Wednesday, December 07, 2005

self healing paint job

Scratches no match for Nissan's new car paint

This is pretty cool, even though it is just the paint job on a car. Think how much money this can save the consumer though!

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Cloned food

Poll: People reluctant to buy cloned food

This just seems silly to me, how much difference could it make being cloned or not? With the possible exception that it might somehow cause something like a prion disease. If it's meat, you're cooking it anyway, denaturing almost every protein and enzyme that would be in it. Plant material is less worrisome anyway, I don't think there is a disease that we can catch from plants (maybe caused by them, but not catch from them)

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Tissue engineering

Engineered Blood Vessels for Dialysis

This bodes well for people that have failing organs, once the results of this are proven, and combined with organ printing will provide you with replacments that won't force you to compromise your immune system. Only thing left will be the brain.

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New microscope allows scientists to track a functioning protein with atomic-level precision

New microscope allows scientists to track a functioning protein with atomic-level precision

This has allowed the researchers to watch RNAP to travel up the DNA strand and for the first time see exactly how transcription works. This currently has potential to affect the field of proteomics and protein folding study, and who knows what else down the line can be found for it.

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

Plastic computer chips

Plastic Diode Could Lead To Flexible, Low Power Computer Circuits, Memory

This could lead to some interesting things, I don't think the developers give their results enough credit. I think this could lead to ubiquitous computing, with truly personal computers, woven into our clothes, and even more of the products we use daily.

Space -- Former X Prize Rivals Announce Partnership

This could lead to very good things, if they can get some contracts going, this would speed the commercialization of space, they would also give some competition to SpaceX, both which would be a very good thing.

Synthetic muscle

New Scientist Breaking News - Light could trigger super-fast synthetic muscles

Synthetic muscle based on the current polymers could be 100000 times faster than they currently are, if we used a different way of triggering them. Researchers suggest that the technical challenges put this a decade or more away, but that's probably based on linear thinking, so I'd say 5 maybe on this one.

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Fusion power

Focus Fusion Reactor - a Plasma Focus Device plus Hydrogen-Boron Fuel

This promises to be a great thing if it ends with success. It would eventually eliminate our dependance on fossil fuels, once our infrastructure converted over. This could also give a push to the hydrogen car movement, with these generators to split the water, you wouldn't be dependant on fossil fuels for that.

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Google Print

Vast cyberlibrary unveiled by Google (Update)

This has the possibilty of becoming something like a modern day , if only people would give it a chance. I don't see the problem with the way Google is implementing this. If you're not going to have an issue with a public library allowing people to borrow books, why would you have an issue with this? I see this as yet another symptom of the litigious society that we have become.

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Solar Tower and Space Elevator

The Speculist: The Solar Tower and the Space Elevator

This looks like there could be some good synergy between these two projects, but like one of the comments said, you couldn't locate the space elevator in Australia, that has to be located at the equator.

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Light chips

New Scientist Silicon chip works on the speed of light - Breaking News

Seems like it was just two weeks ago when the possiblity of computers made of light was brought up. Oh wait, it was. IBM has made a prototype switching chip using photon waveguides which can slow down light, with the idea that such a device could synchronise data streams by slowing some streams, allowing others to catch up. However heating the waveguides takes a long time compared with the switching speed needed in an optical network. And the waveguides have to be carved with an accuracy of 1 nanometre.

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Friday, November 04, 2005


Biotechnology, which is known primarily by its medical and agricultural applications, is increasingly being focused on the building of new biological materials and machines in an astonishing diversity of structures, functions, and uses. The advent of nanotechnology has accelerated this trend.

And it is information technology that is pulling all this together. Information technology has been the catalyst behind the convergance off these technologies, allowing much greater collaboration, search, information dispersal, and far easier research.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

1918 Flu virus again

WorldChanging: Another World Is Here: Safety in Knowledge
Someone who supports my earlier position on the publication of the 1918 flu virus genome


Reason: NanoBioEthics: Advancing past the "carbon barrier"
as much damage as future nanotech devices might cause, it’s nothing
compared to the damage that bad policies or overly cautious ethical
fatwas can make. Is humanity ready to break the carbon barrier? We’re about as ready as we’ll ever be.

I would normally agree with Ronald Bailey on this one, waiting for ethical policies and regulation are the road to stagnation, just look at what the FDA has done to the drug industry. In this scenario I think we have to be careful though, this has an importance that is even higher than the nuclear dilemma we faced a couple of generations ago, as it could become more destructive, or more beneficial.

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Stronger Than Steel, Harder Than Diamonds: Researcher Developing Numerous Uses For Extraordinary 'Buckypaper'

This material has an incredible range of applications, from military armor to computer displays. They didn't say in the article if the single layer paper was flexible, but if so this could also be used as electronic paper. It could also take care of two applications at once, acting as both armor and .

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Electronic paper

World's First 10.1" Flexible Electronic Paper Display

This looks promising, now we can do away with print newspapers, books, magazines, etc. This could also have some interesting military applications, can you say active camouflage, I knew you could.

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Hydrogen biofuel cell

Outlook bright for hydrogen biofuel cell

As an alternative to the car that makes it's own fuel, we have this little number that uses an enzyme as catalyst instead of precious metals. Seems we are going to get to the hydrogen economy one way or another.

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Richard Smalley

Responsible Nanotechnology: Richard Smalley: 1943-2005

We will all miss the passing of this great man in nanotech, despite the fact that he didn't believe in the possibility of molecular machines as Eric Drexler envisions them, his views did stimulate the discussion and get some press. Here is a link to the famous Smalley vs. Drexler counterpoint debate:

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Saturday, October 29, 2005

1918 Flu genome

Recipe for Destruction

I have to take issue with Kurzweil on this one, as a computer security person, I dislike the thought of "security through obscurity". While this can be a tool to keep information from bad people, you can't rely on it to do so, and IMO publishing this will allow more good scientists to be able to work on a cure or vaccine, so I think publishing the information does more good than harm in this case. With something like an atom bomb (a reference Ray uses to support his argument for not publishing this kind of data) there isn't much you can do to defend against the bomb by knowing how to build it, that is not the case with a virus.

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Liquidmetal: Redefining metals for the 21st century
Not quite T2, but still cool:

[Vitreloy] showed
massive strength: a one inch wide bar could lift 300,000 pounds,
compared to a titanium bar of the same size that could only lift
175,000 pounds. Although this material had super strength, it lacked
the attributes that make metals tough. Vitreloy, was more robust than
window pane glass, but still cracked.

Paul Kim improved Vitreloy's
toughness while giving it the flexibility to allow it to be made into
many different shapes. Now, the new line of Liquidmetal alloys is on
the rise.

This has been available for over 2 years and isn't everywhere? I'd think this would be great for manufacturing just about anything that was made out of metal, but maybe it's just starting, or people are looking to carbon nanotubes

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Predicting the future

Responsible Nanotechnology: Predicting Changes by 2040

Some interesting predictions on what won't be around in 35 years:

  1. John Browne: Auto Emissions {S}

  2. Craig Mundie: Doctors' Offices {S}
  3. Peter Schwartz: The War on Drugs
  4. Esther Dyson: Anonymity {R}
  5. Felipe Fernández-Armesto: The King of England {S}
  6. Peter Singer: The Sanctity of Life
  7. Jacques Attali: Monogamy
  8. Minxin Pei: The Chinese Communist Party {R}
  9. Julie L. Gerberding: Polio {S}
  10. Lawrence Lessig : The Public Domain
  11. Richard N. Haass: Sovereignty {S}
  12. Harvey Cox: Religious Hierarchy {S}
  13. Shintaro Ishihara: Japanese Passivity {R}
  14. Christopher Hitchens: The Euro
  15. Fernando Henrique Cardoso: Political Parties {S}
  16. Lee Kuan Yew: Laissez-Faire Procreation {S}
Those answers followed by {S} are available to Foreign Policy subscribers only. Those marked with {R} require free registration. The rest can be accessed without registering or subscribing.

Here's my take

  1. John Browne: Auto Emissions {S} - not at stretch here, this will probably come true, although we may have "emissions" that are quite different than what we now have.

  2. Craig Mundie: Doctors' Offices {S} - I doubt this one, I think doctors are going to always want to be able to see the patient, we may go back to more house calls IMO
  3. Peter Schwartz: The War on Drugs God I hope this one comes true, the "war" on drugs has been one of the biggest wastes of money ever
  4. Esther Dyson: Anonymity {R} - probably true as well, you may be able to get some for limited applications, like browsing the internet or something.
  5. Felipe Fernández-Armesto: The King of England {S} - who cares?
  6. Peter Singer: The Sanctity of Life - This one is something of a cop-out on a prediction IMO, Singer takes the stance that the "hard-core" view of what life is will change, it will be the concept of an individual, not of life itself, that will have sanctity. He presumes that since we are re-defining when the life of an individual starts and ends (i.e. through the use of embryonic stem cells, and the Terry Schiavo case).
  7. Jacques Attali: Monogamy highly doubtful, lots of people have been predicting this one for a long time. The only way this will change is through the evolution of the species, not going to happen in a generation.
  8. Minxin Pei: The Chinese Communist Party {R} - another one I desperately hope is true, but I have my doubts
  9. Julie L. Gerberding: Polio {S} - Entirely possible
  10. Lawrence Lessig : The Public Domain doubt it, the concept of group ownership seems to be going up, not down, look at the GPL and it's derivatives
  11. Richard N. Haass: Sovereignty {S} - no, the US will never give this up.
  12. Harvey Cox: Religious Hierarchy {S} - it's lasted 2000 years, why would it go away in the next 35?
  13. Shintaro Ishihara: Japanese Passivity {R} - reading the article, this is entirely plausible, but depends a lot on what happens politically in the region, that part is much harder to forsee.
  14. Christopher Hitchens: The Euro - did we care when it was created? will we care if it goes away?
  15. Fernando Henrique Cardoso: Political Parties {S} - nope, that's how our government works
  16. Lee Kuan Yew: Laissez-Faire Procreation {S} - doubt it, there will always be those of us that are irresponsible.

Friday, October 28, 2005

top down nanotech

Responsible Nanotechnology: Accelerating Technology
A good article from the folks at CRN on how quickly the two methods for making nanoscale machines are converging. I think once the two are combined, we will very quickly after that see the first self replicating nanofactories, and the revolution of the Singularity will have begun.

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Space Elevator

New Scientist SPACE - Breaking News - Space elevators stuck on the first floor
Well, they may not have gotten far, but at least this is generating publicity. When someone actually wins, we'll see a lot more progress, and hopefully soon a working one.

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Towards molecular machines

Proofreading And Error-correction In Nanomaterials Inspired By Nature
More steps in the molecular machine direction. This process would keep incorrectly formed base nano-particles out of the assembly of complex nano-machines, so we don't have to compensate as much in the design of the machines to allow for error.

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Alternative fuel

The car that makes its own fuel
This could be big, evidently there isn't much that would have to be changed in the manufacturing of the cars, the main change is substituting a fuel coil for the gas tank. The biggest investment would be converting the infrastructure over from gas stations to coil exchanges.

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Spintronic transistor is developed

This has promising potential. Spintronics are also being looked at for RAM which doesn't lose it's state when the power is turned off. They can also be smaller as you don't have the problem of leakage you get with normal RAM.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Future Economics

An interesting article/review on Tech Central Station discussing Ray Kurzweil's book . Arnold Kling discusses the implicit economic implications of Kurzweils predictions in the book. If Kurzweil is right, we have some good times to look forward to, both technologically and economically.

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Saturday, October 15, 2005


In addition to the medical benefits, this thing would just look cool. Now imagine extending it to about 3 - 4 feet, and you have what would look like a lightsabre!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Nanobombs for cancer

Scientists develop

"[Panchapakesan] believes the nanobomb holds great promise as a therapeutic agent for killing cancer cells, with particular emphasis on breast cancer cells, because its shockwave kills the cancerous cells as well as the biological pathways that carry instructions to generate additional cancerous cells and the small veins that nourish the diseased cells. Also, it can be spread over a wide area to create structural damage to the cancer cells that are close by."

This is the kind of wonderful things we should expect to see in the future from the intersection of biotechnology and nanotechnology.   As the biotechnology industry adds to their knowledge base of how the human body works, and the nanotechnology industry develops greater capabilities of creating , these two fields together have the potential to be a great boon to all mankind, with the potential to cure all diseases.  Of course there is also the possibility of their misuse, which could cause greater destruction than any nuclear war ever could.  Just imagine dispersing a cloud of this over a city, then activating them.  This is probably the most crude and least destructive thing that you can do with nanotechnology.

Get a job in nanotechnology

Monster has an article about in .
Websites which specialize in nanotechnology jobs include Working in Nanotechnology and Tiny Tech Jobs.

Kinematic Self-Replicating Machines book now free online


Molecules of light

This could lead to some very interesting development, how about a based on light?  The technology appears to be converging on that possibility from a couple of different directions, light based switching, storing and altering the data in light, slowing the speed of light to a crawl, and now encoding more than just "on" or "off" in "molecules" of light.

Is hydrogen a viable fuel alternative?

Even if hydrogen can be used as a viable to gasoline, with the kind of funding we're giving it, we'd never know!  300k to study what could quickly become a major world issue is patently ridiculous.  We spend more money than that studying ketchup.


Looks like we still haven't learned much from the past 50 years of automobile manufacturing, and how the Japanese kicked our ass with QC controls and mass manufacturing.  You would think that we would learn that doing something repetitively leads to doing it better, and with fewer mistakes.  Limiting our launches to as few as possible to get something done would seem to be the exact opposite of what we should be doing in order to get affordable kick-started.
Small reusable vehicles can revolution access to space the way microcomputers revolutionized access to computing. NASA can help enable a vibrant future where thousands of people travel into space every year -- or it can cling to the super-boosters and mega-modules of the "mainframe" era, in which case the NASA manned space program will continue its slow downward spiral.
An even better idea would be to get a constructed as quickly as possible.  This would both reduce the cost of getting mass up into orbit by orders of magnitude over current methods, and over small RLV's as well, but would also eliminate the risk of the rocket exploding under you a la Challenger and Columbia (I wouldn't take a ride in one that's name started with a C either).  Once we are able to construct the ribbons with the necessary tensile strength, which may already be possible, the rest is cake, and all we have is a long elevator ride to get into orbit.  It is this event that will push mankind into space more than anything that NASA is currently working on.  From there we just need to develop ways of getting around the solar system a bit faster.

some neural network links

Here are some neural network links

Neural Network Usenet basic information