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Foresight Update 39

page 5

A publication of the Foresight Institute

Foresight Update 39 - Table of Contents | Page1 | Page2 | Page3 | Page4 | Page5


Web Watch.39

by Jim Lewis

Jim Lewis

An Open Source program (GNU licensing) to develop a software platform for simulating complex systems is being developed at the Santa Fe Institute. Although not specifically focused on nanotechnology, such simulation software may be of use in modelling molecular machine systems. "Swarm is a multi-agent software platform for the simulation of complex adaptive systems. In the Swarm system the basic unit of simulation is the swarm, a collection of agents executing a schedule of actions." Inspired by swarm intelligence in social insects, this platform is expected to provide the basis for robust simulation of complex systems. "In order for computer modeling to mature there is a need for a standardized set of well-engineered software tools usable on a wide variety of systems." The Swarm Development Group is in the process of migrating to a new Web site at, but as of this writing (Dec. 1, 1999) the new domain is not yet available. A book about Swarm Intelligence is also available:

Two items at the American Institute of Physics Web site that date from 1997, but are worth looking at:


    A report on the "rudimentary atom laser" created by researchers at MIT. The page provides a good introduction to the significance of the achievement, and includes a brief consideration of the application to nanotechnology: "Finally, the atom laser holds exciting possibilities for nanotechnology, the manipulation of matter at the atomic level. With an atom laser beam, it would be possible to deposit atoms onto surfaces with unprecedented precision, potentially allowing scientists to create more sophisticated nanostructures than ever before. Ketterle points out, however, that these first atom lasers will only be able to make nanostructures at a very slow rate. According to Ketterle, the fluxes of atoms emerging from an atom laser are currently too small to lead to a practical nanofabrication scheme in which nanostructures could be mass produced. And he notes that the atom laser must operate in extreme vacuum conditions, unlike ordinary lasers whose light can be used in all types of environments. Nonetheless, the atom laser has the potential to become a tool with unexpected and widespread consequences."

    Eight animations from work published in "Molecular dynamics simulations of carbon nanotube-based gears," Jie Han, Al Globus, Richard Jaffe and Glenn Deardorff, 1997, Nanotechnology 8: 95-102.

The Web site for the nanoManipulator project at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been extensively updated. The project couples a scanning probe microscope to a virtual reality interface. The content of the site ranges from demos for high school students, to a collection of images and movies of manipulating virus particles and carbon nanotubes, to links to related sites.

Another virtual reality interface to the nanoscale world. The Virtual Mechanosynthesis (VMS) utility developed by researchers in the NAS data analysis group at NASA Ames allows "users to see, move, and even 'feel' simulated molecular structures in three dimensions." In this case the virtual reality interface is coupled to a molecular dynamics simulation code rather than to an SPM. "By allowing researchers to explore, rehearse, and debug complex assembly sequences, the VMS will help in the creation of plausible atomic designs."

"Simple Guide to DNA Computers" DNA computation is not clearly on any path toward molecular machine systems, but it is of serious interest as a molecular computer, at least for some applications. This Web site provides a good entrance point to the field.

"WebMolecules is an active, sponsor-supported site designed for the 3D visualization of molecules. Over 100,000 molecular models are currently available on-line." Models are used in conjunction with the free browser 3D viewer plug-ins Chime or VRML. One of the more than two dozen categories of molecules is "nanotechnology," with about 20 entries listed.

The Web site of the Princeton Nanostructures Laboratory, operated under the direction of Professor Stephen Y. Chou, which is developing "New nanotechnologies that will fabricate structures substantially smaller, better, and cheaper than current technology permits." One of the many pages on specific projects describes "nanoimprint lithography," in which they "have achieved 10nm diameter holes and 40nm pitch in PMMA on Si or a metal substrate and excellent uniformity over 1 square inch." An article about a recent accomplishment of Prof. Chou's appears on the Daily InScight Web site of Nov. 5, 1999: "Plastic Pillars of the Microworld" (

The Web site for Nanotechnology Information Devices (NID) "concerns a funding scheme in the nanotechnology area in Europe (open to USA partners)." NID "solicits proposals on future information processing and storage systems that operate at the atomic or molecular-scale in order to achieve superior functionality or performance."

The Web site for Atoma, a non-profit organisation dedicated to developing software for nanotechnology, offers a large number of links to various sources of information related to nanotechnology.

"Building molecules one at a time" This news release describes the accomplishments of Cornell University researchers in using an STM to move a CO molecule next to an iron atom and to control the current flow to form a bond, thus constructing the molecules Fe(CO) and Fe(CO)2.

Foresight Institute Web site has been designated a Cool Site in the Netscape Open Directory, an "Open Source Web Searching" project.

Foresight Update 39 - Table of Contents


Foresight Credits and Kudos

The 7th Foresight Conference was a huge success due to the hard working chairmen, staff and volunteers. Many thanks to Co-chairs Deepak Srivastava and Jan Hoh and Tutorial Chair Don Brenner for working so hard throughout the year during their busy schedules, and to Marcia Seidler for keeping the conference team well organized and the event running smoothly.

Thank You!!
Jan Hoh, Deepak Srivastava, Don Brenner
1999 Foresight Conference Chairmen

A huge thanks to all the volunteers: Robert Armas, Emanuel Barros, Stephanie Corchnoy, Tee Toth-Fejel, Paul Melnyk, and Max Sims. And, thanks to Foresight's dedicated staff: Jim Lewis, Tanya Jones, Carol Shaw, and Elaine Tschorn, for helping with the additional Fall Senior Associate Gathering and conference 'extra work load,' and to new Office Administrator, Yakira Heyman for jumping into the Foresight's office chaos and restoring order.

Special thanks this quarter go to IMM's CFO Paul Melnyk, who managed the negotiation process for Foresight's new lease on our office in the tight and expensive Silicon Valley market.

Major thanks to Matt and Gail Taylor for inviting Foresight to participate in their November DesignShop, at which we worked on redesigning Foresight operations to be more self-organizing and automated.

Thanks also to Doug Engelbart for hosting our December fundraiser reception dinner, and as always to Mark and Judy Muhlestein for doing the food at these events.

Ongoing vigorous thanks go to Senior Associate Richard Terra, a professional editor who edits the Foresight Update on a pro bono basis. It's never been done better, Richard!

Thanks to Solveig Singleton for inviting two Foresight representatives to the Cato/Forbes ASAP conference; it impressed even us with the speed of technological advance, which is hard to do.

Thanks to Prof. Fred Turner for including nanotechnology in his Derriere Guard presentation this year, and to Stefania DeKeness of NYU for organizing this inspirational cultural festival.

For sending information, thanks go to—among others—Don Brenner, Doug Denholm, John Faith, Rochelle Fuller, John Gilmore, Stan Hutchings, Rob Jellinghaus, Tom Mazanec, Gina Miller, Anthony Napier, Mark Reiff, Gregory Sullivan, Eric Tilenius, Robert Trombatore, Steve Vetter, John Walker.

Chris Peterson
Executive Director, Foresight Institute

Foresight Update 39 - Table of Contents


Upcoming Events

NanoSpace 2000 — Advancing the Human Frontier, January 23-28, 2000, Houston, Texas. The Third International Conference on Integrated Nano/Microtechnology for Space Applications. Sponsored By: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Hosted by: The Institute for Advanced Interdisciplinary Research Meeting Headquarters: South Shore Harbour Resort & Conference Center only minutes from the NASA/ Johnson Space Center, and Rice University's Carbon Nanotechnology Laboratory in Houston, Texas. Includes Nano Modeling Session chaired by Deepak Srivastava, NASA Ames Research Center, and also sessions on nanoelectronics, micro-nano sensor technologies, nanomaterials and nanocomposites, manipulation of nanomaterials, production of nanomaterials, energy storage, biosensors, bionanotechnology/computing, biomems/microrobotics, chemical labs on a chip. Web:

Biophysical Society 44th Annual Meeting, February 12-16, 2000, New Orleans, Louisiana. 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:

ScreenTech 2000 — High Throughput Screening Miniaturization Technologies, February 28 - March 3, 2000, Hyatt Regency Monterey, Monterey, CA. "THE event to attend to hear the very latest reports on technologies used by the major players in High-Throughput Screening (HTS) today, and to learn what you need to effectively miniaturize your screening program." Organized by IBC USA Conferences. For more information, contact Jeffrey Levinson at (508) 481-6400 or email: 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:

18th International Meeting of the Molecular Graphics and Modelling Society, April 5-8, 2000 at the University of York, UK. "Modelling Biomolecular Mechanism: From States to Processes at the Atomic Level. The meeting focuses on the study of biomolecular processes including chemical reactions, protein folding, transport & diffusion and energy transduction. The meeting showcases advances in theoretical and computational approaches to studying biomolecular processes as well as powerful single molecule and time-resolved experimental techniques. ... The meeting will provide an important and timely opportunity to review and stimulate discussion across the many disciplines addressing the mechanistic aspects of structure-function relationships in biological processes at the atomic level." Web:

Commercialization of Nanostructured Materials, April 6-7, 2000, Miami Beach, FL USA. "Find out from the key players the current status and potential impact of nanostructured materials in such major industries as automotives, telecommunications and chemical pharmaceuticals." Contact: Customer Service (617) 232-7400; Email:; WebPage:

2nd Annual Carbon Nanotubes: Advances in Cutting Edge Applications & Scalable Production, April 10-11, 2000, Miami Beach, FL USA. "While unprecedented interest in a variety of possible commercial applications has accelerated research and development, a key obstacle to commercialization remains the need for cost effective, large-scale production methods. " Contact: Customer Service: (617) 232 7400; Email:; WebPage:

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 39 - Table of Contents | Page1 | Page2 | Page3 | Page4 | Page5

From Foresight Update 39, originally published 30 December 1999.


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