Foresight Update 14

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A publication of the Foresight Institute

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Foresight Online

The Foresight Institute has an online address: CompuServe users can reach us by sending mail addressed to: >

There is also an electronic discussion group on nanotechnology called sci.nanotech on the USENET computer network; we have been told it has 24,000 readers. It can be reached by members of the general public who subscribe to a commercial service such as Portal, the service we use. Portal can be reached by calling 408-973-9111, or sign on automatically by having your modem dial 415-725-0561. Another service, the WELL, also carries sci.nanotech; they can be reached at 415-332-4335 (voice) or 415-332-6106 (data). Both Portal and the WELL are based in the San Francisco Bay Area but are accessible to those outside the area. If similar services exist in your local calling area, it may be less expensive to use them instead of the services described here.

We can also be reached by sending mail on the American Information Exchange to Foresight, with a forwarded copy to ChrisPeterson.

Other Foresight organizations can be reached as follows: Institute for Molecular Manufacturing at; Center for Constitutional Issues in Technology at

We look forward to hearing from you online.

[Editor's note: The above contact information is largely out of date. Instead use:
Foresight Institute:
Institute for Molecular Manufacturing:]

Foresight Update 14 - Table of Contents


Molecular Manufacturing Shortcut Group

At the recent International Space Development Conference, hosted by the National Space Society, Tom McKendree was elected president of the Molecular Manufacturing Shortcut Group. This NSS chapter focuses on nanotechnology and molecular manufacturing as the leading technology enabling space development, access to space resources, and the development of human communities in space. For more information on the group, please write to NSS Molecular Manufacturing Shortcut Group, c/o Tom McKendree, 12171 Amethyst Circle, Garden Grove, CA 92645.

[Editor's note: The current mailing address is: Molecular Manufacturing Shortcut Group, 8381 Castilian Drive, Huntington Beach, CA 92646.]

Foresight Update 14 - Table of Contents


New Faces at IMM

Neil Jacobstein, Vice President and General Manager of the Knowledge Systems Division of Cimflex Teknowledge Corporation, has joined the Board of Directors of the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing. Mr. Jacobstein brings extensive experience in the industrial research community, particularly in advanced manufacturing. He has managed and participated in the development of knowledge system technology projects sponsored by a wide range of corporate and government clients, including the National Science Foundation, GM, Ford, Motorola, FMC, NCR, Procter and Gamble, DARPA, and the U.S. Air Force.

He also has a background in studies related to the environment which, combined with his manufacturing and software experience, is expected to assist IMM in its efforts to further research in environmentally-benign molecular manufacturing and nanotechnology. His addition strengthens both the expertise and vision of the Board.

Also new at IMM is Executive Director Kathleen Shatter, whose predecessor Lynne Stiegler, née Morrill, left to pursue an advanced degree. Ms. Shatter brings experience in nonprofit funding development and event organization. She is also familiar with the nanotechnology-oriented business community from her work on the Second Foresight Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology, for which she secured substantial corporate sponsorship. In addition to her duties at IMM, she will be assisting Foresight with conferences and fundraising development.

Information can be obtained by writing to IMM at 555 Bryant Street, Suite 253, Palo Alto, California, 94301; by calling 415-852-1244; by sending a fax to 415-852-9098; or by sending email to

[Editor's note: The above phone numbers and email address are out of date. Instead use:
tel. 415-917-1120; fax. 415-917-1123; email:]

Foresight Update 14 - Table of Contents


Books of Note

Charles Babbage and his Calculating Engines. Doron Swade, 1991, Science Museum, London, 48 pages, softcover, £3.50.

An engrossing exposition of early efforts to build mechanical computers: how Babbage came so close to succeeding and why he failed. Explores the difficulties of exploratory engineering. Heavily illustrated. [Editor's note: one of Babbage's machines was recently built and shown to work as designed, with the technology then available.]

The Molecular Design of Life. Lubert Stryer, 1989, W. H. Freeman and Company, New York, 215 pages, hardcover, $14.95.

This superbly illustrated book provides an excellent overview, in molecular terms, of biochemistry, recombinant DNA, proteins, and the intriguing interactions among these as a foundation for those systems that are regarded as "living." The book's emphasis on visual explanations and informative sidebars make the content accessible to a wide range of readers without requiring specialized knowledge of biochemistry.

Stryer covers the basics of protein structure and function, explains DNA and RNA as information molecules yielding heredity, and then provides a clearly understandable description of genes and enzymes, and the roles of these key structures in molecular systems.

Overall, this work is meant for the interested layperson, but the technical reader will find sufficient tabular data, explanatory images, and concise descriptions as well.

The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. Peter M. Senge, 1990, Doubleday Currency, New York, 424 pages, hardcover, $19.95.

Senge presents a book that is both descriptive of American business organizations and prescriptive for successful leadership within them. The book's central focus is on organizational aspects that either enable or inhibit learning for the individual and, more important, the organization as a whole. He advocates that leaders learn that they are not, in an organizational sense, prisoners of the system but instead are prisoners of their own thinking and expectations.

This book invites the reader to adopt a perspective of what sociologists term "the social construction of reality," in which individuals and departments operating in an organizational context learn to identify the patterns of behavior that control human events. Given this knowledge, leadership becomes an activity of creating shared visions, team learning, and the communication of effective mental models.

Senge's work is clearly written and presents many engaging examples without becoming ponderous as a case-history tome. This book should be required reading for everyone in a position of managerial responsibility or who has any interest in organizations. It provides all readers with keen insight in their own situations and how to improve the organizations in which they work, play, and participate, as well as "learning how to learn" in an organizational context. Highly recommended.

Foresight Update 14 - Table of Contents


Upcoming Book: Nanosystems

This fall Wiley Interscience will publish the first technical book on molecular nanotechnology, entitled Nanosystems: Molecular Machines, Manufacturing and Computation by K. Eric Drexler. While the book is written for the graduate or advanced undergraduate level, and assumes substantial knowledge of physics and math, the interested lay reader will be able to learn from many of the approximately 200 illustrations.

The book will be published simultaneously in both hardcover and softcover editions. The softcover edition is likely to be priced under $25, affordable even for student readers. Currently the official publication date is set for October, although Wiley hopes to have copies available one or two months earlier.

Readers will be taken from the basic principles governing nanoscale phenomena, through macroscale nanoengineered systems, research pathways, and development timescale considerations. Nanosystems can serve as a nanotechnology textbook for students in a wide variety disciplines as well as an introduction and working tool for professionals who are already in or would like to be in the field.

Topics include: molecular mechanics, molecular dynamics, potential energy surfaces, positional uncertainty, thermomechanical damage, radiation damage, energy dissipation, mechanosynthesis, forcible mechanochemical processes, structural components, bearings, gears, motors, computational systems, assembly, and implementation strategies.

The author wishes to acknowledge support from the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing during the research and writing phases of Nanosystems.

[Editor's note: For more information, including a detailed Table of Contents, see To order a copy of the book from Foresight, use the book order form.]

Foresight Update 14 - Table of Contents


JBIS on Nanotechnology

In honor of its 60th anniversary, the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society is dedicating the opening issue of its Celebration Series to the topic "Nanotechnology in Space." JBIS is known for publishing exploratory engineering work on space development and exploration.

The issue is scheduled for October 1992 and will be edited by Salvatore Santoli. Dr. Santoli reports that he plans to interpret the term nanotechnology as Foresight does, i.e. molecular nanotechnology, or thorough control of the structure of matter.

Foresight Update 14 - Table of Contents


Foresight Awarded Autodesk Grants

Autodesk, Inc., of Sausalito, California, has awarded an educational grant to Foresight Institute that includes three of its leading software products: the newly released HyperChem, Animator Pro and 3D Studio. Foresight will use the Autodesk software to develop visualizations of nanomechanical devices using HyperChem and create visualizations of nanotechnology and molecular manufacturing using Animator Pro and 3D Studio. We appreciate Autodesk's award and their continuing support of pathways leading to nanotechnology as represented by software for designing molecular manufacturing devices. Thank you, Autodesk.

Foresight Update 14 - Table of Contents


Thank You

Foresight would like to express our appreciation to many individuals not mentioned elsewhere in this issue. Special thanks to Ron Edquist for his regular online searches, to Ted Kaehler for financial assistance for the July 11 regional meeting, to Carol Shaw for ongoing bookkeeping help, to Russ Mills for his Update column and layout work, to Ed Niehaus for press relations assistance, and to Gayle Pergamit for human resource advice. Thanks to Bob Schumaker and Jeff Crilly for help with sending to large email lists. Thanks to Glenn Reynolds, Scott Pace, Margaret Jordan, Tim Kyger, and Danica Remy for help with Eric Drexler's Senate testimony. Thanks to Joy Martin for her presentation on nanotechnology. Thanks to the following for sending articles: Jon Alexandr, Joe Bonaventura, Marshall Burns, John J. Closner, William Drake, Donald Fears, Tim Freeman, W.C. Gaines, John Gilmore, Roger Gregory, Graham Houston, Jeffrey Liss, Ralph Merkle, John Primiani, Edward Rietman, Bill Schertz, A. Tsoularis.

Finally, special thanks from the Foresight Board go (as always) to our Executive Director, Jamie Dinkelacker, and (the first time) to our new Project Manager, Jane Nikkel.

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From Foresight Update 14, originally published 15 July 1992.

Foresight thanks Dave Kilbridge for converting Update 14 to html for this web page.