Foresight Update 42

page 5

A publication of the Foresight Institute

Foresight Update 42 - Table of Contents | Page1 | Page2 | Page3 | Page4 | Page5


Book Review: A Primer On Immortality

Reviewed by Richard P. Terra

Immortality: How Science is Extending Your Life Span — and Changing the World
by Ben Bova
Avon Books (2000; originally published in hardcover in 1998)
Trade paperback; 283 pages. ISBN 0-380-79318-0

Ben Bova's Immortality is a good overview of the current state of our knowledge about the cellular and biochemical bases of aging for non-technical readers. As a summary of the potential offered by molecular medicine and nanotechnology for increasing longevity and evenutally reversing the effects of aging, it's somewhat less successful. Still, if you don't have a background in biology or in medicine, or you know someone who fits that description, Immortality is a solid examination of what may be the most profound and far-reaching consequence of advanced nanotechnology: long, long lifespans in peak physical condition.

The bulk of the book, and the most successful section, is taken up with Bova's description of what biomedical researchers have discovered about how our cells work, what they think are the root mechanisms of aging and senescence, and potential therapies for dealing with these effects.

A second, shorter section deals with social and economic impacts of increased longevity, as well as the paradoxical problem of convincing people that an increased lifespan is a good and desirable thing.

If you're looking for a good overview on why so many in the nanotech community consider nanomedicine one of the top priorities for directed applications development, Immortality is a good place to start.

Foresight Update 42 - Table of Contents


Short Review: Nanotechnology Industries Newsletter, Issue #2

Keeping track of the burgeoning flow of information about nanotechnology is beyond the efforts of any single publication, so it's with great pleasure that we note the second issue of the Nanotechnology Industries Newsletter (July 2000). Produced by Gina "Nanogirl" Miller, the principal in Nanotechnology Industries, it's an eclectic mix of news, articles and interviews.

In this issue, articles by Robert Freitas (on tangible money in a post-nanotech era), Will Ware (computer modeling systems and nanotech design), and Charles Ostman (a think-piece on what he terms bioconvergence) provide much food for thought.

Gina's interview with George Skidmore of Zyvex offers an in-depth personal look at the work going on at the first nanotech firm devoted to developing an assembler. An extensive listing of conferences and events, as well as a variety of short news items, round out the issue. Definitely worth a read. For more information, visit:

Foresight Update 42 - Table of Contents


A Nanodot Update

Senior Associate Dave Kreiger, who manages the Nanodot web site, reports:

"Nanodot has been quite a success. The site is currently averaging around 200 unique visitors and 1500 page views per day. We've been mentioned on Slashdot and National Public Radio's Science Friday.

"In addition, a generous Senior Associate has offered us the use of a server co-located with a major ISP, and we hope to make the move within the next month."

Foresight Update 42 - Table of Contents


Credits and Kudos

Since Foresight Institute President Chris Peterson was engaged with the September Senior Associates' Gathering as we go to press, I've taken the opportunity to commandeer the "Credits & Kudos" column this time around . . . Because Chris normally writes this column, there hasn't been occasion to publicly offer our appreciation for the enormous amount of time and energy she devotes to Foresight and its activities. Brava, Chris, and our sincere appreciation for all your efforts.

Similarly, all too often the work of the regular Foresight office staff goes unacknowledged here, though definitely not unappreciated. As Update Editor, I have the pleasure of working with Tanya Jones, Yakira Heyman, Elaine Tschorn, and Harriet Weiss on a regular basis. They are unfailingly polite and professional, and if nothing else, make my job producing the Update enormously easier. Of course, it's their day-to-day efforts that keep Foresight up and running. Thank you!

Our thanks also to Senior Associate Dave Kreiger, who set up and maintains the Nanodot web site, and is also working on enhancements to the Slash open-source code to improve it. Nanodot has been an amazingly successful addition to the battery of Foresight's tools for communicating information and facilitating discussions, and this is due in large part to Dave's efforts. Many, many thanks!

Thanks also to Carol Shaw, who works mostly behind the scenes as Foresight's Chief Information Officer. Her assistance with Foresight's IT needs has been invaluable. Thank you, Carol.

Sincere thanks to the authors who regularly contribute columns to the Update: Jeff Soreff (Recent Progress), Rob Freitas (Nanomedicine), and Josh Hall (always something different and thought-provoking). Working with them is an unalloyed pleasure (They even get their articles in ahead of deadline—an editor's fondest wish). Thank you, gentlemen.

And once again, our thanks to the tireless (well, maybe he does get tired, but he still keeps at it . . .) efforts of Foresight WebMaster Jim Lewis, who somehow manages to bring order and even elegance to the ever-expanding Foresight and IMM web sites. My personal thanks as well, for all of Jim's collaborative efforts as we work together to put each issue of the Update on the Web as well as into print. Thanks, Jim!

— Richard P. Terra, Editor Foresight Update

Foresight Update 42 - Table of Contents


Nominees for 2000 Feynman Annual Prizes Announced

The Foresight Institute announced the nominations for this year's Annual Feynman Prizes in Nanotechnology.

Two prizes of $5,000 each, one for theoretical and another for experimental work, will be awarded to the researchers whose recent work has most advanced the development of molecular nanotechnology. The prizes will be given at the Eighth Foresight Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology.

The annual Feynman Prizes in Nanotechnology are sponsored by the Foresight Institute to recognize recent achievements that contribute to the development of nanotechnology, and to encourage and accelerate that development. The nature of the achievement is not specified in advance, and the judges choose from among the entries submitted which one most advanced the field during the preceding several years. Special consideration is given to submissions clearly leading toward the construction of a general-purpose molecular assembler.

The following individuals or teams were named as Finalists for experimental work:

The following individuals or teams were named as Finalists for theoretical work:

The Feynman Prizes in Nanotechnology are named in honor of Nobel laureate physicist Richard P. Feynman who, in 1959, gave a visionary talk at Caltech in which he said "The problems of chemistry and biology can be greatly helped if our ability to see what we are doing, and to do things on an atomic level, is ultimately developed—a development which I think cannot be avoided."

For more information about the 2000 Feynman Prizes, visit

Feynman Prize Nominees Receive Prestigious
Julius Springer Prize for Applied Physics

Stan Williams of HP Labs and UCLA collaborator Jim Heath have won this year's Julius Springer Prize for Applied Physics, one of the field's most prestigious international awards. Williams and Heath were recognized for pioneering work in nanotechnology: their team last year demonstrated the first molecular switches in a solid-state device that can be set and read electronically (see related story). This work has also been nominated for the 2000 Annual Feynman Prize (above). The Springer Prize is awarded by the publishers of Applied Physics, a major European journal in the applied physics field. Previous winners are P. Fromherz (Germany) for the invention of the neuron-silicon junction and S. Nakamura (Japan) for the GaN blue laser diode.

Foresight Update 42 - Table of Contents


A Few Words from Our Sponsors:
Conference Sponsors Speak Out on Support of Foresight Activities

We'd like to offer our thanks to the corporate sponsors who are supporting the Eighth Foresight Conference. We asked each of these firms for a comment on why they believe their support of Foresight is important. Here are some of their replies:


Primary Sponsor: Technanogy, Inc.

Technanogy logoFounded in 1999, Technanogy is the world's first nanotechnology incubator. We are committed to leading the creation of the breakthroughs that will drive the nanotechnology revolution.

Technanogy invests capital, expertise and intellectual property in businesses dedicated to the discovery and commercialization of nanotechnology. The company is currently targeting nanomaterials, nanobiology, molecular electronics and nanotechnology-related information technology. As the field progresses, we will expand our scope to encompass other key sectors. Technanogy is poised at the intersection of the 21st century's most promising technologies and some of its largest markets. Our mission is to Invent revolutionary breakthroughs, Invest in industry-changing opportunities and Inspire powerful innovations in the next century. To achieve these goals, the company is building an infrastructure to efficiently incubate and launch its ventures, providing the resources necessary to rapidly turn breakthroughs into businesses. We are creating a 21st century environment that unleashes human creativity, removes barriers of all kinds and empowers people to realize their dreams.

We are proud to be a sponsor of Foresight Institute activities and wish to form lasting relationships with the members of the Foresight community. If you have an idea for an achievable breakthrough, a venture needing funding and our incubation capabilities or want to join an exciting research or entrepreneurial team, please contact Scott Mize at 949-640-2223 or

We look forward to inventing the future with you!


Principal Sponsor: Sun Microsystems

Sun Microsystems logo  

Sun Microsystems is a leading supplier of UNIX servers. Sun uses state-of-the-art silicon CPU technology in its machines. Performance advances by scaling silicon should continue throughout the next ten years, but there's already a CPU-memory wall resulting from the inherent mismatch in CPU and memory scaling in silicon technologies. Molecular electronics might offer a number of solutions in the form of fast, ultradense SRAM. Other applications include backing store and potentially dense logic. Molecular electronic or nanodevices may find wide application in personal digital assistants, if power and size objectives can be met. Nanotechnology is an exciting, growing field, thanks in large part to Foresight.


General Sponsors:

Foley & Lardner

Foley & LardnerFoley & Lardner's involvement in nanotechnology dates from the mid-1980's, when the firm began representing companies with an interest in semiconductor fabrication and high-density memory elements. Our IP attorneys gained a working knowledge of the technologies for producing and manipulating the nanostructured materials employed in these two contexts. More recently, we also have collaborated with companies focused on microminiaturization of assay technology, so-called "labs on a chip," and on the related approaches to reading out and analyzing information from such devices. Finally, F&L attorneys are working at the forefront of the nacscent "nanomechanics" field, bringing together expertise in microfabrication and fluidics, among other disciplines.

We believe that Foley & Lardner is the only law firm that has a practice group dedicated to the business of nanotechnology. Our Nanotechnology Group is a multidisciplinary team comprising attorneys in our Business Law, IP and Tax Practice Groups who understand the unique aspects and challenges facing new companies entering the nanotechnology arena. It is our long-term perspective on client relationships that enables us to provide highly customized legal services designed to match the evolutionary stages of a company.


Zyvex LLC

Zyvex logo

Zyvex Founder and CEO James Von Ehr: "I first read about nanotechnology in Scientific American back in the late 1980s or so. When Eric Drexler received Texas Instrument's Kilby Young Innovator's Award in the early 90's, I attended his fascinating speech. I asked to learn more, and he recommended Nanosystems, which I immediately read. When thinking of starting Zyvex, I went to the Foresight Institute for a number of meetings with Eric and Chris to find out more about them. I decided to become a Senior Associate to support what they are doing, and have since joined in funding the Feynman Grand Prize. Zyvex is pleased to be able to help sponsor the Eighth Foresight Conference."

Jim Von Ehr, II


Supporting Sponsors:


JEOL logoJEOL, the world's leading manufacturer of electron optical equipment, has been a proud sponsor of Foresight conferences since 1993. The company manufactures electron microscopes capable of optically and spectroscopically resolving individual atoms or clusters of atoms, true state-of-the-art capability. Thus, in a sense, JEOL has been involved in the characterization and visualization of nanostructures since the term was coined very late last century. JEOL will continue to take a front line interest in providing the required instruments (Transmission Electron Microscopes, Scanning Electron Microscopes, Scanning Auger Microscopes, MicroProbes, and Scanning Probe Microscopes) to monitor and characterize the engineered structures in the ever-shrinking field of nanotechnology. It is an exciting, though very small, place to be.


Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk and Rabkin

Howard Rice logoHoward Rice is a full-service law firm with creative lawyers who get results for the firm's clients. We have built our nationwide reputation by anticipating and responding quickly to our clients' needs and creating solutions to problems big or small. Denis Rice, a founding partner, became interested in molecular nanotechnology when he met K. Eric Drexler several years ago: "I first heard Eric Drexler in August 97 at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, speaking on a panel at the American Bar Association Annual Meeting. I was blown away. I then bought his book, Unbounding the Future, and was even more excited about the potentialities in this new discipline. I have been doing a lot of work in the Internet arena, including venture capital, start-ups, taking old Economy businesses into the New Economy, et cetera, and I always remind my clients or co-counsel that there's another Big Development just over the rise."


Upcoming Events

Foresight Update 42 - Table of Contents | Page1 | Page2 | Page3 | Page4 | Page5

From Foresight Update 42, originally published 30 September 2000.