Foresight Update 38

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A publication of the Foresight Institute

Foresight Update 38 - Table of Contents | Page1 | Page2 | Page3 | Page4 | Page5


Review In Brief:

book cover

The Atom in the History of Human Thought
By Bernard Pullman
New York: Oxford University Press (1998).

Reviewed by Richard P. Terra

This is a cogent and very readable account of the 2,500-year history of the concept of atoms as, for all practical purposes, the ultimate essence of physical reality, indivisible and eternal. The author was professor of Quantum Chemistry at the Sorbonne in France and Director of the Institut de Biologie Physio-Chemique (he died in 1996).

Pullman surveys the origin and development of atomic concepts from classical antiquity in ancient Greece and Rome, touches on the influences of Hindu and Arab scientific concepts, the conflict between atomists and Christian authorities during the middle ages, through the transformation of alchemy into the science of chemistry, to the gradual acceptance and final verification of the atomic theory during the Enlightenment and early Industrial Era.

All in all, The Atom in the History of Human Thought provides a fascinating account of the development of the intellectual foundations of modern physical chemistry, one of the essential underpinnings for developing molecular nanotechnology.

Foresight Update 38 - Table of Contents


Upcoming Events

Seventh Foresight Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology, October 15-17, 1999 at the Westin Hotel in Santa Clara, CA. An intensive Tutorial on Foundations of Nanotechnology will be held on October 14. Enabling science and technology, computational models. Contact Foresight, tel 650-917-1122, fax 650-917-1123, email,

American Vacuum Society 46th International Symposium, October 25 - 29, 1999 at Washington State Convention Center, Seattle, Washington. Includes nanometer-scale science and technology, emerging opportunities and issues in nanotubes and nanoelectronics, the science of micro-electro-mechanical systems, and organic electronic materials. Additional information:

The Surgery Room of the 21st Century, November 1-2, 1999, The Moat House Hotel, Glasgow. Sponsored by the Institute of Nanotechnology. The theme of the conference is taken from the Royal Academy of Engineering's publication: 'Medical Engineering - A Field With Potential'. Contact: Further information:

The Diagnostic Centre of the 21st Century, November 3-4, 1999, The Moat House Hotel, Glasgow. Sponsored by the Institute of Nanotechnology. The theme of the conference is taken from the Royal Academy of Engineering's publication: 'Medical Engineering - A Field With Potential'. Contact: Further information:

IBC's 6th Annual Biochip Technologies Conference Presents Chips to Hits '99, Harnessing the Power of Microtechnology, November 2-5, 1999, The Claremont Resort & Spa, Berkeley, CA. "The Pharmaceutical and Biotech Industry's Leading Forum on Microarray and Microfluidic Technologies" Telephone: (508) 481-6400; Fax: (508) 481-7911; Email:; Web:

Technology and Society 1999: The Evolution of the New Economy — Annual Cato Institute/Forbes ASAP Conference, November 4 - 5, 1999, Crowne Plaza San Jose/Silicon Valley, 777 Bellew Drive, Milpitas, California. "From finance and communications to biology and law, advances in technology are transforming our world. ... The challenge for citizens in the 21st century will be mastering dynamic change in free and diverse markets." Includes a session on "The Science of the Small: Nanotech and Molecular Switches" with Stan Williams, Principal Laboratory Scientist, Hewlett-Packard, and James Von Ehr, CEO, Zyvex. Contact Conference Department, Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001, (202) 218-4633, (202) 371-0841 (fax), or Web:

Evolution: The 1999 Beckman Symposium Dedicated to Susumu Ohno, Saturday November 6, 1999, 8:00 a.m. -6:00 p.m. Platt Conference Center Beckman Research Institute, City of Hope, 1450 E. Duarte Rd., Duarte, California, 91010. Talks range from biological evolution to digital evolution. For further information regarding the Symposium, or to request registration materials: Sharyn Webb, Event Coordinator, Phone: (626) 256-8735; email: Web:

IECON '99, the 25th annual conference of the IEEE Industrial Electronics Society, November 29th - December 3rd, 1999, Fairmont Hotel, San Jose, CA, USA. This year's IECON focuses on integration of factory automation, power electronics, robotics, signal processing with information technology to form a seamless, integrated, networked enterprise environment - the Totally Networked Industry Environment. Papers are also being solicited in the areas of emerging technologies, factory automation, power electronics, mechatronics, and signal processing and control. Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems and a co-inventor of Jini, will be the keynote speaker. Web:

Cambridge Healthtech Institute's 2nd Biannual Bioengineering of Nanostructures for Biomedical and Biotechnical Applications (formerly Titled Microsystems Technology), December 1-3, 1999, Omni Parker House Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts. Session topics include: microscale manipulation, DNA nanotechnology, viral hijacking, emerging biomaterials, microfabrication in tissue engineering, neural microengineering, drug delivery, diagnostics/biosensors. Contact: Mary Ann Brown, Conference Director, Cambridge Healthtech Institute, Fax: 617-630-1325, e-mail: Web:

Biophysical Society 44th Annual Meeting, February 12-16, 2000, New Orleans, Louisiana. Abstract deadline: October 3, 1999. Includes workshop on "Single molecule experiments: revealing the role of protein fluctuations", and synmposia on "Molecular motors: design and performance" and "Protein folding: an urgent problem in the postgenomic era." Contact: Biophysical Society 9650 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20814. Phone: 301-530-7114; Fax: 301-530-7133 E-mail: Web:

MSM 2000, the Third International Conference on Modeling and Simulation of Microsystems, March 27-29, 2000, US Grant hotel, San Diego, California, U.S.A. An interdisciplinary integrative forum on modeling, simulation and scientific computing in the microelectronic, semiconductor, sensors, materials and biotechnology fields. Contact: MSM 2000, 4847 Hopyard Road Suite 4-381, Pleasanton, CA 94588. PH: (925) 847 9152; FAX:(925) 847 9153. E-mail: Web:

The Fourth Alcor Conference on Life Extension Technologies, June 17-18, 2000, Asilomar Conference Grounds near Carmel, California, just 15 minutes from the Monterey Peninsula Airport. This conference will cover topics relevant to the expansion of human health and longevity, drawing from such fields as: biological and medical technologies, nanotechnology and nanomedicine, artificial intelligence, psychiatric aspects, defining death, and the insights of authors and artists. Foresight Chairman Dr. K. Eric Drexler and Foresight Advisor Dr. Ralph C. Merkle will talk. Web:

Foresight Update 38 - Table of Contents | Page1 | Page2 | Page3 | Page4 | Page5

From Foresight Update 38, originally published 30 September 1999.