December 2009

For Darwin’s sake, reject “Darwin-ism”
 (and other pernicious terms)

December 31, 2009

– Darwin – On this last day of the bicentennial of Darwin’s birth, I’d like to suggest that we honor Darwin by rejecting the dubious term “Darwinism”. To call something an “ism” suggests that it is a matter ideology or faith, like Trotskyism or creationism. In the evolution wars, the term “evolutionism” is used to […]

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“There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom”
(Richard Feynman, Pasadena, 29 December 1959)

December 29, 2009

Richard Feynman, 1959 “Feynman’s 1959 talk, entitled ‘There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom’”, was delivered 50 years ago today, and the words I’ve quoted above are the first words in the first sentence of the first paper I wrote, almost 30 years ago, on what later became known as “nanotechnology”. Feynman read and discussed […]

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Khan Academy:
On a mission to educate the world (for free)

December 28, 2009

The responsible party (left) I got a pointer to a free, online educational resource today. It deserves more attention. The eyeballs of a few million students might be a good start. Students in elementary school, grad school, rural Africa… places like that. It consists of 1000+ brief lectures on YouTube. It centers on math, but […]

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The Molecular Machine Path
to Molecular Manufacturing (2):
Exploiting Improved Methods and Building Blocks

December 27, 2009

Part 4 of a series on the history and prospects of advanced nanotechnology concepts, prompted by the upcoming 50th anniversary of Feynman’s historic talk, “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom”. Rigid, structurally diverse bis-peptide oligomers C. Schafmeister, JACS, 2006 In this post, I’d like to outline the promise of fabrication technologies that are within […]

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Update to

“The promise that launched
 the field of nanotechnology”

December 27, 2009

Part of a series on the history and prospects of advanced nanotechnology concepts, prompted by the upcoming 50th anniversary of Feynman’s historic talk, “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom”. I’ve updated my recent post, “The promise that launched the field of nanotechnology”, with the following graphic and caption: Engines of Creation, boosted by the […]

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The Molecular Machine Path
to Molecular Manufacturing (1):
Foldamers and Brownian Assembly

December 25, 2009

Part 3 of a series prompted by the upcoming 50th anniversary of Feynman’s historic talk, “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom”. Lathe, 1911 A machine tool, used to make machines In my view, the most attractive way forward in developing advanced molecular machine systems is by exploiting the molecular machine systems that are available […]

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More about less opportunity for young scientists

December 22, 2009

NIH defunds young scientists I recently wrote about the trend away from funding young scientists as independent investigators, with a graph of age distributions at NIH and related observations here. There’s been a lively discussion at the Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science blog. I posted a link there to an NIH dataset [XLS […]

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Basement development? Big leaps?

December 20, 2009

Part 2.1 of a series on the history and prospects of advanced nanotechnology concepts, prompted by the upcoming 50th anniversary of Feynman’s historic talk, “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom”. A commenter on the previous post has aired the often-mentioned basement-breakthrough scenario for achieving high-level molecular manufacturing. This scenario makes no sense, and I […]

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Molecular Manufacturing: Where’s the progress?

December 19, 2009

Part 2 of a series on the history and prospects of advanced nanotechnology concepts, prompted by the upcoming 50th anniversary of Feynman’s historic talk, “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom”. John Stewart Mill Debugging defects in human thought As cognitive psychologists know, we human beings suffer from multiple, systematic cognitive biases, aberrations of intellectual […]

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The promise that launched

 the field of nanotechnology

December 15, 2009

Part 1 of a series on the history and prospects of advanced nanotechnology concepts, prompted by the upcoming 50th anniversary of Feynman’s historic talk, “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom”. When the first million readers encountered “nanotechnology” Now, over 20 years after the fact, it is easy to forget that a concept called “nanotechnology” […]

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How many minds produce knowledge
(and how they don’t)

December 11, 2009

How groups think and how to do it better A review of Infotopia I’ve been discussing problems with public information and ways to improve it with Michael Nielsen, and on this topic, he recommended Infotopia: how many minds produce knowledge by Cass Sunstein. Having just finished reading it, I recommend it too. With a solid […]

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Quantum-coupled single-electron
thermal to electric conversion

December 4, 2009

“Quantum-coupled single-electron thermal to electric conversion scheme” An analysis in the current Journal of Applied Physics shows how to achieve solid-state conversion of thermal energy to electrical power by exploiting the physics of coupled quantum dots, delivering high power density at an efficiency close to the Carnot limit. The work also provides an excellent example […]

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