Friday, December 31, 2004

Nano Product Radio

Do Nanotech Products Live Up to the Hype? (NPR)

    nprNanotechnology is the science of designing materials, atom by atom. It promises revolutionary applications for everything from the military to sports. NPR's David Kestenbaum investigates whether nanotech products already on the market are all they're cracked up to be. More here
Update: Kestenbaum couldn't get the precise amount of nanotubes in the Babolat tennis racket in time for the NPR report. When I assigned this story in March 2003, the company that supplied the tubes, Nanoledge, would only tell my correspondent that it was a small amount. What is sometimes lost in the rush to find a "nanotech product," by the way, is that Nanoledge hadn't really thought of the deal with Babolat as anything more than a little public-relations demonstration. As we reported almost two years ago: "The new products we are co-developing with our customers are not yet on the market, but we hope the first ones to be sold by 2006," he said, adding that the very first product of the company was a tennis racket developed with Babolat, "which does not include many nanotubes, but proved that we could get nanotubes out of the lab to the street."

NanoBot Backgrounder
Nanotennis anyone? Tiny, sporty materials have their day on court
French firm hopes to get PR bounce out of nanotubes in tennis rackets
You ain't seen nano yet
Nerd American Idol

2004 was blowin' in the wind

Last year at this time, I declared 2003 the "Year of the Straw Nanoman" because I discovered, to this naive writer's shock, that even the most brilliant of minds is not above the ancient political tactic of first stuffing your opponent full of beliefs that you can easily attack, then making a show of striking the first match.

This time around, I'll make it a bit more personal, since 2004 was a key year in my own personal and professional development. I allowed myself to become a kind of straw man, blowing from one end of nanotechnology theory and practice to another in a personal journey along the Yellow Brick Road. Yes, I was in search of a brain – or, at least I was looking to fill my existing one with as many different perspectives as possible. I've chosen to make a living writing about all aspects of this fascinating science, idea, scheme, philosophy of nanotechnology and I was not about to limit myself to only one stream of thought. I can't help it. It's what I do. I spent more than three years running a newsdesk that covered nanotech as purely a business – and there is still much more to be covered there – but ultimately found that boundary frustratingly limited.

It is, I hope, a testament to my ability to accurately portray other schools of thought that I am sometimes handed the burden of being identified as an adherent to them. At times, it's painted me into a corner and has forced some doors shut on me. It can be disheartening, but then I think about my core mission as a journalist and try to remember that my goal is not to please my readers, but to inform them and challenge them. I hope I've done a little bit of both.

In 2004, I've gone from low to high, from heaven to hell, from socks to pants to … well … no socks and no pants, from art to business, from politics to pixels, from memory to sight, from environment to environment.

And I'm only beginning.

Tonight, my family and I will build a bonfire up here in the woods of Northern Michigan, and we'll write on slips of paper either our regrets for the previous year or hopes for the new one – and then throw them into the flames. Last year, I wrote a hope: "Integrity." Tonight, I'll write a hope as well, rather than look back in anger.

Like the poet says:

    Don't have the inclination to look back on any mistake
    like Cain I now behold this chain of events that I must break
    In the fury of the moment I can see the master's hand
    In every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand

Thursday, December 30, 2004

On the road

Traveling today and blogging via cell phone. Will have year in review later.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The Economist gives nano big play

Small wonders (The Economist)

    ATOMS are the fundamental building blocks of matter, which means they are very small indeed. The world at the scale of atoms and molecules is difficult to describe and hard to imagine. It is so odd that it even has its own special branch of physics, called quantum mechanics, to explain the strange things that happen there. If you were to throw a tennis ball against a brick wall, you might be surprised if the ball passed cleanly through the wall and sailed out on the other side. Yet this is the kind of thing that happens at the quantum scale. At very small scales, the properties of a material, such as colour, magnetism and the ability to conduct electricity, also change in unexpected ways.

    It is not possible to “see” the atomic world in the normal sense of the word, because its features are smaller than the wavelength of visible light. But back in 1981, researchers at IBM designed a probe called the scanning tunnelling microscope (STM), named after a quantum-mechanical effect it employs. Rather like the stylus on an old-fashioned record player, it could trace the bumps and grooves of the nanoscale world. This allowed scientists to “see” atoms and molecules for the first time. It revealed landscapes as beautiful and complex as the ridges, troughs and valleys of a Peruvian mountainside, but at the almost unimaginably small nanometre (nm) scale.

    A nanometre is a billionth of a metre, or roughly the length of ten hydrogen atoms. Although scientists had thought about tinkering with things this small as long ago as the late 1950s, they had to wait until the invention of the STM to make it possible. More here

Also in The Economist
A discussion with Natasha Loder, Science and Technology Correspondent of The Economist
Offer to readers

There goes the nanohood

Nano Technology Leading Edge -- A new wave in performance products!! (Lifewave Products LLC)

    nanogirlIncrease your Energy and Stamina?

    Discover the secrets!

    As seen on TV during the Olympics and in the news worldwide.

    Used by Ron Coleman 6X Mr. Olympia, NFL football players,Soccer Players, U.S. Swim Team Just to name a Few. Developed for the U.S. Navy Seals. Now available to the World. But wait, there's more here!

NanoBot Backgrounder
Dirty diesel done 'nano' cheap?
Nano Snake Oil?
Is this nanotechnology?

Get yer red-hot nano jobs

Toxicologist in Nanotechnology Characterization Lab (Science Applications International Corp.)

    The Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory provides pre-clinical assessment and characterization of nanoparticles and devices that will be used for cancer research. You will identify and characterize toxicological and safety concerns unique to nanomaterials. Will also assume an active and highly responsible role in projects directed at characterizing the nanomaterial properties in animal models and in vitro assays. This characterization will include ADME/Tox screening, structure-activity studies, efficacy, and the particles ability to actively/passively target tumors. More here
NanoBot Backgrounder
'All we have is speculation on toxicity'
NanoTox a NIOSH priority
Wanted: NanoEthicist at Penn

Hard Machines

Does Nanosystems contain obvious errors that can quickly be shown to invalidate it? (Richard Jones, Soft Machines)

    No. It’s a carefully written book that reflects well the state of science in relevant fields at the time of writing. Drexler’s proposals for radical nanotechnology do not obviously break physical laws. There are difficulties, though, of two types. Firstly, in many cases, Drexler used the best tools available at the time of writing, and makes plausible estimates in the face of considerable uncertainty. Since then, though, nanoscale science has considerably advanced and in some places the picture needs to be revised. Secondly, many proposals in Nanosystems are not fully worked out, and many vital components and mechanisms remain at the level of “black boxes". More here
NanoBot Backgrounder
We all live in a nano submarine
Stop worrying and learn to love nanobots

Get your nanomotor runnin'

Molecular motor goes both ways (Technology Research News)

    University of Edinburgh researchers have constructed a molecular motor that can spin in either direction, much like the biological molecular motors involved in many of life's processes.

    The motor consists of a pair of interlocking rings; the smaller ring travels clockwise or counterclockwise around the larger ring depending on the order in which several chemical reactions are carried out on the molecule.

    The motor could eventually be used in nanotechnology applications like nanomechanical computers and molecular assembly. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
Class, take out your nanotoxicology texts
Feynman's missing pieces
Engines of Obfuscation
Berkeley to play with tiny tinkertoys

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Stop worrying and learn to love nanobots declares that "Robert A. Freitas Jr. is one of the best-known nano-scientists ..." Well, not to take anything away from Freitas, but the fact that he has a better-recognized name among the general public than any other nanoscientist out there speaks volumes about how far nanotech researchers need to go before they're recognized outside their own circles.

First, a few words about Freitas. I've corresponded with him, met him in person and know many people who are in awe of his work, but what he does is quite different from the work being done by those who toil in the nanomedicine of today. This is an important point to make because this kind of confusion turns up constantly in general-interest publications that breeze through nanotech.

The nanomedicine researchers of today would rather not hear about Freitas and his theories about respirocytes (artificial red blood cells) and other nanobot-ish stuff that folks like Tim Harper gleefully belittle. In fact, as you've seen with Chad Mirkin, many of today's nanoscientists react in anger at the F-name or what he stands for.

His "Nanomedicine" book series is really the only one of its kind, but is controversial. A new volume describes "the many possible mechanical, physiological, immunological, cytological, and biochemical responses of the human body to the in vivo introduction of medical nanodevices, especially medical nanorobots."

In other words, he's measuring the body's responses to technology that does not yet exist. He's certainly leapfrogging. Harper has hammered away at it as "more idle speculation sold as science."

Well, even I know that most true scientists believe there is a need for theorists to run on ahead and check out the landscape. That's pretty much all Einstein did sitting there in the Swiss patent office a century ago: tons and tons and tons of mind-blowingly brilliant speculation that we're all still sorting through.

Really what this is about is not science at all, but about ensuring government and venture capital support for near-term nanotech. It's very strange to me, though, that today's nanomedicine researchers feel the need to advance their own agendas by belittling folks like Freitas. Likewise, many of Freitas' followers pretty much dismiss the brilliant nanobiotech work being done today as unimportant and unrelated to their long-term "Fantastic Voyage" vision.

The two camps are, in fact, involved in completely separate endeavors. What they should be doing is pointing to one another as simply operating on different levels of the nanotech timeline. Nanotech researchers who play ball with the U.S. government belittle the Freitas' vision on one hand, but then lay out 20-year nanomedicine visions that sound very much like the Freitas vision.

Freitas, like the Foresight Institute with which he is associated, is coming out with plans on what to do with technology before the actual technology comes into existence to make the plans relevant. Nanoscientists who know their history and can envision where their work will take them a few decades from now surely must understand that Freitas is playing a necessary role.

So, like an artist who is working on an assembler animation told me: Go ahead, throw potshots at it. But while the argument rages over what is not possible, somebody had to "put this stake in the ground" and make the first move toward creating "a clear image of what we think is possible."

Let me throw an idea out there, then. Since the mainstream media are going to lump Freitas in with folks like Mirkin, James Baker and even Rick Smalley, why not go with that idea and use it to help the general public understand what it is you're doing now and how it might or might not tie in with the more-easily-understandable Freitas-type vision. Just a suggestion.

Remember, you may not like it, but those who are moved by images of flying diamondoid nanobots are more numerous than those who get excited about nanoparticles for MRIs or buckyballs as drug-delivery devices ... and they vote, and they buy magazines.

NanoBot Backgrounder
How big is nano?
Good medicine, bad medicine
Nanobots: Body and antibody
Do no harm: Don't forget Freitas

A downsized NASA

Summary of Buyout/Early Retirement Plan for FY 2005 - 2006 for NASA Ames Research Center (

    Ames has conducted a comprehensive, strategic review of its human capital to identify the critical competencies needed to support new NASA strategies, program priorities, and budgetary limitations. This review indicated a need to rebalance the Center’s workforce to align with the current NASA Exploration mission, vision, and strategy. Changes in programmatic direction include:

  • Reduced budgetary resources to support computational physics, computation chemistry, information computing grid research, and fundamental computing architecture;
  • Shifting emphasis away from traditional aeronautical research to new information science technologies (such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, integrated systems health management, and robotics) and science initiatives (such as astrobiology and fundamental space biology); and
  • Reduced demand for wind tunnel testing and operations and manufacturing.
  • Immediate plans are to offer 374 buyout/early retirement opportunities in December 2004 – January 2005. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
NASA seeks some spacey ideas
Mother Ship to innerspace sensors ... come in ...
Laurie Anderson's spirit in the sky

Is that nano in your genes ...?

Nanoparticles used to successfully deliver gene therapy (Science Blog)

    A gene therapy method that doesn't rely on potentially toxic viruses as vectors may be growing closer as the result of in vitro research results reported by University at Buffalo scientists in the current online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper, which describes the successful uptake of a fluorescent gene by cells using novel nanoparticles developed as DNA carriers at UB, demonstrates that the nanoparticles ultimately may prove an efficient and desirable alternative vector to viruses.

    Using confocal microscopy and fluorescent spectroscopy, the UB scientists tracked optically in real-time the process known as transfection, including the delivery of genes into cells, the uptake of genes by the nucleus and their expression.

    "We have shown that using photonics, the gene-therapy transfer can be monitored, tracking how the nanoparticle penetrates the cell and releases its DNA in the nucleus," explained Paras N. Prasad, Ph.D., executive director of the UB Institute for Lasers, Photonics and Biophotonics, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemistry in the University at Buffalo's College of Arts and Sciences, and a co-author of the paper. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
Radicals find no freedom from fullerenes
Follow that molecule!
Pint-size pushers

The nano uncertainty principle

Mega fear over something nano
Nanotechnology is happening now, and it has some dangers
(By Gyorgy Scrinis, Globalism Institute, Melbourne)

    If you believe the hype, the nanotechnology revolution will deliver a future of unprecedented material abundance for everyone, limitless energy, ecological sustainability, improved human health and performance, and smarter, cheaper and more efficient materials and products.

    But there is another nanotechnological future that we are beginning to hear more about. This is one of toxic nanoparticle pollution, powerful new military equipment and weapons, ubiquitous surveillance devices, widening global inequities and the further concentration of corporate ownership and control across all industrial sectors.

    ... Given their potentially greater reactivity and toxicity, the release and accumulation of these nanoparticles in the environment also raises concerns for their impacts on other living organisms and ecological processes. The release of nanorobots and nano-engineered organisms in the more distant future may create even more frightful scenarios. I'd suggest we pencil the term "nanopollution" into our ecological lexicons now, and let the full implications of what that means sink in later. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
Swiss miss the mark
Are nanoparticle studies 'one decade late'?
Nano Nostradamus?

Operation Inform Chad

I have great respect for Chad Mirkin, but this interview in BusinessWeek shows how ill-informed even a top nanotech scientist and entrepreneur can be.

    Q: What about hype? Are there areas where investors risk being sold a bill of goods?

    A: Robotics. I'd love to see an article [saying] that nanotech is not about nanobots. There are almost no credible efforts that focus on that goal. There are certainly no credible business efforts. This [topic] is dominated by Hollywood and by some folks that aren't very informed. More here

Professor Mirkin, there are, indeed, credible efforts to focus on that goal. You have simply not read about them because the nanotech PR sheets that cover your work have locked arms with the U.S. government and business communities in pushing those efforts to the margins. That's changing, of course, as the nanotech B2B media model goes down in flames and a wider segment of the public begins demanding understandable information about nanotech of all stripes. (Yes, shameless plug for NanoBot).

However, you're correct in saying that there are no credible business efforts, since those working on true molecular manufacturing (no, not textiles and cosmetics) are doing it despite the lack of short-term ROI.

NanoBot Backgrounder
Just who the hell do I think I am?

Nano is Sizzlin' in Tennessee

'Tech Prep' program subject for Plant Managers' meeting (The Tullahoma News)

    Susan Brown, Tech Prep coordinator for Motlow State Community College, was guest speaker at the monthly association meeting held at Western Sizzlin' Restaurant in Tullahoma. The state has 13 consortia at community colleges to administer the program, and Highland Rim Consortium serves the local area.

    ... The program is presently working on three emerging technologies, Ms. Brown said: nanotechnology, biotechnology, and information technology. Ms. Brown went into detail about nanotechnology. It is defined as the creation of function materials, devices, and systems through control of matter on the nanometer length scale, and the exploitation of novel properties and phenomena developed at that scale.

    To assist in nanotechnology and other fields of research is Cool Springs Life Sciences Center in Franklin. It is a 10-acre, 140,000 square foot research and development campus focused on life sciences. It is planned that it provide space for laboratory research, product development and also have manufacturing facilities for medical devices, biotechnology, pharmaceutical and other life-science-oriented companies and their support services. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
'Strongs to the finichk'
Nano Carolina

Monday, December 27, 2004

Hey, Nano, what are your measurements?

Glimpse Into Tomorrow: Nanotech Metrology (By Alexander E. Braun, Senior Editor -- Semiconductor International)

    The future of nanotech metrology is being shaped in advanced laboratories such as NIST's (Gaithersburg, Md.) Nanoelectronic Device Metrology Project, headed by Curt Richter. The project team is developing metrology to enable new nanotechnologies (such as silicon-based quantum devices, molecular electronics and organic thin-film transistors) to supplement or supplant conventional CMOS devices. Richter makes the point that by "metrology" NIST means measurement as opposed to industry, which views it as online process monitoring. Thus, much of NIST's "metrology" industry would call "analytical characterization," which is what is needed today to meet future device needs.

    NIST aims at developing metrology that will enable emerging information processing technologies to extend electrical performance beyond incremental CMOS scaling. Their approach considers two categories. One is molecular electronics — a bottom-up paradigm for fabrication with some self-assembly playing a role in it — which is different from typical CMOS-directed fabrication. Richter believes that some bottom-up processing will become important, and this will be a process fabrication area requiring metrology.

    The other area is silicon-based nanoelectronics, a CMOS extrapolation, down to quantum dots and quantum wires fabricated from silicon. Here, the focus is on fundamental building blocks — the quantum dot and wire themselves — and how to extract physical dimensions and make test structures for the actual probing of nanocomponents' electrical properties, not just stray structure artifacts. Electrical metrology in test structures is a primary characterization need for these research devices and materials.

    NIST pursues a broad-based approach by anticipating what will have to be measured and what a test platform to probe nanocharacteristics (not artifacts) would look like. Silicon-based nanoelectronics originates from a top-down approach, extending traditional fabrication approaches to the nano level. This requires one set of tools — how to measure an oxide or dielectric thickness on a 3-D object instead of a planar one, or correlating the test of an easily tested 2-D planar area so it directly relates to a 3-D area. For a bottom-up approach, different characterization tools are needed. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
Sleeping nanogiant stirs
From a buzzword to a brick wall
Cave Capitalist Part III: Neanderthal Alliance

My Old Nano Home

UK (University of Kentucky) helps engineering students think small in nanotechnology (Associated Press)

    Some undergraduate students at the University of Kentucky are learning about nanotechnology in a new certificate program.

    Nanotechnology is the manipulation of particles that are as small as one-eighty-thousandth the width of a human hair. It's a field that is already having huge implications in science and engineering.

    "So much research is going on around this field," said Pinar Menguc, a professor of mechanical engineering at UK, "but the concepts required to understand nanotechnology are not taught in the mainstream curriculum." More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
Being Mike Roco
Wanted: NanoEthicist at Penn
Dr. Nano, I presume?
I got Study Hall, PhysEd, Shop, then ... Nanoscience? Whaaaa!?

Dirty diesel done 'nano' cheap?

Cops search Mitsui, PUREarth over filter scam (Daily Yomiuri)

    Metropolitan Police Department officers Monday searched Tokyo-based major trading house Mitsui & Co., which sold below-standard diesel particulate filters (DPFs), and its subsidiary PUREarth Inc., which manufactured the filters, on suspicion of fraud.

    The MPD will analyze confiscated documents from more than 10 locations, including Mitsui's head office, and interview employees to shed light on the fabrication of DPF data to meet Tokyo metropolitan government gas emission restriction standards and determine whether the deception was organized.

    According to the police, former employees of the two companies in charge of DPF production defrauded the Tokyo Transportation Bureau out of about 75 million yen in February 2003 by selling filters for 62 of the metropolitan government's buses.

    In February 2002, the employees fabricated DPF function data and won recognition from the metropolitan government in April the same year for creating a device that met particulate reduction requirements, the police said. Mitsui submitted fabricated data to the metropolitan government in July 2002 and January 2003, the police said.

    ... About 40 police officers entered the main entrance of Mitsui's head office at about 9 a.m. Monday to search the building, focusing on the 17th floor, where the nanotechnology development department, which designed the DPF, is located. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
NanoCommerce: Take it Literally
Nano Snake Oil?
Is this nanotechnology?

Outsourcing can come full circle

Not All Outsourced Jobs Are Lost Forever (Newhouse News Service)

    (Epson Portland President Dave) Graham says Epson and other companies that outsource abroad encounter unexpected costs moving raw materials around. Firms can save money and time, he says, by manufacturing close to markets.

    Global companies make those calculations constantly, says John Mosier, director of worldwide operations for material and logistics at FEI Co. The maker of nanotechnology tools distributes manufacturing among its plants at Hillsboro headquarters and in Massachusetts, Germany, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.

    Tariffs, currency fluctuations, freight charges and other costs can wipe out labor savings abroad, Mosier says. "Those considerations are always in play," he adds. "We look at total delivered cost." More here

Related News
Ultratech Warns on Q4 Outlook (Electronic News)

NanoBot Backgrounder
A nano chicken in every pot

Resistance is nubile


My source within smelling distance of T.H.O.N.G. (Topless Humans Organized for Natural Genetics) informs me that Earth First! Journal is running a piece in the print edition on the group's anti-nanotech nudity at the NanoCommerce conference in Chicago a couple of months ago.

The headline, my source says, is: "Resistance To Nanotech Grows." It begins with: "People around the world are taking notice of the fledgling nanotechnology industry's potential for atom-level control of virtually everything." The last paragraph reads: "Nanotechnology has been billed as the solution to world hunger and disease, but it is no more likley to produce these results than the biotech industry. Hopefully, these recent actions are a harbinger of massive resistance to this new threat to freedom and biodiversity."

In addition, the group has posted some priceless photos of the Thongian action and reaction. Enjoy.

thong   thong2   thong3

NanoBot Backgrounder
Pinhead Angels
'Nano? We don't need no stinking nano'
Wanted: Independent nano watchdog
Nano industry hits bottom

Nano Rocky Mountain high

Zettacore possible nanotech model (By Bob Mook, The Denver Business Journal)

    Investors are betting $23 million ZettaCore Inc. will make it big by thinking small -- and the rest of Colorado's nanotechnology sector hopes to ride along.

    In 2004, the Englewood-based startup raised $17 million in venture capital, moved to a new office and research facility south of the Denver Technology Center, and was recognized by an international forum as a technology pioneer -- all without producing a single product.

    G. Louis Hornyak, chief science officer and founder of the Colorado Nanotechnology Initiative, expects big things from ZettaCore, which employs 33 people -- including engineers and chemists -- in its Inverness office. "They're probably going to become one of the top nanotech companies in the world," he said. Hornyak, an assistant research professor at the University of Denver, said the company is regarded as something of a "poster child" in the emerging nanotechnology sector because of its influential board and the fact it's one of the few nanotechnology companies that's attracted capital from the private sector instead of from government grants. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
Revolutions happen to the unprepared
Initial Perilous Offering
Nano in the 'Pour' House?
Dem Nano

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Feynman's missing pieces

This one comes from my old Detroit News colleague Karl Leif Bates, now a writer for the University of Michigan. Welcome to our little world, Karl.

Molecular Motors
Nature uses tiny nano-machines that could work miracles if we learn how to build them (By Karl Leif Bates, Michigan Today)

    KinesinThe Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman of the California Institute of Technology closed his visionary 1959 talk on the potential of nanotechnology, "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom," by offering a prize to the first person "who makes a motor which can be controlled from the outside and, not counting the lead-in wires, is only a 1/64 th-inch cube." That's half the thickness of a credit card.

    What Feynman didn't realize at the time, and couldn't have known, was that he was already in possession of trillions of devices far smaller and more powerful than he imagined. To utter this challenge and to gesticulate as he spoke, Professor Feynman was relying on the molecular motors and machines that worked within almost every cell throughout his body. Some of them are 20,000 times smaller than the device he imagined and far more efficient than anything our species has ever built.

    Biology has been using these little machines and motors to operate living cells for millions of years: in bacteria that swim by spinning their hairlike propeller; in the little levers that pull our muscle fibers tight; and in even smaller rotary motors on the surface of mammalian cells that turn in response to a single proton of electrical current. So, before Feynman even thought of it, nature had nanotechnology nailed. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
More pieces of Feynman
Driving under the influence of Feynman
The Amazing Montemagno

NanoBot Society Page

Loverich -- Tarantino (Arizona Daily Sun)

    nanoweddingAnn Tarantino, the daughter of Frank and Susan Tarantino of Wellesley, Massachusetts married Jacob Loverich on October 30, 2004. Jacob is the son of Gene and Donna Loverich of Flagstaff.

    ... Ann is a graduate of Brown University and Penn State University and holds a Masters of Fine Arts degree. Jacob is a graduate of Flagstaff High School, NAU, and received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Penn State University in September, 2004.

    The couple is now residing in Kyoto, Japan, where Jacob is pursuing post-doctoral research in the area of nanotechnology. More here

Sleeping nanogiant stirs

2005 China International Conference on Nanoscience and Technology - ChinaNano 2005 (

    China has realized the importance of nanotechnology for future economic development and is responding to global trends.

    In the middle of 1980s, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) initiated support on the development of SPM and other scientific issues at the nanometer scale (1987-1995). The Ministry of Science and Technology of China approved the ‘Climbing up' project and supported nanomaterial science for ten successive years from 1990 to 1999. Over 3,000 researchers contribute to the field.

    In 1999, the Ministry of Science and Technology started a national key basic research project ‘Nanomaterial and Nanostructure', to continually support the basic research on nanomaterials such as nanotubes.

    ... China has planned to spend USD250-300 million within the current five-year plan (2001-2005). More aggressive initiatives are about to launch. The National Center for NanoScience and Technology of China (NCNST) is currently being built near the Peking University , Tsinghua University , and the Chinese Academia of Sciences (CAS) and is expected to finish in 2 years. The government has allocated USD33 million for building this National Research Center.

    (1) Nanoscience and Nanotechnology in China (Li-Jun Wan, Chun-Li Bai) ( Download word file )

    (2) Funding and Networks for Nanotechnology in China (Si-Shen Xie) ( Download pdf file )

    ... We would like to concentrate our resources to hold an international conference on Nanotechnology. The ChinaNANO 2005 ( ) is the world's premier conference of leading scientists in the highly active fields of theory, design and implementation of nanoscience and technology. The conference will focus on nanomaterials and nanostructures, nanodevices and nanofabrications, nanobiotechnology, and nanoscale modeling and computation, nanoscale characterization and measurement technology, novel applications of nanotechnology. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
U.S. to China: Let's share power
From Wilkes-Barre to Wolfe

Friday, December 24, 2004

Radicals find no freedom from fullerenes

What's important to note about the big nanotube/fullerene corporate love match announced this week is what CSixty is bringing to bulk materials supplier Carbon Nanotechnologies Inc. -- some important drug-delivery technology and a partnership with Merck & Co.

Why would Merck would pay attention to little CSixty? It's the company's fullerene antioxidant technology. What that means is this: C60 (aka buckminsterfullerenes, buckyballs or fish killer) is a sponge that mops up free radicals. No, we're not talking about former members of the Weather Underground. Free radicals are molecules with unpaired electrons that try to shack up and play homewrecker with other molecules, causing cellular damage. They're bad boys. Vitamin E is an anti-oxidant. But, buckyballs -- those little rascals -- are 100 to 1,000 times more potent than vitamin E.

CSixty is developing buckyball-based antioxidant drugs for neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease, along with some less-serious applications such as anti-aging creams.

Not a bad little acquisition for a nanotube peddler with the right kinds of patents and partnerships.

Related News
Nano Firms Tie the Knot (Motley Fool)

NanoBot Backgrounder
A little story about drugs, bass and balls
Fish tale retold, but maybe not reinsured
Serious side effects may result from ignoring nano

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Fullerene-based drugs targeted to bone
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The Nano Claus

Scientists offer theories on physics of Santa Claus' flight (By Seth Borenstein, Knight Ridder Newspapers)

    Scientists think they have figured out how Santa Claus does it.

    Employing Einstein's theory of relativity, Santa can zip around the world warping time and space and turning Rudolph's nose a blurry blue.

    Scientists calculate that the jolly old elf may be aided by computer-generated trip-planners, antennas to read children's brain waves and nanotechnology that can make toys from cookies or dirt. More here

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Follow that molecule!

Disease detectives (Weekend Standard)

    dna Circulating in your blood are chemicals that provide vital clues to your future health and well-being. Some molecules signal the arrival of heart disease, others could warn of dementia. A few could be released by a tumour as it plumbs its blood supply into an organ, or begins to spread around the body.

    The problem is that we still don't understand in much detail the identities of the many circulating molecules that can give early warning of disease, decline and decay, and they are extremely difficult to pin down.

    There is one way to amplify molecules to easily detectable amounts. The technique is called PCR, but it is limited to genetic material (DNA or RNA). Now a highly precise way of identifying trace quantities of any kind of molecule has been developed by Professor Chad Mirkin, director of Northwestern's Institute for Nanotechnology in Evanston, Illinois, and colleagues. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
Serious side effects may result from ignoring nano
Cancer detection within spitting distance
I once was blind, but now I see

See Spot's IP

How to spot a dog (Motley Fool)

    The key to distinguishing between a nanofaker and a nanomaker lies in two areas: intellectual property (IP) and partnerships. Companies with a strong IP portfolio are developing a commercial base and demonstrating that their products are built on sound science. But even rabid pack dogs will exude a veneer of top pedigree. In other words, they, too, will have some intellectual property.

    So, do you have to become a patent lawyer in addition to a physicist, a chemist, an engineer and a biologist to find the right nano investments? It would help, but there are easier ways to uncover a dog's pedigree.

    We can examine their mating histories (commercial partners) and how many litters they have produced (actual sales). Dogs with a bogus IP portfolio will fall short in those respects. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
A tale of Fools
Nano and Commerce: Part 2
VC: Don't follow the baloney

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Too hip for my socks

True hipsters include gizmos of 2010 on their wish lists (By Kevin Maney, USA Today)

    The Mach-X ND Razor and Never-Smell Sox. Nanotechnology can give materials astounding new properties. Only a few items — such as Nano-Tex pants that feel like cotton but don't wrinkle — are on the market today. That will change by 2010, says (Stephen) Waite, author of Quantum Investing and adviser to nanotech company NanoDynamics.

    One likely product: a razor, coated with diamondlike nano-materials, that will never get dull or corrode. One blade for the whole of a man's shaving life — a great bar mitzvah gift! Of course, it would probably cost thousands of dollars.

    Another nano-product: socks that feel like cotton but are infused with anti-microbial silver particles. Leave a dirty pair in your locker for six months, and instead of smelling like Exit 13 of the New Jersey Turnpike, they won't smell at all. More here

When nanotubes meet buckyballs ...

Two nanotechnology companies merge (Houston Chronicle)

    Two Houston companies that focus on different areas of nanotechnology have joined forces to better explore a combination of their research.

    Carbon Nanotechnologies, a maker of carbon-based nanotubes, and C Sixty, a nanomedicine company that focuses its efforts on buckyballs, completed a merger Tuesday.

    ... C Sixty's research focuses on using buckyballs, tiny carbon molecules shaped like soccer balls, to deliver medicines in precise amounts to exactly the right location. The research has broad implications for treatments of cancer and Alzheimer's.

    ... Carbon Nanotechnologies, which will operate C Sixty as a wholly owned subsidiary, said the move provides it with a gateway into the medical applications of nanotechnology. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
Here's the plain deal on biomedical nanobots
Ruff on the environment
Nanotube seller says nanotubes probably safe

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

How Stuff Does Not Work

Nanotech Hype or Solid Science (By Geoff Hutchison, it's a puzzle blog)


    Arguably, it’s my current research field—my Ph.D. in chemistry at Northwestern was on electronic materials in general, but one of my advisors and a good chunk of that research group focused on molecular and nanoscale electronic devices. And I’ve read plenty of science fiction, plenty of Eric Drexler’s vision of nanotechnological molecular manufacturing, and of course plenty of science.

    What I find interesting is the distinction between the public perception of “nano” (when there is any) and the hard science research that’s going on. Sometimes the perception is well-informed, and sometimes it’s tremendously overhyped.

    For example, I keep coming across an increasing amount of nanotech hype. For example, see Howstuffworks “How Nanotechnology Will Work” with its movies of “nanogears” supposedly replacing “current manufacturing processes.” It’s straight out of Drexler. I’m sorry. I do not imagine (as the article states) that in “a few decades, we will use these nanomachines to manufacture consumer goods at the molecular level, piecing together one atom or molecule at a time to make baseballs, telephones and cars.” More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
Just who the hell do I think I am?
We all live in a nano submarine
Nanotechnology a 'synthetic haloword'

Life, the Universe and the Theory of Everything

My son and I are watching a fascinating documentary on PBS now. The Elegant Universe, hosted by Brian Greene, does an elegant job of making string theory understandable to a general audience.

UMass to build nanotech training ground

UMass wins $5 million nanotech dev't grant (Boston Business Journal)

    The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative awarded a $5 million grant to the University of Massachusetts Lowell on Monday to create a new research and development facility specialized in nanotechnology.

    ... Pat Larkin, the MTC's director, said Monday's award will be delivered over the next five years. "The extraordinary size of this particular grant is due to the significance of the state's emerging opportunity in nanotechnology," he said.

    UMass will use the funds to develop a Center of Excellence in Nanomanufacturing at its Lowell campus. The center will primarily focus on the commercialization of nanotechnology inventions while also providing a fertile training ground for prospective engineers and researchers, Larkin said. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
Mass. nano marriage
Nano-Economics in Lowell, Mass.
Nano for the Commonwealth

Wanted: NanoEthicist at Penn

The Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania

Short Description
Post-doctoral position in the emerging ethical, social, and/or legal aspects of nanotechnology

Detailed Description
The Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania seeks a candidate for a post-doctoral position in the emerging ethical, social, and/or legal aspects of nanotechnology. Penn's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences was recently awarded an NSEC (Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center) grant, which will fund a broad-based basic-science program in nanotechnology. The position, funded by that grant, will involve an in-depth exploration of the ethical issues that emerge from the NSEC research, as well as a general study of nanotechnology. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
Oh the Humanities!
From Boston to Berkeley, this land is nano land
A Liberal Nano Education

Every Grain of Sand

I'm in my Coffee Beanery office, listening to my iPod to drown out the noises of other customers doing business when Bob Dylan's "Every Grain of Sand" began to talk to me, personally. I'm sure nanotechnology was nowhere near Dylan's mind when he wrote this, yet I see everything through that prism right now, so I see it here. I typed up these lyrics as I heard them, so I might have gotten a few wrong.

I'm busy with a number of writing projects, while also flinging myself into the entrepreneurial world, playing salesman and attempting to impress people who can help me take these crude grains of ideas and build castles. Dylan wrote this during his religious phase, I think, so this song is infused with images of a creator. That might immediately open me up to ridicule among some in the scientific community, but I know Dylan, himself, has spent a career trying to anger his fans by doing the opposite of what is expected of him.

Anyway, this is a blog, and I'm not Walter Cronkite. Enjoy:

In the time of my confession, in the hour of my deepest need
When the pool of tears beneath my feet flood every newborn seed
There's a dying voice within me reaching out somewhere
Toiling in the danger and in the morals of despair

Don't have the inclination to look back on any mistake
like Cain I now behold this chain of events that I must break
In the fury of the moment I can see the master's hand
In every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand

Oh the flowers of indulgence and the weeds of yesteryear
Like criminals they have choked the breath of conscience and good cheer;
The sun beat down upon the steps of time to light the way
To ease the pain of idleness and the memory of decay.

I gaze into the doorway of temptation's angry flame
And every time I pass that way I always hear my name
Then onward in my journey I come to understand
That every hair is numbered like every grain of sand.

I have gone from rags to riches in the sorrow of the night
In the violence of a summer's dream, in the chill of a wintry light,
In the bitter dance of loneliness fading into space,
In the broken mirror of innocence on each forgotten face.

I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea
Sometimes I turn, there's someone there, other times it's only me.
I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand.

Nokia watches kudos for Konarka

Konarka Technologies Inc. should be energized by today's double dose of decent press. The power-plastic company was chosen as a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer and was named to Red Herring's Top 100 Innovators list. Konarka's "photovoltaic nanotechnology" promises to harness light to give your portable devices the long-lasting power you need. Maybe your laptop will stay alive during a flight to Australia.

Mobile phone firms like Nokia, of course, would love a cheap, light strip of plastic to energize their devices, too. Sources tell me that Nokia is leaning heavily on Konarka to supply a solar-powered battery recharger that Nokia wants to market with its phones for the 2005 holiday season.

The recharger will be plastic, and unroll or unfold from a phone carrying case. Just spread it out in the sunlight, and it will recharge the phone battery wherever you are. Will the product be ready? Well, Konarka has attracted a ton of VC money, and with a company like Nokia leaning on it for a product, you can bet that they're not going to waste a lot of time celebrating today's announcements. They've got some work to do.

NanoBot Backgrounder
'Strongs to the finichk'
Swatting Millipedes
U.S. to China: Let's share power
Hello Nano Moto!
Nanomix senses a product in 2005

Frank Lloyd Nano

Building nanoscale structures from RNA (

    Scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara are using assembly and folding principles of natural RNA (ribonucleic acid) to build potentially useful artificial structures at the nanoscale. Potential applications include the development of nanocircuits, medical implants, and improved medical testing.

    Luc Jaeger, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCSB and Arkadiusz Chworos, a post-doctoral fellow studying in Jaeger's lab led this research.

    "In our lab, we see ourselves as nano-architects" said Jaeger. "We are using the lessons that nature teaches us about RNA assembly and folding principles to create nanoscale buildings made of 'smart' molecular 'Lego-like' bricks." This concept, called RNA tectonics, led to the synthesis of RNA grids with finite size and various patterns. Using atomic force microscopy, the UCSB team has been able to visualise some of their assemblies made of square-shaped RNA units that form beautiful patterns and nano-grids.

    One of the aims of Jaeger's group is to address one of the great challenges in supra-molecular chemistry, namely to attain total control of the arrangement of matter at a molecular level. The artificial RNA molecular system is based on 'smart' RNA pieces, which could self-assemble in a predictable manner into any possible two-dimensional architecture with full control over size, shape and pattern geometry, according to the scientists. The final position of each piece can eventually be located within a network lattice of finite size. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
Berkeley to play with tiny tinkertoys
Carlo's just a Copycat

A tale of Fools

The Motley Fool Take: Is Nanophase Ready? (Philadelphia Inquirer)

    For those who believe that nanotechnology is the biggest of all the next big things, the story of Nanophase Technologies (Nasdaq: NANX) should be a cautionary tale.

    Having become the first true nanotechnology public company way back in 1997, it reported rapid growth and promising developments. Sure, there were lots of losses, but that is not unusual for young firms.

    Then sales began to slow, customers began to withdraw from deals, and customers began to report that Nanophase's proprietary nanopowder metal oxides did not mix in their factories as they did in the samples. While Nanophase resolved this problem, a few class-action lawsuits from investors cost the company several million dollars, and growth stalled. Nanophase management took action. More here

Related News: What's the Intelligence on Nanosys? (Motley Fool)

NanoBot Backgrounder
Nanophase's Small Step Back
A Fool to pretend
Fools don't rush in

Monday, December 20, 2004

Parlez-vous nano?

France provides 210 million euro for nanotechnologies (Cordis News)

    France will increase its funding for nanosciences and nanotechnologies from 30 million to 70 million euro over three years, the country's Research Minister, François d'Aubert, has announced.

    Speaking at the launch of France's new National Research Agency, which will officially start operating in January, Mr d'Aubert explained that every effort possible would be made to maintain France's position as a world leader in nanotechnologies.

    'A market of several hundred billion euro will open up to French enterprises by 2010, on condition that we know how to anticipate this technological revolution, prepare the discoveries upstream and transform the trials downstream, by making all the actors in this field work in perfect synergy,' said Mr d'Aubert. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
Sprechen sie nano?
Vive le nanotechnology libre
The Tao of Dow

Sprechen sie nano?

Germany recognised as European leader in nanotechnology (Campus Germany)

    Germany has been recognised as a European leader in nanotechnology.

    Currently, more than half of Europe’s nanotechnology companies are from Germany and of all the patent applications from across the world, German researchers are only beaten by the Americans in terms of quantity.

    “We’ve made huge progress in the past six years,” said Ulrich Kasparick, Parliamentary Secretary of State for Education and Research (BMBF). More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
Memories, like the CMOS of my mind
A bright future ... in Europe
Nanowax Poetic

Nanotech Initiative releases strategic plan

NSET Releases Strategic Plan for National Nanotechnology Initiative (Press Release)

    The Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology (NSET) Subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council's Committee on Technology has released its 2004 Strategic Plan for the Federal R&D program in nanotechnology. This report, which was developed with the support of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office, updates the original strategic plan of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) for the next 5 to 10 years.

    The document contains the vision, goals and plans for specific activities by which the goals will be accomplished by the 22 agencies participating in the NNI. The budget for these activities was about $1 billion in 2004.

    As identified in the Plan, the four main goals of the NNI are to

  • Maintain a world-class research and development program aimed at realizing the full potential of nanotechnology
  • Facilitate transfer of new technologies into products for economic growth, jobs, and other public benefit
  • Develop educational resources, a skilled workforce, and the supporting infrastructure and tools to advance nanotechnology
  • Support responsible development of nanotechnology
  • The updated strategic plan is called for in the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act (Public Law 108-153), which the President signed into law in December 2003. The new strategic plan can be found at

NanoBot Backgrounder
It's about vision, not nanobots
Bucky rage and 'imaginative commentators'
Wanted: Independent nano watchdog

A Nano Passage to India

US expert calls for more joint efforts with Indian scientists
Workshop begins, will identify niche segments, R&D areas, academic and industrial partners (Express News Service)

    THOUGH the United States prefers better ties with Pakistan when it comes to international diplomacy, it’s Indian brains that the Americans praise in the context of science and technology. Eminent scientist Dr Thomas Weber, representing the US-based National Science Foundation (NSF), on Sunday called for further collaboration between Indian and American scientists in the edge cutting research areas of nanoscience.

    Speaking at a three-day Indo-US workshop on ‘Collaborations and Networking in Materials for 2020’ at the National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), Dr Weber acknowledged the contribution of Indian scientists in advanced research.

    ... The workshop will identify niche areas, locate various R&D, academic and industrial partners in both countries who could be active partner in this important initiative.

    Delivering the keynote address on ‘Novel Chemical Routes to Nanomaterials,’ Prof C N R Rao, honorary president, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore corroborated how Indians have continuously contributed in the vital areas of US science and technology.

    Interestingly, he said though there was much talk about nanoscience these days, the first gold nanocrystal was made by Michael Faraday in 1857. Rao also gave a glimpse into the world of nanocrystals. He cited the examples of how gentle chemistry has contributed to the world of nanotubes and nanowires. In the presidential address, Prof V S Ramamurthy, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology (DST), New Delhi listed many undergoing programmes between the two countries. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
India, U.S. to talk nanotech
Nano now with less salt!
Take my spam, please

Sunday, December 19, 2004

The Dark Tower of Babel

Bio-Babel blockades scientific dialogue (By David Ewing Duncan, San Francisco Chronicle)

    Scientists tend to talk to scientists, business people to business people, and activists to activists. Groups meet and invite representatives from other groups to speak, but they are too often treated as foreigners speaking a different language who seem to say hello when they mean goodbye, or they receive a cordial but smug welcome from roomfuls of partisans who oppose their points of view.

    ... The media, my professional world, are among the worst offenders. Typically, we report new discoveries, new prospective cures and new studies on the risks and dangers of, say, a new drug as either gee whiz or apocalyptic. Magazine covers and television news magazine shows proclaim that a new breakthrough is going to cure cancer or make sex better. Or we're all going to die because some mad scientist is about to unleash a Frankenstein nano-probe. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
I once was blind, but now I see
'Societal Concerns' vs. Scientific Accuracy
Nano name-calling
Nano Babel
From the Dark Tower of my memory

Cutting and converging the sciences

This BBC News report appears at first glance to be bad news for science at U.K. universities, but it also seems that some universities understand what technological convergence really means:

    "Others surveyed were introducing or putting more money into combined science courses, like chemistry with nanotechnology , law chemistry and physics with pilot studies." More here
Now, maybe programs like this will get the chemists, physicists, biologists and computer modelers all into one room. Couldn't hurt, anyway.

NanoBot Backgrounder
The children are our nano future
Converging on clean energy
'Nano? We don't need no stinking nano'

Just who the hell do I think I am?

I'm finding it funny that I'm now being called a "Drexlerian" in many nanotech quarters. One critic thought it strange that I "do seem to be flip flopping around from nanobots to nanomaterials," despite the fact that both of those subjects are legitimate areas of debate in our little world.

So, anyway, let me quickly try to clarify a few things before they get out of hand.

I'm a journalist who goes where the interesting stories are. I'm one of the few reporters these days who actually tries to report accurately what Eric Drexler and others who believe in molecular manufacturing believe, rather than what their detractors say they believe. Yet I also turn around and report Foresight Institute criticism, as well.

I have a fairly rounded view of what nanotechnology is to many different people. Remember, I spent three years covering the government's and the business community's definition of "nanotech." In fact, I helped frame that vision in the stories I assigned, edited and wrote.

So, to repeat: I'm not a scientist, I'm a journalist. I can't really be a "Drexlerian" or any kind of "erian," because I'm not qualified. But I'm a pretty damn good journalist who can communicate the conflicting ideas. The fact that I can't be pinned down as a follower of any one school of thought or another actually works to my benefit, and hopefully to the benefit of the subjects I cover.

But because nanotech is such a young "industry," or science or way of thinking, I believe it's my responsibility to take on the additional role as an instigator of debate between the various schools of thought. Everybody might come together to slam me, but at least they're coming together in one spot and challenging each other to defend their positions. So, as your friendly neighborhood nanoconduit, I transmit opinions held by the true experts when it comes to scientific theory.

But, as an experienced reporter, I'm also savvy enough to know when I'm being sold a bunch of PR. So, I should be allowed my opinions on issues of politics and communication.

So, you can tell me that nanotech is one thing, and one thing only -- it's molecular manufacturing a la Drexler -- and I'll report accurately what you believe. That's fine with me. Cool. I can build a coverage around it and create debate.

Or, you can tell me that nanotech, in reality, is doing handstands on the beach while collecting sand with your toes, and I can say, "Yes, Sir" and accurately reflect your opinions.

But, then, of course, after everybody vents their outrage at me over how I could be so naive and stupid as to give those handstand nuts equal time on my site, they'll have to answer to their critics, as well, who say that nanotech is really the design of better catapults for dwarf-tossing ...

The beautiful thing about science and progress is that, eventually, the best ideas win.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Hello Nano Moto!

Nanotechnology Manager at Motorola Inc.

    This individual will drive and implement the vision for nanotechnology in Embedded Systems and Physical Sciences Center of Excellence. Scope of Responsibilities/Expectations Energetic leader with years of experience in physical sciences with emphasis on nanotechnology. This individual will drive and implement the vision for nanotechnology in Embedded Systems and Physical Sciences Center of Excellence. The position requires the ability to manage and lead a team of scientists and engineers in the field of Nanoelectronics, nano energy, and nano materials. The position also requires the ability to form partnerships with universities and labs globally as well as the ability to bring in external funding through these relationships and government funded programs. The individual must exhibit excellent communication and team work capabilities, and needs to be self-directed and motivated. More here
Nanotechnology Engineer at Motorola Inc.
    This individual will help drive the development of nanoscale sensors for chem/bio (C/B) detection in the ESPS CoE as part of its nanotechnology roadmap, working with a team of scientists and engineers focused on various areas of nano science and technology. More here
Update: And here's a listing for a postdoc position in Japan for carbon nanotube research.

NanoBot Backgrounder
Didn't mean to dis The Boss
Get out of your mom's basement and get a job

Nanotube seller says nanotubes probably safe

Nanotubes probably safe, Nobel winner says (

    Will nanotubes be the next asbestos and cause massive health problems? Probably not, says Richard Smalley, the Nobel Prize winner who discovered fullerene carbon, the carbon used in nanotubes. But scientists, health officials and others who work closely with the thin carbon coils will need to demonstrate extreme caution, he says.

    Carbon nanotubes have emerged as a miracle material that could revolutionize a number of industries. Questions about their potential safety are partially related to geometry. The tubes only have a diameter of about a nanometer, or a billionth of a meter. To impact a human cell, they would have to be fairly long, in the micron (millionth of a meter) range, which in turn would make them flexible. Asbestos disturbs cell growth because the fibers are large and rigid.

    "A nanotube is the most rigid rod you will ever make, but in a cell level, it will be like spaghetti," he said during a question-and-answer session at the International Electron Devices Meeting in San Francisco this week. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
NanoLab Inc.'s 'Safety Issues' page
Nanotubes and the tale of the rats
NanoTox a NIOSH priority

Serious side effects may result from ignoring nano

Last weekend in New York, I got into a bit of a verbal contest with a Pfizer representative who listened to my nanotech talk and played the role of a realist. The nanotechnology drug-delivery solutions I outlined were all well and good, but they cost too much to develop into a product. The drug company is fine with a "topical" solution in the context of glaucoma medication.

To my own surprise, I argued with him a bit. Well, who is going to bring these technologies out of the lab and into doctors' offices? The nanotech labs and startups working on the time-release membranes and drug-delivery devices are not going to come to you with a finished product to sell. They don't have the money to do that. That's where companies like Pfizer can come in and help transform the basic technology into a real product.

It's not Pfizer's role to do that, he said.

My voice rose a bit and I said -- probably about as firmly as I dare in front of such an esteemed group -- that the physicians in the room all say that they need a better way to deliver medication to precisely where it's needed in the eye, and to sustain the release longer. There are nanotech researchers who have this kind of enabling technology right now. Not 10 years from now, but right now. Don't you want to place it into the hands of these physicians who could use it? Don't you want targeted drug delivery without side effects? If a company like Pfizer, which has the means to help bring this to market sooner, does not do it, who will?

Later, I was told by physicians and even other Pfizer representatives that this was precisely what everybody in the room needed to hear.

If you're a physician, drug company representative, medical device maker or nanotech researcher, forget about glaucoma. Tie this debate in to your own specialty. Meanwhile, here's just one of many news stories in this cycle regarding some bad press Pfizer is getting over Celebrex. Pay attention to this story. It's not about whether the drugs work. They do. It's about the side effects.

Arthritis Patients React to Celebrex Warning (KCRG-TV News)

    At this point Pfizer is keeping Celebrex on the market. Local pharmacies have not received any instructions to pull the pain-reliever from the shelves.

    Craig Clark of Clark Pharmacy said," We want to make sure that everybody doesn't panic and stop using it. It's a very good drug. We are concerned for the potential heart attack incidence.

    So even though people like Linda are feeling good while taking Celebrex, they now might have to worry about the side-effects on their heart. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
I once was blind, but now I see
Nano and Commerce: Part 2
Pint-size pushers

Related Links
Ophthalmic drug delivery system (U.S. Patent Application)
ubconjunctival Nano- and Microparticles Sustain Retinal Delivery of Budesonide, a Corticosteroid Capable of Inhibiting VEGF Expression (Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology)
New drugs prevent scarring after glaucoma eye surgery (Imperial College London)

Cops' pits now moisture-free!

Stockton store preparing for new sheriff's uniforms (Lodi News-Sentinel)

    bubbaYolanda George, owner of Weber Point Uniforms, will probably have a black new year.

    That's because George is expecting an order from the county sheriff's department for new black uniforms for deputy sheriffs, correctional officers, captains, lieutenants, sergeants and even Sheriff Baxter Dunn himself.

    County law enforcement personnel voted on the new uniforms over the past few months, with the black uniforms winning out over the traditional green and tan.

    ... George said the reason for the price reduction is the fabric blend, which she is new polyester blend that she called nano-dry.

    The nano-dry "whips any moisture from the uniform, especially around the under arms," she said. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
Foresight Day One: My pumpkin and my pants
Where's the NanoBaby line?
Playing hardball with nano pants

Holy Moletronics!

Rapid progress reported in emerging field of molecular electronics (EurekAlert)

    The field of molecular electronics is in excellent health and has a bright future, conclude UCLA and Caltech chemists in the Dec. 17 issue of the journal Science.  Molecular electronic components are already working, and progress toward incorporating molecules as the active components in electronic circuitry has advanced rapidly over the past five years. More here

Friday, December 17, 2004

Dr. Nano, I presume?

Regents approve six new doctoral programs

    MADISON, S.D. - The state Board of Regents added six new doctorate programs Friday, although three are contingent on funding from the Legislature.

    The doctorates requiring new state money are:

  • Nanoscience and nanoengineering at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City.
  • Computational science and statistics to be offered through South Dakota State in Brookings and the University of South Dakota in Vermillion.
  • A combined M.D. and Ph.D. program at USD.
  • In his budget address to state lawmakers, Gov. Mike Rounds has recommended spending almost $1.1 million to help pay for the new programs. Lawmakers will consider his request when they meet for the 2005 session in January. More here

NanoBot Backgrounder
Nano Carolina
The Small Cheese
Gonna send you back to nano schoolin'

U.S. to China: Let's share power

Here's an excerpt from U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham's prepared remarks at Tsinghua University in Beijing:

    As you know, all of the elementary steps of energy conversion take place on the nanoscale.

    Thus, development of new nanoscale materials, as well as the methods to characterize, manipulate, and assemble them, open up incredible possibilities for developing new and revolutionary energy technologies.

    These could include splitting water with sunlight for hydrogen production… developing solid-state lighting at 50 percent of the present power consumption… building super-strong, light-weight materials to improve the efficiency of cars and airplanes… and creating low-cost fuel cells, batteries, thermoelectrics, and ultra-capacitors built from nanostructured materials.

    Nanotechnology also holds great promise for producing better solar energy modules with greater power and lower cost. More here

Nanobot Backgrounder
Philippines to launch NanoPower Revolution
'Strongs to the finichk'
Buying Power
From Wilkes-Barre to Wolfe