Stanford biophysicist critiques nanoenthusiasts

from the maybe-he's-not-all-wrong dept.
28 June, CP: This has been toned down at the request of a former Foresight Conference chair. YakiraHeyman reports that many Foresight members alerted us to this story on WiredNews: "Some scientists believe that nanotechnology will transform computing, biotechnology, and medicine, even proclaiming that the technology will one day solve every problem from hunger to disease. But researcher Steven Block has one thing to say to these nanotech Polyannas: Wake up." Read More for additional quotes. (Important: please don't send rude email to Prof. Block; he makes some good points.) Query to Nanodot readers: If some call us PollyAnna (too optimistic) and some call us Chicken Little (too pessimistic), does that mean we are about right? "One of the problems is that nanotechnology enthusiasts donít know much about biology," said Block, a biophysicist at Stanford University, during a speech on Sunday to 650 scientists and academics at the Nanoscience and Nanotechnology: Shaping Biomedical Research conference…But Block said that ever since K. Eric Drexler published Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology, scientists and science fiction fans alike have overstated the immediate impact of the technology. "Letís get real. Thereís a lot of basic science work that needs to be done," Block said. Block…offered a sobering assessment of what nanotechnology can and cannot do."We simply donít know how to design … complex macromolecules that work," Block said. Block said Drexler and his nonprofit Foresight Institute, which is developing guidelines for nanotechnology, are getting ahead of themselves. "Biologists and nanotechnologists need to figure out how natureís machines work" before trying to manipulate them or develop their own, he said." CP: Now this last point isn't quite right–engineering can often move in advance of pure science.

Leave a comment

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop