Mini-review: The Nanotech Pioneers

In the mail from Wiley-VCH: the new book The Nanotech Pioneers: Where Are They Taking Us? by Steven Edwards. The visionaries singled out are the usual crowd plus one name rarely listed: Feynman, Drexler, Merkle, Kurzweil, Von Ehr, Binnig, Roco, and the unusual one, the late Ernst Ruska, co-inventor of the electron microscope. Lots more pioneers are covered in the six chapters on specific nanotech advances, and venture capitalist Charlie Harris gets a prominent nod in the finance chapter. (I would’ve included Steve Jurvetson also.)

Edwards offers his own set of three nanotech Challenges, to be achieved by 2025, which align well with half of the Foresight Challenges:
* reduce world consumption of non-renewable carbon-based energy sources (petroleum, natural gas, and coal) by 50%,
* construct an elevator into outer-space, 62,000 miles above the Earth’s surface, and
* manufacture an affordable and commercially available quantum computer.

We see a lot of nanotech books here at Foresight, but a quick skim of this one seems to indicate an above-average level of balance, sense, and even some humor. Compared to most others out there, I recommend it. The author also takes on the controversial issues and does an unusually good job with them.

From the preface by Michael Weiner of Biophan and Natural Nano: “But beware, there are some hazards to reading further. The nanotech revolution is contagious, and there is risk that you can get roped in! I recommend you hold this book at least six inches from your soul, because nanotechnology is compelling and contagious, once you get what it is about, and what it can mean to the world and to business.” I can testify to the truth of this. —Christine

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