Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by jackie c, Dec 15, 2004.

  1. jackie c

    jackie c Well-Known Member

    Jul 17, 2004
    I just started reading Michael Crichton's 'Prey'. I thought I would post this little blurb out of the introduction,

    These are two knowledgable scientists,


    "Within 50 -100 years a new class of organisims is likely to emerge. These organisims will be artificial in the sense that they will originally be designed by humans. However, they will reproduce, and will "evolve" into something other that their original form; they will be "alive" under any reasonable definition of the word... The pace of evoulutionary change will be extremly rapid...The impact on humanity and the biosphere could be enormous, larger then the industrial evolution, nuclear weapons, or environmental pollution. We must take steps now to shape the emergence of artifical organisims..."
    Doyne Farmer and Alletta Belin,1992



    " There are many people, including myself, who are quite queasy about the consequences of this technology for the future. We are talking about changing so many things that the risk of society handling it poorly through lack of preparation is very large"
    K. Eric Drexler,1992

    Chrichton talks about the mistakes made in the past, and our arrogance to not learn form them, and about how billions of dollars are being spent in nanotechnology researce, by both the US government and private companies.
    While the technology is mostly a materials tecnology, its potential goes far beyond that.
    Its out there now, used in sunscreens, stain resistant fabrics, selfcleaning window glass, and more.
    Chrichtons has real concerns over unscrupulous human behavoiur and greed, and the potential for diaster. The question of sustainablility of our selves and our planet is not in our control. We can do what we can to help the situation, but ultimately its going to be up to big business and governments as to whether or not we will survive.
  2. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

    Sep 19, 2004
    Interesting about Nanotechnology.
    A while back I read the folling article which might be revealing. It is pretty mind boggling stuff:

    "How to Understand the Nanotech Boom in 5 Minutes

    Scientific American:

    'Combining nanocomputers with molecular machines would allow almost anything that can be designed to be made from a variety of inexpensive raw materials...'

    Nanotechnology is basically the process of manipulating matter on a molecular scale... often involving dimensions of less than 1,000 nanometers. In other words, very, very small stuff.

    Nanotechnology is going to revolutionize just about everything we do. In fact, scientists foresee a day when they will be able to churn out virus-size computers, cancer-munching robots swimming through arteries, and desktop factories assembling watches out of dust.

    Everything will be done in miniature. Current manufacturing methods will become a thing of the past. Right now, manufacturing is done from the top down. You start with a block of iron or a sheet of fiberglass and you cut parts out and bend stuff around, add and remove it. In other words, casting, grinding, and milling. It takes a long time and is very labor intensive, not to mention wasteful.

    But next year, the year after, and the year after that, nanotechnology will allow manufacturers to start at the bottom and build up. For example, last year a team of scientists from UCLA was able to make a switch that could be turned off and on much like a transistor out of a single organic molecule called a catenane. This year they intend to test a 16-bit circuit small than a virus. Organic circuits will someday overtake silicon in the electronic miniaturization race.

    With nanotechnology, there will be new generations of products that are cleaner, stronger, lighter and more precise.

    You're Already Seeing the First Applications

    You've probably seen ads for Lee Performance Khakis. In one television commercial a guy goes to Las Vegas and gets beer, wine and nacho cheese spilled all over his pants, but there is no stain. Nothing sticks to the pants because they are made from 'nano-whiskers' produced by Nano-Tex, which makes stain-resistant textiles.

    There is also Advanced Powder Technologies' ZinClear, a transparent sunblock made using nanotechnology that gives more UV protection than zinc oxide. The old sunblocks use ground zinc oxide crystals, but they are still so big you can see them. That's why they are white. With nanotechnology, the oxide crystal is reduced to tiny particles about 50 nanometers in width. At that size they're transparent - no more white stuff on your nose!

    Nanotech is also being used in the running boards of SUV's. Nissan has an SUV with a nanotube-enhanced bumper (5% of the plastic) that will automatically return to its original shape after a fender-bender. It's already for sale in Japan.

    NanoBio makes NanoDefend, a product that decontaminates surfaces, and NanoGreen, which does the same thing for skin. General Les Lyles of Air Force Materiel Command says, 'Nanotechnology is going to revolutionize everything we do in the military.' 'Nanotechnology is not just a fad. It's integral to corporate R&D across a wide range of industries, and sophisticated investors know that.'

    Inmat's Air D-Fense makes a product that gives Wilson's Double Core tennis balls twice the life of regular balls. The balls have a nano-clay composite layer to slow the escape of air. This product might be transferable to car tires, a billion dollar market. Nano-clay is lighter, thinner, cheaper and better for the environment than current products.

    The Navy uses aluminum and titanium oxides made from nanoparticles to recondition worn steering mechanisms in submarines. With less wear and no barnacle growth on the bow planes used to steer the subs, the Navy expects to save $100 million a year using the nano-based cleaning material.

    But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Just take a look at what else is coming...

    A Mind-Boggling Array of Uses

    Imagine computers smaller than bacteria, or the contents of the Library of Congress stored in something smaller than a marble. Or how about materials 100 times stronger than steel at a fraction of the weight? Or medical robots that hunt down tumors or clear blocked arteries? Or bioengineered tissues to replace damaged or diseased body parts?

    We'll see nano machines : software-controlled, ultra-precise machines that can manipulate chemical actions at the atomic level to produce a wide variety of products and even copy themselves. These are programmable molecular assembler/replicators.

    Nano computer technology will change silicon chips, data storage and semiconductor materials, providing molecular electronic components and new computing technologies at the electron level. And then there are aerospace applications ...
    Materials for launch vehicles with strength similar to that of diamonds (69 times the strength per unit of mass of titanium)....
    NASA missions: NASA is focused on five enterprises: Mission to Planet Earth, Aeronautics, Human Exploration and Development of Space, Space Science, and Space Technology. Nanotechnology has potential applications for each.
    The Earth Observing System (EOS) will use satellites and other systems to gather data on the Earth's environment. The EOS data system will need to process and archive more than a terabyte of information per day for the indefinite future. With projected nanocomputer processing speeds of 10 18 MIPS, a million calculations on each byte of one day's data would take one second on a desktop computer...
    Active surfaces for aeronautic control: This would provide finer control than exhibited by birds, some of which can hover in a light breeze with very little wing motion. Nanotechnology will also enable the production of extremely small aircraft.
    On-demand spares and tools: Space stations require a large store of spare parts and tools that are rarely used. Nanotechnology could be used to convert raw materials into a wide variety of products under software control. The space station crew would simply make spare parts and tools as needed.
    Spacecraft docking: 'Swarms' could be used to extend from a spacecraft, establish contact with another spacecraft, and guide the two together.
    Smart space suits: Active materials could allow the construction of skin-tight space suits that cover the entire body except the head (for which a conventional helmet would be used). The material senses the astronaut's motion and changes shape to accommodate it. This could substantially reduce or eliminate the limitations current systems place on astronauts' range of motion.
    Hydrogen storage: NASA is studying absorbing and packing hydrogen in carbon nanotubes and nanoropes. Efficient nanotechnology-based hydrogen storage may be only a couple of years away.
    Oxygen storage: Nano-based diamondoid spheres may be able to hold oxygen at much greater pressure than currently possible.
    Miniature Spacecraft: Smaller, lighter spacecraft would be cheaper to build and launch.

    Not to mention various general uses:
    Swarms - devices made up of large numbers of identical simple nano machines that grasp and release each other, changing shape. They can take almost any form, hold things in place, move things, form a capsule around something. The number of complex tasks they can perform is virtually endless.
    Active materials - similar to living tissue, these will be filled with nano-scale sensors, computers, and actuators so the material can read its environment, compute a response, and act...
    Smart dust: Based on sensors the size of bacteria, billions of tiny lighter-than-air nano-vehicles would be released into the atmosphere to measure wind currents and atmospheric conditions. The same thing could be done in the ocean...
    Waste recycling: Nanotechnology could build filters that attract and then move contaminating molecules to a laboratory modification into useful or at least inert products.
    Non-biological food: It may be possible to directly generate food by non-biological means.
    Fuel cells: Nanotechnology could permit the construction of much more efficient membranes for fuel cells to allow the passage of protons while blocking everything else.
    Electromechanical sensors: Ultra-miniature electromechanical devices, probably made from carbon nanotubes.


    Nanotechnology is going to dominate the science and technology scene for the next decade. And fortunes will be made in the process. "

  3. jackie c

    jackie c Well-Known Member

    Jul 17, 2004
    YIKES!! I had no idea there was sooo much of it already out there!
  4. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2002
    missoula, montana
    Prey is an excellent book.
  5. caballoviejo

    caballoviejo Well-Known Member

    Sep 6, 2004
    Nanotechnology=nanomaterials doesn't scare me much. Its been around awhile.

    Self-reproduction is the risky part but I doubt that it will very easy to "create" the equivalent of an organism. Robots (as opposed to robotics) have been forcast for ages and I've yet to see a useful one. Besides maybe global warming will keep the engineered beasties at bay.
  6. stumpyacres

    stumpyacres Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2002
    they have some stuff on it on ksnn nasa site... real info
  7. rkintn

    rkintn mean people suck

    Dec 12, 2002
    Back in NW TN
    Prey is an excellent book! Michaeal Crichton does a good job of making science understandable and pretty scary and thought provoking at the same time! Jurassic Park and The Lost World are a couple of favs. He also has a new one out but I have forgotten the name of it. I saw it last weekend at Books A Million.