Foresight Institute

Announcements and Events

Preparing for nanotechnology

Selected Headlines

Molecular Nanotechnology Startup Founded to Develop First Assembler

During the 1997 Senior Associates Gathering, Senior Associate Jim Von Ehr announced the formation of Zyvex, the first molecular nanotechnology development company, which has the mission to develop the first assembler. Jim further announced that he is now hiring.

Design for a fine motion controller for molecular assembly

The Institute for Molecular Manufacturing presents a design for fine motion controller for molecular assembly developed by Dr. K. Eric Drexler.

Nanotechnologist Wins Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Prof. Richard E. Smalley, Director of the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology at Rice University, shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with his collaborators Robert F. Curl and Harold W. Kroto for their 1985 discovery of fullerenes, a hitherto unknown crystalline form of carbon. More details. See also the lead story in Update 27.

Foresight Institute News

1997 Foresight Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology

New direction for Foresight's Web Enhancement project: the CRIT Backlink Mediator

Ka-Ping Yee demonstrates his Crit Mediator software to Eric Drexler and to hypertext pioneer Doug Engelbart

Newsletter current issue

The current issue of our newsletter is Foresight Update 30 September, 1997.

Matching Grant to Develop Interactive 3D Tour of the Nanoscale World reaches goal.

Drexler named to Newsweek's "The Century Club"

Foresight Institute sponsors Distinguished Student Award

To recognize the most promising student in the rapidly developing field of nanotechnology

Reviewer needed for molecular modeling software

MacWeek has recently reviewed (favorably) a new molecular design software product for the Mac, MacSPARTAN. If anyone owns a copy of this product and is interested in reviewing it from the viewpoint of a molecular nanotechnologist, please contact Foresight Update Editor Lew Phelps at:

Foresight Recent Events

Senior Associate mini-gathering: was held May 2-4, 1997.

Find out more about the Senior Associates Program and how to join.

Contribute your opinions...

Foresight's new "State of the Field" Report on Molecular Nanotechnology, which will review events and developments of 1996, is now in preparation.

Merkle shares Kanellakis Award for public-key cryptography

Foresight Director Dr. Ralph Merkle will share the Association for Computing's (ACM) Paris Kanellakis Theory and Practice Award with the other five founders of public-key cryptography. For more details on the award, see:

Cryptography is the field Dr. Merkle worked in prior to entering computational nanotechnology, where he continues to do ground-breaking work as he did in cryptography.

The 1996 Gathering of Senior Associates has occurred.

A gathering for Senior Associates of the Foresight family of organizations was held from October 18-20, 1996. Updates were presented by Eric Drexler, Ralph Merkle, and other key players in nanotechnology on where nanotechnology stands 10 years after the publication of Engines of Creation. To share in what happened at the Gathering, see the report in Update 27.

Become a Senior Associate and be prepared for the 1997 gathering!

Foresight Ten-Year Anniversary Celebration

1996 is the ten-year anniversary of the publication of Engines of Creation and of the founding of the Foresight Institute. A celebration was held in Palo Alto on October 19, 1996.


Nanotechnology Center opens in Canada

The University of Toronto and Energenius Inc. announced the opening of the Energenius Centre for Advanced Nanotechnology.
"ECAN is a newly formed centre dedicated to advancing research and training students in the area of semiconductor nanotechnology for future device development. The centre brings together workers in the disiplines of material science, physics, and electrical engineering. Currently the centre is working on joint projects with the National Research Council of Canada, the Cornell Nanofabrication Centre, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Nanomanipulator Project."
They can be contacted by telephone at (416) 978-3012 or write to: Energenius Centre for Advanced Nanotechnology, c/o Department of Metallurgy and Materials Science, Wallberg Building, University of Toronto, 184 College St., Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E4. WWW:

Upcoming Events

American Vacuum Society Annual Meeting, Oct 20-24, San Jose, CA. Includes nanoscale science & technology. tel 212-248-0200, fax 212-248-0245, email,

Fifth Foresight Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology, Nov. 5-8, Palo Alto, CA. Enabling science and technology, computational models. Contact Foresight, tel 415-917-1122, fax 415-917-1123, email,

7th Int'l Symposium on Molecular Electronics and Biocomputing, Nov. 10-12, Nanjing, PR China. tel +86-25-361-9983, fax +86-25-771-2719, email,

SC97: High Performance Networking and Computing, Nov. 15-21, 1997, San Jose. Includes Deepak Srivastava on molecular dynamics simulation of large-scale carbon nanotubes, David Brin on "Pflops, Box Office Hits, and the Human Singularity—Will we Remain Human Long Enough to Collect Social Security?" tel 510-294-2629, fax 510-294-3422, email,

IBC's 2nd Annual International Conference on Biological Approaches and Novel Applications for Molecular Nanotechnology, December 8-9, with a pre-conference mini-symposium on Dec. 8 on Micromachining Technologies for Bioscience Applications, La Jolla, CA. Includes controlled incorporation of biomolecules in nanodevices, biosynthetic devices, sensor applications, biochemical separations, novel strategies for self-assembly of nanodevices, use of nanostructures in therapeutics. Tel: (508) 481-6400, Fax: (508) 481-7911, E-mail:,

Molecular Electronics: Science and Technology, Dec. 14-18, Puerto Rico. Molecular wires, switches, devices; self-assembly; SPM manipulation. Engineering Foundation, tel 212-705-7836, fax 212-705-7441, email, and

Device Applications of Nanoscale Materials Symposium, March 29-April 3, 1998, Dallas, Texas, at the 1998 National Meeting of the American Chemical Society. "The two main purposes of this symposium are (1) to demonstrate current, innovative applications of chemistry in the nanometer size regime for use in device electronics and optoelectronics and (2) to identify potential areas for partnerships between industry and academia where research in nanoscale chemistry can be applied to emerging technologies." Invited speakers who are also speaking at the November, 1997 Foresight Conference include James R. Von Ehr II, James M. Tour, and Jie Han. For more information or abstract form, contact Dr. Sean C. O'Brien, c/o John St. John, Box 298860 TCU Chemistry Department, Fort Worth, Texas 76129, tel (817) 921-7195, email

4th Int'l Conference on Nanostructured Materials, June 14-18, 1998, Stockholm.

Superlattices, Microstructures, and Microdevices, July 27-Aug 1, 1998, Egypt. Includes nanostructures, nanotubes, self-assembly. Contact Khalid Ismail, IBM Watson, Rt 134, Yorktown Hts, NY 10598.

Fifth Int'l Conference on Nanometer-scale Science and Technology, Aug 31-Sept 4, 1998, Birmingham, UK. Contact Institute of Physics, tel +44-171 470 4800, fax +44-171-470-4900, email,

2nd Intl. Conference on Evolvable Systems: From Biology to Hardware, Sept. 24-26, 1998. Lausanne, Switzerland. Self-replicating hardware, self-repairing hardware, applications of nanotechnology. Email,

Sixth Foresight Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology, Nov. 12-15, 1998, Santa Clara, CA. Enabling science and technology, computational models. See Foresight contact info above.

First ELBA-Foresight Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology, spring 1999, Rome. Contact EL.B.A. Foundation, tel +39-6-35420728, fax +39-6-35451637, email

Upcoming Events announced in Foresight Update 30

Recent Events

Nanomachine conference

1997 Albany Conference On Biomolecular Motors And Nanomachines was held September 4-7, 1997, in Rensselaerville, New York. Complete text of the CALL FOR PARTICIPATION; see Conference Home Page for further information.

Extropy conference highlighted nanotechnology and AI issues

Quite a few Foresight members and Senior Associates will be speaking at the upcoming EXTRO 3 meeting at the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose this August 9-10. Full details are at: or can be requested from
Max More, Ph.D.
phone: 310-398-0375 President, Extropy Institute:,
Listed below are a few of the speakers whose names may be familiar to Foresight members:

SATURDAY 8:30pm (approx.): Keynote Speaker
—K. Eric Drexler
SUNDAY 8:45-9:55am: Computer Security as the Future of Law
—Mark Miller
11:30am-12:50pm: AI Onset Panel
—Marvin Minsky, Chair
—Carl Feynman
—Robin Hanson
—Ralph Merkle
2:45-4:05pm: Investing in the Future Panel
—Gayle Pergamit
—Courtney Smith
4:10-5:20pm: Radical High-Tech Environmentalists
—Chris Peterson

We hope to see you there.

Chris Peterson, Executive Director, Foresight Institute

Nobel Laureate to address National Science Foundation on
"The Nanometer Age, Challenges and Choices"

Dr. Heinrich Rohrer, who together with Gerd Binnig was awarded the 1986 Nobel prize for physics for the invention of the scanning tunneling microscope, will address the National Science Foundation in Arlington, VA on June 16, 1997. The event is open to the public, and the National Science Foundation has posted on the Web more information and directions for visitors. Rohrer is to discuss how advances in current miniaturization technology and in assembling objects from molecular building blocks will together lead to building complex objects molecule by molecule. Rohrer's talk is part of NSF's "Distinguished Lecture Series."

Workshop on hi-tech materials announced:

Nondestructive Testing and Computer Simulations in Materials Science and Engineering
9 - 12 June 1997
St.Petersburg, Russia

Complete text of Announcement

Nanotechnology and Micromachining talks at Stanford

A series of talks on "Nanotechnologies and Micromachining in Japan and The U.S." will be given every Thursday, 4/3 through 5/29, at 4:15 - 5:30 pm, at Stanford University Terman Auditorium. These talks are open to the public and free of charge. For more information, see: The Web site for these talks includes a page of nanotechnology links that is especially strong on nanotechnology in Japan.

Merkle speaks at RAND Critical Technologies seminar on nanotechnology

The Critical Technologies Institute at RAND has organized a series of five seminars that "will explore technologies emerging on the horizon of development... The five areas of science that will be explored are electronics (quantum computing), manufacturing (nanotechnology), space (solar- powered space based satellites), energy (antimatter), and biotechnology (biosensors)."

Information is available on their Web page:

Foresight Director Dr. Ralph Merkle will speak at the seminar "Nanotechnology Applications in a Space-Based Environment," scheduled for Tuesday, March 25, 1997 (but please call to confirm).

In describing the seminar, CTI notes that "Since the 1993 CTI seminar on nanotechnology, the field has developed quickly enough to warrant a second look at this technology. The field has gone from a "what if" to a "how" mode ..."

Drexler speaks at American Society for Quality Control conference

K. Eric Drexler, Ph.D., Research Fellow of the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing, spoke at the American Society for Quality Control conference in Los Angeles, held February 27-28, 1997.
Event: American Society for Quality Control, Quality Audit Division conference
Dates: February 27-28, 1997
Location: Westin Hotel at Los Angeles Airport
Keynote Speaker: Richard Brodie, author, Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme. "Becoming a Vector for the Quality Virus"
Richard Brodie +1.206.688.8600
CEO, Brodie Technology Group, Inc., Bellevue, WA, USA
Do you know what a "meme" is?
Luncheon Speaker: K. Eric Drexler, author, Nanosystems: Molecular Machines, Manufacturing, and Computation. "Quality Auditing for 21st Century Products: the Goal of Atom-by-Atom Precision"
Over the next few decades, manufacturing will undergo a profound change. Advances in miniaturization will bottom out at the level of individual atoms -- more and more, products will be designed and built to atomically-precise specifications.

We can see the early signs of this today in many fields. Pharmaceutical companies routinely design and build drug molecules. Companies such as DuPont design and build proteins for their products. Academic researchers are building small three-dimensional objects of DNA. And atomically-precise probe instruments -- such as the scanning tunneling microscope -- are being used by IBM and Japanese companies to position and even bond single molecules, with the goal of making atomically-precise computer chips.

This will change what we mean by "quality." Today's products have billions of atoms in non-optimal locations, and defects which are huge when considered at the molecular scale. The coming implementation of molecular manufacturing -- also known as nanotechnology -- can redefine quality to include requiring a product to have virtually all its atoms in a specific, designed location.

What will this mean for quality auditing? This change represents a tremendous raising of standards in manufacturing. As in some industries today, quality audits will evaluate processes at scales invisible to the naked eye, eliminating visual inspection as a useful tool. Instead, quality auditors will need to understand and evaluate the molecular manufacturing process itself, which is based on a combination of chemistry, mechanical engineering, and software. To do this effectively, quality auditors will need to become familiar with the technical basics of these new processes -- to think in a three-dimensional way about processes at the atomic level.

I look forward to discussing these issues with you at the February QAD meeting.
Cost: $425 before 2/8, $495 thereafter

To register, call 1-800-248-1946

AAAS Annual Meeting & Science Innovation Exposition

Feb. 13-18, Seattle, Washington. Includes computational chemistry, quantum computation. Tel 202-326-6450, fax 202-289-4021, email, Web

International Business Communications held a molecular nanotechnology conference

IBC hosted a conference similar in focus to the Foresight conferences: Biological Approaches and Novel Applications for Molecular Nanotechnology, held Dec. 9-11, 1996, in San Diego. Read the report in Update 27.

Nanotechnology in the news

Discover Magazine awards recognize nanotechnology researchers
Article on Scientific American Web site hails progress in computational nanotechnology: molecular dynamics simulations of fullerene gears. See 1997 epilogue to debate with Scientific American on nanotechnology.
Drexler named to Newsweek's "The Century Club"
Article on nanotechnology published by MIT Technology Review
What people are saying about Foresight and its tenth anniversary
For more news about nanotechnology, explore our new What's Being Said... section.

The Feynman Grand Prize is announced

The $250,000 Feynman Grand Prize has been offered for major advances toward molecular nanotechnology. See also the article in Foresight Update 24. A smaller prize, the biennial Feynman Conference Prize in Nanotechnology, is awarded to the researcher whose recent work has most advanced the development of molecular nanotechnology. The Feynman Conference award for 1995 is reported in an article in Foresight Update 23. At the 1997 Foresight Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology, two Feynman Conference Prizes will be awarded.

Debate with Scientific American

During 1996 a debate about nanotechnology was conducted between Foresight Institute and Scientific American magazine. This debate is noteworthy for how the World Wide Web made possible a detailed response to a published article. The overview of this debate on nanotechnology provides a summary of the debate and links to the individual documents. For the most recent result, see SciAm correction. See also the article in Foresight Update 24 and the article in Foresight Update 25.

Special Features

A Historical perspective on predicting new technologies

A Congressional Research Report recently converted to HTML provides an amusing collection of erroneous predictions about science and technology. Reading these gives a bit of perspective on the current debate about the feasibility of nanotechnology.

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