Books are listed in order of increasing specialization and level of reading
challenge. Your suggestions are welcome. If a book's price looks too high,
ask your librarian to get it through interdepartmental loans.--Editor
Envisioning a Sustainable Society, by Lester W. Milbrath,
State University of New York Press, 1989, paperback, $18.95. Written by
a speaker at the First Foresight
Conference on Nanotechnology, this is the first environmental book to
discuss nanotechnology. Possible effects, both positive and negative, are
outlined, along with hypertext and the science court procedure. (There is
a minor confusion regarding the connection between hypertext and nanotechnology,
which would be easily fixed in a hypertext medium.) Recommended especially
for those interested in the response of an academic environmentalist to
Drexler's book Engines
of Creation. For the lay reader. Analog Essays on Science, ed. Stanley Schmidt, Wiley
Science, 1990, hardcover, $19.95. Twenty science essays including two based
on nanotechnology and one on memes. Accessible to the lay reader.
Microcosmos, by Jeremy Burgess, Michael Marten, and
Rosemary Taylor, Cambridge University Press, 1987, hardcover, $29.95. A
beautiful collection of pictures taken with light microscopes and electron
microscopes of the everyday objects around (and within) us. Fascinating
to those with or without a science background, the book can be used to interest
nontechnical people of all ages, from grandparents to five-year-olds, in
the microscale world. FI Advisor Stewart Brand: "The range and quality
of images presented here is an exciting introduction to the micro-future."
Molecular Machinery, by Andrew Scott, Basil Blackwell,
1989, hardcover, $19.95. An interesting short overview of chemistry, from
bond types to existing molecular devices like catalysts. Accessible to the
serious lay reader.
Molecular Biology of the Cell, by Bruce Alberts et al.,
Garland, 1989, hardcover, $39.95. Second massive edition of this work on
the molecular machinery in cells and general cell biology; explains how
this machinery is organized in biological systems (in a manner quite different
from the organization planned for nanomechanical systems). For readers with
some science background.
Molecular Biology of the Gene, by James Watson et al.,
Benjamin/Cummings, 1987, hardcover, $55.95. Fourth massive edition of this
classic work on genetics. Narrower in scope than the book listed above,
but it covers much more than just DNA. Technical.
A Call for Papers has been issued for a new journal
entitled Nanotechnology to be sponsored by the Institute
of Physics in the U.K. A quarterly to begin in June 1990, it is described
as the world's first journal devoted exclusively to nanoscale physics, electronics,
and engineering. Nanotechnology is stated to be "a key enabling technology
of the future," which "bridges the gap between the very ultimate
advances in conventional engineering manufacture, metrology, and performance
and the application of atomic level regimes to practical usage in engineering,
fabrication, optics, electronics, materials science, biology, and medicine."
metrology involving dimension size and tolerances less than the wavelength
of light and down to values of at least 0.2 nm but preferably to x-ray levels
performance of micromechanisms to the subnanometer and molecular levels
in the design of instruments and machine tools
the application of nanometer level instruments such as scanning tunneling
microscopes to biology, medicine, and materials science.
The backgrounds of the Editor and Editorial Board indicate that the journal
will have a special focus on metrology, the science of measurement. E. Clayton
Teague of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, one of the
journal's Regional Editors, informs us that it will also cover nanoelectronics,
molecular electronics, and vacuum microelectronics.
While the journal's scope indicates that the title Nanotechnology
refers to the broader, British meaning (not just technology based on molecular
manufacturing, but all nanoscale technology) it promises to be an interesting
contribution to the literature. For further
information, contact the publisher IOP Publishing Ltd, Techno House,
Redcliffe Way, Bristol, BS1 6NX, U.K.
The economics journal Market Process will publish an article
on market-style "agoric" software in the Spring 1990 issue. The
article is based on a visit by Prof. Don Lavoie of George Mason University
and two graduate students to agoric authors Mark
S. Miller and Eric Drexler. A free
copy of this issue is available by writing to the Center for the Study of
Market Processes, address given below.
The visit was stimulated by the publication of a series of three
papers on agoric computation written by Miller and Drexler; their suggestions
may be relevant to the problem of efficiently exploiting computer systems
with a trillion processors (as well as more near-term issues in computation).
Miller has donated 40 sets of the papers for distribution to interested
Foresight members; please send to the Foresight Institute a stamped, self-addressed
9 by 12 inch envelope with $2.05 postage within the U.S. to receive your
Prof. Lavoie now leads a small working group called the Agorics Project;
a goal of the group is to use agoric computational techniques to model the
workings of economic mechanisms, starting with Carl Menger's theory of the
evolution of money in a barter economy. The group is primarily composed
of economists and could use assistance from one or more persons able to
program in the Smalltalk language. Those interested should contact Prof.
Lavoie at the address below.
The Agorics Project is planning a symposium entitled "Evolutionary
Economics: Learning from Computation" on April 23-24. Sponsored by
the Center for the Study of Market Processes, it will be held at George
Mason University in Fairfax, VA, near Washington, DC. The focus of the meeting
will be open-ended, evolutionary process modeling rather than the more traditional
closed-ended, equilibrium modeling more common to economics. Among the topics
to be included are agoric systems (speaker Mark S. Miller), neural nets,
genetic algorithms and classifier systems. There will be no registration
fee for the symposium. For further information, contact the Center for the
Study of Market Processes, Dept. of Economics, George Mason University,
4400 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030.
When you call the Foresight Institute you will hear a new voice, that of
Chris Rodgers. Chris is working with FI half-time and handles most phone
inquiries and the vast bulk of mail requests, including all new memberships
and renewals. We're glad to have her on board and hope you will join with
us in welcoming her when you call FI.
Welcoming remarks by Nils Nilsson, Chairman of Stanford Computer Science
Dept. and GBN President Peter Schwartz
Chairman's overview and introduction, Eric Drexler
Electrostatic self assembly, Michael Ward, Du Pont
Quantum transistors and ICs, Federico Capasso, Bell Labs
Protein design, Tracy Handel, Du Pont
Molecular modeling and design, Jay Ponder, Yale
Molecular electronics, Robert Birge, Syracuse Univ.
STM, John Foster, IBM Almaden
The future of computation, Bill Joy, Sun Microsystems
Micromachines, Joseph Mallon*, Nova Sensor
Theoretical limits to computation, Norman Margolus, MIT
Molecular systems engineering, Eric Drexler
Panel on technical challenges
Progress in Japan, Hiroyuki Sasabe, RIKEN
Medical spinoffs, Greg Fahy, American Red Cross
Environmental effects, Lester Milbrath, SUNY
Risk assessment, Ralph Merkle, Xerox PARC
Economic effects, Gordon Tullock, Univ. of Arizona
Policy recommendations, Arthur Kantrowitz, Dartmouth
Panel on consequences
As we go to press we have not received a release form from the speaker marked
with an asterisk, Joseph Mallon, but we hope to be able to include his talk
in the distributed tape sets.
An important note about the videotapes: these were made for documentary
purposes only and are not broadcast quality.
The cost of the audiotape set is $125, with a special price of $75 for students,
nonprofit organizations, and conference attendees. The cost of the videotape
set (in U.S. standard VHS format) is $225, with a special price of $175
for students, nonprofit organizations, and conference attendees. To qualify
for the discounted price, students and nonprofit organizations should include
proof of status with their order.
To receive the tapes, send the amount above to the Foresight Institute at
P.O. Box 61058, Palo Alto, CA 94306 USA. California residents add sales
tax; outside the U.S. add $20 for additional shipping cost. Allow 4-6 weeks
for delivery; no P.O. Box addresses please. Funds may be sent in the form
of checks drawn on a U.S. bank or a postal money order cashable in the U.S.
Much will be happening in March, but as we go to press it is both too early
to report the results, and too late to list them in Upcoming Events. Here
is a list of nanotechnology lectures (by Eric Drexler) scheduled for March,
most in Japan:
March 5: Burlington Resources (Palm Springs);
March 9: Exploratory Research for Advanced Technology (ERATO) Program
(Tsukuba, Japan), and AIST/MITI (Tsukuba);
March 10: Tokyo Institute of Technology;
March 12: Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology;
March 13: University of Tokyo;
March 14: Micromachine Symposium (Tokyo), and Sony (Yokohama);
March 15: Japan Society for the Promotion of Sciences, and the Institute
of Physical and Chemical Research (Tokyo);
March 16: Protein Engineering Research Institute (Osaka);
March 22: Distinguished Lecture, Carnegie Mellon School of Computer
In the December 9 issue of The Economist, James Younger presents
one of the clearest explanations of nanotechnology that has appeared in
the nontechnical press, including the concept of assemblers and the possibility
of both beneficial and abusive applications. Not surprising for The
Economist, our favorite newsweekly, which routinely includes good
science and technology coverage.
The December 23 Science News listed the Foresight Institute's
first conference on nanotechnology as one of the top eight technology stories
of the year.
The January Scientific American Science and the Citizen section
included a piece by Timothy Beardsley on the Foresight Conference. In true
journalists' tradition, the writer did his best to include criticisms of
the concepts, but nanotechnology emerged unscathed.
The Los Angeles Times (Jan. 7) and the Washington Post
(Jan. 14) ran an article by Michael Schrage on the future of technological
advance, including nanotechnology.
The British science and technology series "Tomorrow's World" shown
on BBC-TV (8 February) featured an interview of Eric Drexler on nanotechnology.
The book Megatrends 2000 by John Naisbitt and Patricia Aburdeen
(William Morrow, 1990) mentions nanotechnology and the book Engines
The March issue of JOM (formerly the Journal of Metals)
is expected to include coverage of the Foresight Conference by David Forrest,
a member of the MIT Nanotechnology Study Group. Additional coverage of nanotechnology
and the conference is expected in the Whole Earth Review (Summer
1990 issue) and The Atlantic.
The journal Science has released its predictions for the 1990s.
Design by trial and error will be replaced by rational design with the aid
of computers, according to M. Mitchell Waldrop in a discussion of artificial
antibodies, enzymes, and nonprotein catalysts. The computer technology for
molecular simulation will be on every desktop. Enzymes will be redesigned
for industrial uses by tailoring them for a far greater range of chemical
environments than they now have. New molecularly engineered layered catalysts
will eliminate the need for sulfuric acid and hydrogen fluoride in important
industrial reactions. And the problem of protein folding will be solved.
Robert Poole predicts that one of the major themes of physics, chemistry,
and materials science in the 1990s will be the behavior of matter at the
nanometer scale. As examples of the hot research topics of the decade Poole
cites quantum well devices, cluster-assembled materials, and nanocomposites--in
which small grain sizes lead to novel bulk properties and easier processing.
Within the decade someone "is likely to learn how to piece together
atoms and molecules one at a time using the STM."