Molecular manufacturing in Physics Today

Scholars Probe Nanotechnology's Promise and Its Potential Problems surveys the widespread interest in applications based upon the novel characteristics of materials structured at the nanometer scale, and the effort that is being invested in studying environmental and health issues associated with using nanomaterials. The goal is to avoid the public relations problems faced by other technologies that did not take seriously risks and public concerns about those risks. However, "The concern that has generated the most attention in the popular press has been gray goo-self-replicating nanobots that could hypothetically get out of control." Rather than addressing this narrow issue specifically, many mainstream scientists have tried to avoid the issue by making unsupported claims that self-replicating nanomachines can't be made. Eric Drexler is quoted defending the claim that nanoscale machinery capable of making atomically precise products can be manufactured. "Through the quirks of politics, the mainstream has rejected the original goal [the vision Richard Feynman described in 1959]. We are raising a generation of researchers who have been told that molecular manufacturing will threaten their careers."

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