Building with RNA; Nanotech X Prize; Closing remarks

Last talk: Luc Jaeger of UCSB explaining “Sculpting Bio-materials by Programmable Assembly of RNA”. He has been building super-molecular RNA assemblies. Good control of folding has been achieved. One shape they’ve built is a square, presented at Foresight Conference two years ago. Goal at that time was to make larger 2D arrays of these squares. RNA could be stiffer than DNA for these purposes. Since then, have been able to build connections between the squares as cis or trans, have been able to assemble in combinatorial connections. Ladders, diamond-like structures. Cross shaped jigsaw puzzles. He sees RNA as a 3D proto-language for composing novel molecular assemblies and structures. What to build?: Audience suggests computational elements, memory. What he made is a heart-shape using 7 RNA motifs, 786 nucleotides, 27 by 27 nm. Can see them using AFM.

Before the closing remarks, we have a short announcement about the “X Prize for Nanotech” challenge grant from Marshall Burns. There will be a Nanotech X Prize Summit in early 2006. Current need is for sponsorship — first sponsor has made a challenge grant, issued by Mark Sims of Nanorex. Mark is referring to Engines of Creation as inspiration, and describing the history of the first $10 million X Prize, and saying that we need that excitement for nanotech. Asking audience to get involved. Back to Marshall: the website will soon be available (tomorrow?) to make your contribution to match $25K from Nanorex, thereby doubling your donation. URL will be Current donors Damian Allis and Larry Millstein. Mark Sims has also joined the Foresight Nanotech Leadership Circle.

Closing comments from Christian Schafmeister: thanks to staff and sponsors. What’s special about this meeting: “Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground.” –Teddy Roosevelt. Wonderful ideas at this conference. Knows of no other meeting where public comes to listen to scientists. 13 years ago I was a nervous kid who came to this meeting, who knows what can happen in the next 13 years.

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