Debate update — Nanotechnology: Radical new science or plus ca change

You may recall this nanotech debate held at University of Nottingham. Organizer Philip Moriarty reports that “The debate video footage is currently being put together by the team from Sheffield who filmed the event. As soon as the video stream is available, I’ll let you know. Moreover, the debate will be transcribed for a journal entitled Nanotechnology Perceptions.” Debater David Forrest let us know that his slides from that event are available. To see the animations, you’ll need to also download these two files (1,2) and put them in the same directory.

David comments on why there is still skepticism about artificial molecular machine systems: “My sense is that it’s related to the cultural divide between science and engineering, exemplified by my exchange with [one debater, who] basically failed to understand that the larger errors of force field models, while completely inappropriate for the surface science problems that he is studying, are just fine for many aspects of engineering design in molecular machine systems.”

Despite a couple little oddities — e.g., why was the anti-MNT debater allowed to speak four times as long to make his case? — we salute the organizers and participants. We especially salute those who are trying to test some of these concepts in the lab, such as Philip Moriarty.

I hope that all involved will still be around to see how nanotech evolves, at which time we’ll ask the losing side to treat the winners to a round of drinks! –Christine

[Update: David’s point about science vs. engineering is shown in the very title of the debate: “Nanotechnology: Radical new science or plus ca change?” A technology, or set of technologies, is not a science, new or old.–CP]

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