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Nanotech Advances Forward 70

dar writes "Scientists have built a transistor a single molecule wide that works at room temperature. " Nanotech continues to move forward - while each step is interesting in itself, we've still got a long ways to go before I can have my can of nanobots.
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Nanotech Advances Forward

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Some things like real estate will still be a scarce resource, so we can not just do away with ``old-fasioned'' ideas like monetary exchange, which seem to be the thrust of your ignorant utopian postulate.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Nah... they'll only put 6.02*10e23 on each chip, so they can predict the weight of the chip easier.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    MEMS is also used to make all-optical (photonic) telecom switches. I think they are used to move tiny mirrors to change the direction of the light from a fiber.
  • haha, a comment about redundancy rated redundant, cute.
  • Originally, that was Richard Feynman's idea, a challenge to the scientific community to initiate the age of nanotechnology... think it was in Japan, in the early 60's.

    um, er... eh -- *click*
  • Okay, this may sound like a troll It does indeed. The last sentence was a particularly nice touch.

    But here goes anyway. Basically, a transistor only allows you to use one signal to switch on and off a current. One transistor isn't enough for computations. There's a certain minimal number, but I'm not into hardware so I don't know what that would be.

  • Nanotech Advances Forward

    Just let us know when it starts advancing backwards, OK?

  • Wow !
    I thought because they were so small they would advance backwards !!
  • If this pans out,maybe battery life will cease to be an issue.
    Of course, we'll have to wait 15-20 years to find out :-(
    The tiny device can be toggled on and off using a single electron. The experiment could eventually lead to vast power savings over today's transistors, which require several hundred to millions of electrons to perform the same function.
  • What does it take to reach beyond the end of the universe? A little bit of imagination! A problem is always an opportunity in disguise - as for the can't do attitude: apply some lateral thinking. Sure, building little vehicles with rocks is challenging... however there is much more available, such as electrostatics and other forces which could be utilised. The nano-devices do not need to have their logic inbuilt, why couldn't they be remotely controlled by much larger entities which do the thinking for the nan-devices? Why would the nanobots need pinchers? They could use the force! :) Sounds silly, well investigate how IBM moved atoms around using a microscope.

    "And our backyards aren't filled with antibodies and other same-sized life forms looking to kill stuff. "

    What is influenza? It may not be intentially looking to kill stuff. But the end result is that is does, based on the directives it follows.

    Logic is powerful - no matter how simple. Apply logic and a map for a device to follow and complex tasks can be carried out.

    Think outside the norm for a little while and apply some general knowledge. Of course a backhoe will have difficulty building another backhoe, but imagine an enzyme which when combined with correct substrates creates devices capable of performing tasks of verying nature (kinetic, chemical, electrical, magnetic etc.) and the enzyme is not destroyed during the process.

    Why bother trying to split the atom. It is a known fact that an atom cannot be split.

    To answer your question "Is it just me, or are hopes for nano-tech out of whack with any actual possible reality? "

    Who knows until you try? People who achieve the impossible either are too ignorant to know it can't be done, or they watched a lot of the Muppet Babies as a kid and applied a little imagination and lateral thinking.

  • Nah, By that time they will be putting 10e26 transistors in every chip and we'll still be using massive amounts of power. Not that I'd mind of course.......
  • Hey Hemos, came out with another article. Feel like linking to it? Content initiated. Just another lazy-ass topic by Hemos. Slashdot has fallen so far. It's just like that radio show on PBS "Wait, wait, don't tell me." that pretends to be content but is really a rehash of Reuters "Oddly enough" news.

  • Makes the smallest web server [] seem pretty huge, hunh?

    But seriously, the ramifications of nanotechnology are pretty scary. I thought the Foresight Institute [] was supposed to be about becoming aware of them, and keeping the scary ones from becoming reality. Now it seems like they just push the science forward as fast as possible. Did they get so much resistance to the idea of nanotechnology being real that they got permanently distracted into proving that it is?

    This is one technology which might not let us clean up the mess afterwards (like what's happening now with genetic modification).

  • No troll. The idea of some "minimum number" is I guess what I was wondering about. I didn't mean a single transistor. Only that 100 or 1000 of them -- or whatever the number -- is really all that appears to be needed for useful application. While I'm sure research is needed on how to assemble even two of these things on a chip, it just seemed to me that the performance characteristics of the invention meant that manufacture could be simplified more than the parent post implied.

    As I mentioned, though, I'm not entirely sure if these things actually are the fabled 0-time quantum chips or if they're just really small, or what they are. Sorry to be unclear.

  • try chunky peanut butter or green ketchup or both.
  • You, Sir, are a Troll. If I had mod points, I'd label you as such.
  • Nanotech is BS? Though I will agree that what the US' definition of Nanotechnology is pathetic, the rest of the world, I think, has a better understanding at just how important Nanotech is.

    Nanotechnology is going to change everything: It will destroy all governments, the money system, and perhaps maybe even religion (I'm hoping).

    You say the public won't be in favor of Nanotech - and my response to that is 'Who Cares?' - the 'public' is nothing more than a bunch of worthless Neanderthals anyway. If war ensues over Nanotech, all someone has to do is sick the 'The Gray Goo' on the 'public' and it's game over from there.
  • Yeah, I remember micromachines. I used to have a tons of them. And the carwash, and lots of other stuff. They rocked! ;-]
  • The smaller you make things the cheaper they get, the less power they use and the more stuff you can pack on them.
  • Nanotech will simply cause the collapse of our current economy. Think of it, a machine that can build it self and then build anything; assemble any material, out of thin air. This is when we will have to TRULY move to an information economy..
  • Well, I was referring to this []. From earlier today, calm down, it was a joke :)

  • "What if... The Nanobots build their own Nanobots! "

    That's actually part of the idea.. When all the nanobots that are maintaining your internal organs and making you immortal start to fail, the ones that are still working will cannibalize the dead ones (and get whatever other materials they need... if this comes true people will probably have to take vitamins to feed their nanobots) and build replacements.

  • ..." but I believe that "gray goo" fantasies are as far removed from reality as artificial intelligence or cold fusion. ..."

    these are 3 completely different things with completely different reasons for lack of success:

    "artificial inteligence" is a general term for a wide range of problems: from those completely ill-defined (a software that has the mental flexibility of a human) to very specific , well defined problems (chess ... ) it is simply impossible to discuss all of them under the same roof.

    "nanotechnology" also has a wide range of problems, and some of them appear to be very close to sollution: e.g. replacing usuall building material with CNTs or INTs is not that far fetched. However building a "nanobot" - something with the functionality of a cell, or at least a virus - seems very much in the future.

    "cold fusion" , by contrast , is a very well defined problem: "produce energy from fusion reactions in an economic fashion", it is still unsuccessful because the plasmas in question are very much in non-linear domains , and physicists still cannot really deal very well with non-linear (and non-equilibrium) phenomena, despite many efforts, we haven't develloped satisfactory theoretic tools (yet ?).

    put in other words, these are completely different issues : theoretically, experimentally and even socially.
  • Where did I say that money would completely dissapear in my "utopian" post? I didn't. I simply suggested that old economics of scarce resources and unlimited desire will change to one of almost unlimited resources to match unlimited desire.

    As for realestate.....well, I plan on moving offworld, inside the first O'Neil Cylinder. There, I can design my own waterfront property (or dissapear into a fantasy reality of utility fog just as real). :-)

  • I agree - I think mankind harnessed the horse before we invented the wheel. Proteins are out there, they work at the scale we're interested in, and they are "the horse" in the environment of the very small. Later when we understand better how things work, we can make creations that do even more amazing and useful things than proteins. But one step at a time...
  • The cnet repost forum?

    "Press any key to begin."
  • Bacteria already eat sweat. That's what causes the smell in your armpits. Use something to stop the sweating or wear a deodorant!
  • this is the correct link to your fishtank []
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Resident Bush announced today, the allocation of 2.6 Trillion U.S. dollars towards developing nanotechnology to infiltrate the communist country of China.

    "With these new Advances Forward moving forward ahead into the future our country will be the first before anybody to capitalize, and take advantave of those new little robot thingies. We no longer need a missile defense system America, we need little robots, and we're confident, and secure that someone will create the next step in the future of advanced technology to push ahead forward into the future." stated the Resident.

    "At this point in time right now, we are looking into purchasing the next model nanospy, H4NSS3N, which will work to our advantage for our gain in the fight to secure our country's great land of our country." stated Mr. Bush.

    Many are looking ahead into nanotechnology as the cure for cancers, and other medical woes. We just hope someday in the future, we don't become reverse engineered by our own technology.

    &copy 2001 Disassociated Press ®
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The link to the research article is at 7/76 (unfotunately cost 5 bucks if you have no subscription) The design of this SET is extremely simple: The article decribes it as follows: "single-electron transistors by inducing two buckles in series within an individual metallic single-wall carbon nanotube...Nanotube between Au electrodes on top of a Si/SiO2 substrate " or in other words: Take a bucky tube, put it between two gold electrodes mounted on a silicon chip, use the atomic Force microscope to bend the bucky tube and you are done. What is very surprising to me is the simplicity of this device. No rare elements or especially difficult handiwork, just two bends. As for how it works: The authors believe that the bends produce a section of the buckytube that essetially behave as if it is a dot, and that electrons tunnel in and out of the dot. And the "dot"'s conduction is very dependent on bias and gate voltage, the dependence is such that a single electron is enogh to operate it. P.S. my paraphrase is not rigorous so please read the article for more info.
  • If you only had a few, how would you know they were there?


  • And you thought the toilet seat was cold in the morning, before your brother got to it with a healthy dose of liquid nitrogen!

  • So are many /. articles.

  • Yes - carbon nanotube sized molecule.

    Given that's particularly unhelpful to most people, let me start by pointing out that these beast vary in size.

    The molecular size aspect relates to the width, not length of the device, and that width is not dissimilar from a single strand of a polymer (such as polystyrene), but it varies a lot. They mean around the 10's of Angstroms sort of size.

    As a side point, atom size is illdefined, and the only reasonable measure is the covalent radii, which are defined in terms of bond length.
  • What happened to those? Are they being made but covered up by NDAs? Did they jump ahead too far, then had to go back to do more basic research on the properties of materials at that? Surely SOMEONE on Slashdot works at a materials lab and can clue me in.

    Nope. The Visual Quantum Mechanics Asst [] brought all the tiny pieces to my High School where a student inadvertantly knocked them from the tech's hand. The entire class has spent the last 6 years picking them up. Sorry about that, we'll return them to the science community real soon.

  • google cache [] (site was down it. URL too long to post one line for verification as well) [] []
  • This just in:
    In a remarkable feat of linguistobatics Hemos has outdone hisself in bringing "bushonics" to the popular press table.
  • Problem is they keep dropping them and stepping on them. Little buggers are hard to see.
  • Hardware is constructed inside a sugar cube.


    • while (location() != ANT);

    Bill, hates ants. Really hates ants.

    Ants deserve death, death, death, death, and more death, until they are dead!

  • What happened to those? Are they being made but covered up by NDAs? Did they jump ahead too far, then had to go back to do more basic research on the properties of materials at that scale? Surely SOMEONE on Slashdot works at a materials lab and can clue me in.

    A company called Zyvex plans to build such micro-scaled machines. Check out their website [] for details

  • It's when they start advancing backward that I'll be a bit more perturbed.


  • Or like suggesting that one bacterium could build another bacterium. Ridiculous! That could never happen.

    Ugh. I was hoping nobody would waste band-width with that lame logic, but I guess I'll deal with it:

    Nanotech is massively inferior to the living micro-organisms which already populate the world.

    Nanotech is all about micro-robotics; manipulating the world through kinetics. KINETICS. Little motors running little legs and pincers. Not. . , I repeat, NOT molecule modifying enzymes and chemicals. I seriously doubt that tiny metalic bugs with microscopic CanadaArms are going to to be able to unlock atoms which have been covalently bonded to other atoms. If you can't pull apart a diamond with your fingers, then how can you expect a robotic bug to have any better luck?

    Now, Bio-engineering. . , that's a whole other ball of wax. Biotech is powerful. Nanotech is just the retarded younger brother which will never catch up to the millions of years of evolution which brought us living things.

    All I'm saying is that little tiny robots are going to be far more limited in their power and application than popular fiction suggests. -Sorry to dash the hopes and dreams, (saccharine delusions), of a wonder/terror-world future based on nano-tech, cuz it's just plain dumb and misdirected. There are far more important things going on!

    Why the heck can't geeks just get over their inferiority complexes and face the fact that the world around us right now is already massively complex and that it is the one we ought to concentrate on living in? Digital is a powerful tool at best and a hallucinogenic false hope at worst.

    Remember your Star Wars: The Dark Path is always easier.

    Learn to manipulate reality; not a bunch of ones and zeros, or you'll end up looking all pasty like the Emperor.

    -Fantastic Lad

  • Okay, this may sound like a troll, but it's honest ignorance.

    Isn't one of the huge advantages of quantum computing supposed to be to zero or near zero switching time? And if that's the case, couldn't you just take a couple of these things and architect around "as if parallel" rather than today's "as if serial"?

    IANACD, and my knowledge of chip design could probably fit on one of these quantum transistors, but my understanding is that the high transistor count of today's processors goes to supporting parallelism rather than preserving state. Insofar as that is true, a chip cycling a million times faster could use one-millionth of the transistors to achieve the same performance -- you'd wind up with the same number of logical operations per second. Manufacturing problem...if not solved, enormously simplified.

    BTW, I'd love it if someone could post some "intermediate level" links on quantum chips. Between the gee whiz popular press and page-length equations, there has to be some good stuff.

    My whole life I've scoffed at those simpletons who can't tell the difference between science and science fiction. Now I'm one of them.

  • There was an excellent short story that appeared in OMNI magazine in the seventies that centered around that very idea. Essentially, the bulder started with one "big" robot that made smaller copies of itself, that made smaller copies of themselves, and so on - using scavenged materials from their parents.
    I would appreciate it if anyone else could give the title/issue that it appeared in. I've always wanted to dig it up and read it again.
  • Ok. I've worked in robotics and I can tell you that we are a long, long way from anything that can reproduce itself. The materials we use are totally different from nature, as is the process of creation. Nature builds cell by cell, for the most part. We use chunks of metal and other stuff, bolted, screwed, soldiered, and otherwise connected together.

    If you think that people are eagerly researching "self-reproduction," you are wrong. Most robots are created to assist humans in a specific function. There's simply no money in "self-reproduction," even of a limited sort-- hence few people, if any, are working on it. It took nature millions of years to design even primitive self-reproducing chemicals, yet you believe we will do it in a thousand or a hundred thousand?

    Moreover, nature's "motivation" is a lot different from ours. We create machines for specific tasks, but in nature things exist only to propogate themselves. Why should we want to duplicate the waste, the inaccuracy, and the general sloppiness of nature? Aren't a million forms of bacteria enough for you?

    What the future will bring, nobody can say, but I believe that "gray goo" fantasies are as far removed from reality as artificial intelligence or cold fusion. They've never been proved impossible, but damn near close. We already have sciences that deal with matter on a small scale. They're called chemistry and physics, and the engineering disciplines for these are chemical engineering and mechanical engineering. Stop living in a fantasy world and do something that will matter in 50 years.

  • really learn Hemos to concisely speak needs to more.

  • "Advance Forward" is redundant.

    Yeah, this story should have been:

    from the dept.-of-redundancy dept.

  • Ever see microtubles "walk" by accepting an enzyme into their structure? They are able to change their conformation to "squeeze" along macrotubles (in a cell) the way an inch worm travels. The real problem w/micro/nano tech is that we are trying to re-invent the wheel.

    The only advances that we will ever see is if we begin to manipulate protien structures w/different bonds so that they form the shape that we want them to, and do the work required of them. That will solve the whole friction problem, as well as release their own energy, and all we have to do is give them a couple of pre fabricated weak phosphate chains!

    Once we use the hydrogen chain and proton pumps to "shoot" hydorgen atoms across the membrane potential, we will be doing the same work as micromachines in a completely organic solution, and we will have created the beginnings of sentient life in one step.

    I've heard about these micro/nano machines for years. They just don't do the job they're supposed to.

    Protien is the way to go.

  • Single molecule doesn't mean much at all. In fact many people don't realize that conventional Microprocessors are built upon a silicon substrate that is formed by taking thin slices from a relatively large cylinder of solid silicon. This cylinder is usually a foot wide, 2-5 feet long.. and is ONE MOLECULE. It is sliced into thin wafers and then printed with sometimes 1000 chips per wafer. The only thing that is noteworthy is the fact that this article states that the transistors are a micron wide. That, in reality, isn't much smaller than transistors in your P4 or Athlon. -freija
  • It's from Douglas Adams, but its style is quite like Larry Niven (Ringworld). Still good stuff, though.
  • To make a circuit from these would be like assembuiling it from discrete transistors, but at a near molecular level.

    Speaking of molecular level, when this story refers to molecule-sized transistors, is there a specific molecule size they are talking about? If I'm not sadly mistaken, different molecules have different sizes (e.g. a molecule of C6H12O6 is larger than a molecule of H2O). The same is true from atoms -- Si > H, etc. Not that it'd make that much of a difference, though.

    MSFT merges with AOLTW:
  • Well, to get a little more technical, a functions as a gateway, and the amount of electricity that is let through is controled by a potentially much smaller signal. In digital curcuitry the states are only useful as on/off, but even in analog it is a question of how much / if a signal is sent through. Because of entropy, the only way to amplfy a signal is to use it to control a much larger one.
  • by Thorgal ( 3103 ) <thorgal@ami g a . c> on Friday July 06, 2001 @03:25PM (#103106) Homepage
    A transistor can also be used as on/off switch and that actually is its primary function in digital circuits.
  • by foog ( 6321 ) <> on Friday July 06, 2001 @03:07PM (#103107)
    The buzzword now is MEMS (Microelectromechanical Systems), and there are a few real applications, like optical switching, TI's display technology, and some sensor technology.

    In large part, though, MEMS is still a solution in search of a problem.

    Also, "micro" is a rather different scale than "nano".

  • by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Friday July 06, 2001 @05:03PM (#103108) Homepage
    One nanite Will Not be able to build another nanite. -That's like suggesting that a backhoe can build another backhoe. Retarded.

    Or like suggesting that one bacterium could build another bacterium. Ridiculous! That could never happen.

  • by brianvan ( 42539 ) on Friday July 06, 2001 @03:08PM (#103109)
    "... at the very moment that Arthur said, "I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle," a freak wormhole opened up in the fabric of the space-time continuum and carried his words far far back in time across almost infinite reaches of space to a distant Galaxy where strange and warlike beings were poised on the brink of frightful interstellar battle.

    The two opposing leaders were meeting for the last time.

    A dreadful silence fell across the conference table as the commander of the Vl'hurgs, resplendent in his black jeweled battle shorts, gazed levelly at the G'Gugvuntt leader squatting opposite him in a cloud of green sweat-smelling steam, and, with a million sleek and horribly beweaponed star cruisers poised to unleash electric death at his single word of command, challenged the vile creature to take back what it had said about his mother.

    The creature stirred in his sickly broiling vapor, and at that very moment the words "I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my life-style" drifted across the table.

    Unfortunately, in the Vl'hurg tongue this was the most dreadful insult imaginable, and there was nothing for it but to wage terrible war for centuries.

    Eventually, of course, after their Galaxy had been decimated over a few thousand years, it was realized that the whole thing had been a ghastly mistake, and so the two opposing battle fleets settled their few remaining differences in order to launch a joint attack on our own Galaxy - now positively identified as the source of the offending remark.

    For thousands more years, the mighty ships tore across the empty wastes of space and finally dived screaming on to the first planet they came across - which happened to be Earth - where due to a terrible miscalculation of scale the entire battle fleet was accidentally swallowed by a small dog."

    The end. Courtesy of the late Douglas Adams. Keep small dogs out of the nanobot lab.
  • by ErikZ ( 55491 ) on Friday July 06, 2001 @02:50PM (#103110)
    First the quantum dots now this.
    Ok! We got it already! It's possible to make computational devises very small! Considering that how small the traces are on new chips, this doesn't seem like a big deal to me.

    Back in 1990 I did a paper on micro machines for college. I was excited. Pictures of gears made with a tunneling microscope, engines being made in labs. Really, really, small screws.

    What happened to those? Are they being made but covered up by NDAs? Did they jump ahead too far, then had to go back to do more basic research on the properties of materials at that scale? Surely SOMEONE on Slashdot works at a materials lab and can clue me in.

  • by joq ( 63625 ) on Friday July 06, 2001 @02:32PM (#103111) Homepage Journal

    Someone contact the makers of all these nanobots, as well as "The Learning Channel" staff and create "Nanobot Wars" ... Who can create the toughest meanest little fscker on the planet. Only problem is how would the cameramen/women feel about shooting this... What if !#$ What if... The Nanobots build their own Nanobots!
  • by _Mustang ( 96904 ) on Friday July 06, 2001 @02:56PM (#103112)
    From the article - " built a transistor from only a single molecule one nanometer wide ...The tiny device can be toggled on and off using a single electron... "

    It's been some time since I did any real electronics but I thought I remembered that a transistors' function is to amplify signal. And I also thought that the whole basis for the binary machine (aka computer)was that logic gate on/off process, hence the "digital" concept. Does this mean that nanotech actually allows us to reduce complexity at the same time as we increase the capability of this "circuit" ..?
  • by Glowing Fish ( 155236 ) on Friday July 06, 2001 @03:04PM (#103113) Homepage

    Not that we really need to have it legalized, since obviously the people who need it can get access to it, as evidenced by the fact that we have ice cream cookie sandwhiches, and transisters one molecule wide, dude .
    I can only imagine the brainstorming sessions.

    Dude, what if we had a transister so small, you could fit a million of them into, like, a screen, and they would know how to let only the primo molecules through?

    No way, man... I got even better idea. How 'bout we make a single molecule into a transister, and it would be all bio-enhanced to go right to the pre-frontal stonal gyrus?

    dude, that is an awesome idea...and we could run the whole thing off a nine, 9 millivolt, er...pico, er...

    Man, we could run it off of the breath of a spirit butterfly!

  • Search back in Slashdot for AIDS and Nanotech and you'll find a story that will destroy your entire argument.

    While I doubt we'll have nanobots flying around and patroling the world in the next decade, your view is quite short-sighted. No shit Bio-tech seems wonderful to you - it already has major results... DNA recombination in bacteria as one huge example. Somehow I doubt nanotech will stagnate at its current state of buckyballs/tubes with theoretical applications. Biotech certainly went beyond Watson/Crick theorizing the structure of DNA. Sure, people are going a bit crazy with nanotech prophecies (thanks in no small part to The Diamond Age), but to flat out deny any possible impact of nanotechnology is insanity. I can guarantee you we'll be able to make a microrobot that can do a complex job before we can engineer a microbe to do the same thing (unless that job is intrinsically biological like most other biotech applications). Biotech is undoubtedly impressive, but it, like nanotech, has limits.
  • by NanoProf ( 245372 ) on Friday July 06, 2001 @04:03PM (#103115)

    Micromachines are currently in practical use, at least very simple ones. The most common application (to my limited knowledge) is airbag acceleration sensors. A small silicon cantilever bends under acceleration and a resulting electrical signal sets off the air bag. I very simple micromachine.

    Other applications are in the works, but progress on complex machines is difficult since most devices are built with lithography, and lithography naturally produces two-dimensional structures, not three. For example, microfluidics is a potential application, where small tubes and pumps analyze microscopic amounts of fluid for various e.g. chemical/biological assays, etc.

    It's a long way from "I can build a gear" to "I can build a gear and a motor and a shaft and connect them to a couple hundred other parts with minimal frictional losses, a power supply, etc. in three dimensions." Interesting things will be coming, but it'll be very incremental as researchers built up a toolset.

  • by sharkey ( 16670 ) on Friday July 06, 2001 @04:10PM (#103116)
    The heck with TLC, call Comedy Central! They can add a new Nanoweight class.

  • by Docrates ( 148350 ) on Friday July 06, 2001 @02:35PM (#103117) Homepage
    This is great news indeed, but I wouldn't call it a breakthrough. We still need to figure out a way to print the chip designs using transistors this size, and THAT's gonna be pretty hard.

    Best way to go, I would think, is to build microbots that build nanobots, that build nanochips. We won't be able to halndle nano-manufacturing directly I think.
  • by Fantastic Lad ( 198284 ) on Friday July 06, 2001 @04:07PM (#103118)
    Is it just me, or are hopes for nano-tech out of whack with any actual possible reality?

    I mean. . . Building a car out of a pile of rocks? Don't think so. Cars are made from certain elements which a pile of rocks just can't provide no matter how smart your nanotech is. Plus. . . I haven't read, 'Diamond Age', (Snow Crash was more than enough lousy, nihilistic story telling B.S. for me.), but I understand one of the main principles Neal was pushing was that things in the future would be built primarily out of diamond.

    Please. Nanites will be able to stuff on the molecular level? I mean, stacking all those carbon atoms one at a time just so. . . Give me a break. That would require robot pincers FAR smaller than the scale nanites are projected to be constructed at. Think about it! If the smallest transistor you can get is one molecule big, and you need several thousand just to make a nanite brain, then the nanite itself is going to be a behemoth by comparison to a single carbon atom.

    Plus, nanites will still have to navigate around the treacherous micro terrain. We can barely build robots today that can handle a stupid backyard 'Mars Terrain' without some serious human assistance. And our backyards aren't filled with antibodies and other same-sized life forms looking to kill stuff.

    Argh! And another thing. . ! One nanite Will Not be able to build another nanite. -That's like suggesting that a backhoe can build another backhoe. Retarded. Maybe a bunch of different nanites all working together, being fed all the right elements and micro lego bricks, will be able build a machine which can build nanites. Maybe. But that's a whole other proposition.

    The basis of most Nanotech dreams/nightmares is that the technology will prove to be self-sustaining and unstoppable. Nonsense! (See above.) Sure, nanotech will probably work, but I doubt it will instantly transform humanity into something utterly unrecognizable. Nanites are just going to be another dumb technology which costs too much and won't work reliably without a ton of tech support. --Like every other stupid high-tech product or service in the world. (Cars. Phones. Airplanes. You name it. Pull people out of the equation, and everything grinds to a halt.)

    Nanotech is not a panacea. Plus, if it works right, guaranteed, it won't work in the favor of the public.

    Fantastic Lad

    --Stephenson started out as a bloody Mac-user. Think about it! Mac-users are the least creative & intuitive people on the planet. --I mean, they drive the new Volkswagon Bugs and think they're being cool. Yeesh!

  • by Saeger ( 456549 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (jllerraf)> on Friday July 06, 2001 @03:05PM (#103119) Homepage
    You know, I really wonder what the public will think of nanotech once its huge implications hit the mainstream head-on -- in the same way that the public now "understands" Artificial Intelligence thanks to the movies. Dateline to the rescue! *grin*

    Will Foresight [] succeed in educating people, or will the public inflate nanotech companies with their hopes and dreams, in the same way as biotech/internet companies, expecting another [stock appreciation] revolution in a "new-new economy?" Of course, we'll get the revolution [of abundance], but I wonder how long it will take people to figure out that there will be even more FuckedCompany's [] when it finally sinks in what it means to be able to manipulate matter with the same ease as bits of data.

    ...and we all know how easy it's been to convince the public that artificial digital scarcity is a good thing, right? But, without real material scarcity, there's no motivation to try and rationalize the sale of intangibles in order to pay for once scarce tangibles.

    Give me some molecules, some sunlight, a molecular blueprint, the magic nano bootstrap process, and I'm in business!.........unless someone claims a monopoly on atoms or sunlight that is. :)

  • by DarkMan ( 32280 ) on Friday July 06, 2001 @02:59PM (#103120) Journal
    That was a particilurly uninformative article, so heres a little more:

    The system involves cabon nanotubes (hence why it got into Science [0]). These devices, sometimes called buckytubes, are semiconductors. Production of a Y junction, which was seen as a prerequisite to transistor like behaviour, was achived about 6 months to a year ago, in various groups (exact time depends on pwhich group and precise nature of the tube).

    It's nice to see the somone's made a transistor from this stuff, but it won't replace silicon in the near future.

    These are independant devices, and do not lend themselves to lithographic techniques. At least, not by any method thus far discovered.

    To make a circuit from these would be like assembuiling it from discrete transistors, but at a near molecular level.
  • by tim_maroney ( 239442 ) on Friday July 06, 2001 @04:22PM (#103121) Homepage
    What happened to those?

    They turned out to be far more problematic than anticipated, like most new technologies. Gears stick together, levers bend, everything wears out. It turns out that microsurfaces are different enough from macrosurfaces that the basic mechanisms that work on the macroscale fail on the microscale.

    Unfortunately, it's not online except for subscribers, but the always interesting Science News [] did an article [] on the problem last year:

    Unexpectedly strong friction and other surface forces are hindering development of some microscopic machines, such as these microgears with teeth 9 micrometers long. Researchers are turning to a new frontier of surface science for answers about sticking and wear.

    There are micromachines that work, as other posters have noted, but the idea that larger-scale mechanical engineering could be easily projected into the microworld has now been discredited. Nanotechnology will present even greater challenges.

    Tim Maroney

  • by bartle ( 447377 ) on Friday July 06, 2001 @02:35PM (#103122) Homepage

    I don't see why these scientists insist on making everything function at room temperature. At this rate liquid nitrogen will never gain household acceptance. Potentially very useful; you can use it to inflate tires, turn bananas into hammers, and cryogenically store your goldfish when you go on vacation. If this is the future, I'm not sure I want to be here.

Evolution is a million line computer program falling into place by accident.