should be a mega-priority or we could all be toast if someone else comes up with it first. Imagine Al-Qaeda with nanites and US with no nanite defenses!

On the plus side, immortality is getting closer and closer! We're making WAY faster progress on both fronts than I had expected even a year ago!

Posted by Janessa Ravenwood at October 29, 2003 10:21 AM

My paranoid fantasy is a group of young scientist huddle around a petri dish watching a diamond grow, unaware that replication errors are turning things into the grey goo nightmare scenario!

Then I wake up realizing that the energy and control requirements along with the generated heat of any mechanical design would destroy the process long before anything useful or dangerous could be produced.

Then I go back to bed and new dreams of biological designs keep me from getting any rest.

So I have a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster! and dream like a baby...

Posted by at October 30, 2003 04:37 AM

Anon: are you saying you don't believe ANY nanotechnology is possible, or just that scenario?

Posted by Janessa Ravenwood at October 30, 2003 09:53 AM

Anonymous #3 poster, it's interesting that you distinguish between nanotech -- which you regard as impossible for fundamental energistic and other physical reasons -- and biology... which is very clearly functioning nicely, thank you, at the same size scale.

Eric Drexler, among others, long ago used biological examples to demonstrate that nanoscale machinery was possible. Did you fail to do your research, or are you trolling?

Posted by Troy at October 30, 2003 11:42 AM

Troy: you beat me to it. I was going to point out that DNA IS nanotechnology, but I was waiting to hear his answer first as I wasn't certain if he was referring to some specific early prototype nanotech or something.

Posted by Janessa Ravenwood at October 30, 2003 03:20 PM

I think people tend to think of MNT as "magic" rather than applied engineering. I don't expect it to be fast, after all, beef doesn't grow over night - but it will be cheap and accurate - it could certainly be a boon for various industries.

I am keep a close eye on this as it looks like the next big market to get into.

Posted by Dave at October 31, 2003 08:13 AM

Dave: It won't be THAT slow. Just because cows don't grow fast doesn't mean that other creatures don't, or that it can't be done. It may not be "hollywood fast", but it'll be WAY faster than the time it takes a cow to grow up (at least when it's mature, at first, well, who knows...)

Posted by Janessa Ravenwood at October 31, 2003 10:59 AM

The nanofactory discussed in Rand's link is estimated to output a 4 kg, mostly-diamondoid product in about 3 hours, with a power input of some 200 kW. Granted that this is just an estimate (based on further estimates, since the mechanochemical fabricator isn't yet designed), the numbers are nonetheless believable.

Part of the reason for this believability is the detailed method of construction: the finished product is assembled in 19 nested steps, bottom-up, from a very large number of 200-nm parts; virtually all the time is spent making these billion-atom parts, while the iterative assembly of the parts takes only seconds to minutes. This is entirely consistent with biological assembly, where cells a hundred times this size have "manufacturing" times much smaller.

Another way of looking at it: point out the animal which uses a 200 kW power input, and I'll show you one with amazing growth rates!

Posted by Troy at October 31, 2003 06:38 PM

Post a comment

Email Address: