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Foresight Update 15

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A publication of the Foresight Institute

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Special thanks go to Dr. James Dinkelacker for his work as Foresight's Executive Director. Dr. Dinkelacker's achievements at Foresight are too numerous to list here; Foresight members have seen their effects add up since Jamie was convinced to relocate to Palo Alto in 1991. See the article in this issue on Dr. Dinkelacker's move to AMIX and Foresight's Board of Advisors.

Enthusiastic thanks go to volunteer Carol Shaw as her term as bookkeeper comes to a close. Her work in computerizing the Foresight financial records has been invaluable and will be greatly appreciated into the indefinite future by her successors.

Conference chairman Eric Drexler and conference organizer Chris Peterson extend special thanks to the many volunteers who helped make the First General Conference on Nanotechnology a success: Jamie Dinkelacker, Dave Krieger, Tom McKendree, Chip Morningstar, Norma Peterson, Dave Wilson, and many others who joined in as needed. Thanks also to the speakers and sponsors (see article in this issue), who gave so generously of their time and funds, respectively. The firm of Niehaus Ryan Haller Public Relations, especially Ron Pernick and senior partner Ed Niehaus, performed wonderfully in enabling our message to reach the public through education of the press. In recognition of their long hours, thanks go to staff members Jane Nikkel of Foresight and Kathleen Shatter of IMM.

In connection with the meeting, a prize in molecular nanotechnology was proposed and initial funds were pledged by Foresight members Marc Arnold and Ted Kaehler. Work on establishing the prize is in progress by volunteers Vic Kley and Ted Kaehler and will be reported in a later issue.

Vigorous thanks go to members who send in relevant articles and news, including but not limited to: Jim Conyngham, Clifton Cooper, Dave Forrest, Rupert Hazle, Julian Hoogstra, Jeff LaPorte, Thomas McCarthy, Tom McKendree, David Montane, Ed Regis, Mark Reiners, Marta Sandberg, Bryan Shelby, A. Tsoularis, Jack Veach. Please keep these coming; the subject of nanotechnology is so broad that only a cooperative effort can succeed in the information-gathering task.

On a lighter note, member Jim Till sent along some shirts commemorating the recent conference, for distribution to the volunteers as thank-you gifts. These were greatly enjoyed.

Foresight Update 15 - Table of Contents


Send Fax, Email Info

We at the Foresight Institute would like to communicate much more frequently with our membership. The paper newsletter is fine for some purposes, but it is costly to produce and mail, and uses up more trees than we'd like. There's a better way to do frequent communication: fax and electronic mail. To use these means we need your fax number and/or email address. Unless you've already sent these in, please do so now.

If you're outside the U.S., try to put your fax number into a format we can use: for example, often a zero before the city code needs to be deleted. Your email address needs to be in Internet format; it should look roughly similar to ours ( including an @ sign, and ending in com, gov, edu, org, or a country code such as us, ca, uk, etc.

[Editor's note: Foresight's current email address is]

Even after some communications have moved into fax or online, Foresight's paper publications will continue in parallel.

Foresight Update 15 - Table of Contents


Write to Foresight

One of Foresight's main goals is to communicate the concepts of nanotechnology and molecular manufacturing to members of various groups, from scientists to students. You can help us refine these explanations: How do the people you know generally react to these ideas? Please write us and describe your experiences explaining nanotechnology to others. Which ideas are easy to get across and which are difficult? Which examples and explanations are most effective? How do these depend on the listener's background? Please describe any problems you've encountered. And, last, please tell us a bit about yourself. Send to Foresight Institute, Attn: Conversations, PO Box 61058, Palo Alto, CA 94306; or email to

[Editor's note: Foresight's current email address is]

Foresight Update 15 - Table of Contents


Foresight Notes

Nanosystems study group

The first Nanosystems study group has been formed at Stanford, organized by Ted Kaehler and chaired by Prof. Bob Solovay of U.C. Berkeley. For more information, send email to or call 408-974-6241.

Molecular CAD at PARC

Geoff Leach is visiting Xerox PARC, working with Ralph Merkle for six months while on a sabbatical from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Geoff has a background in computational geometry and graphical software and is working on molecular CAD tools. The focus of his sabbatical is an interactive graphical crystal editor. This tool should permit the easy design of a range of molecules whose structure is a variation of some crystal structure. This includes molecular bearings, tubes, shafts, and a broad range of other mechanical devices.

Help Foresight

Our operations and membership are expanding. Your institute could benefit greatly from donations of office space in the Palo Alto area, a plain-paper fax machine, or Macintosh equipment. Also, as our fundraising efforts increase, we could benefit from learning about potential corporate members: companies that need to keep abreast of nanotechnology. For more information, contact Foresight and request corporate member information.

First Foresight Workshop

The Foresight Institute hosted "Introduction to Nanotechnology: a Foresight Institute Briefing" this past July 11th at the Stern Center in Palo Alto. It was attended by over 50 old and new members. A range of presentations across the technical and social spectrum were given:

  • Eric Drexler, opened the briefing with a talk titled "Introduction to Molecular Nanotechnology."
  • Ralph Merkle discussed his recent work and showed a video of proposed molecular devices from designs he has developed in collaboration with Eric Drexler.
  • Ted Kaehler gave an overview of the recent artificial life (A-life) conference he attended, and the potentials and problems of this set of ideas for nanotechnology.
  • Marcus Krummenacker discussed his recent work developing molecular building blocks.
  • Neil Jacobstein explained the patterns of "Nanotechnology R&D Sponsorship: International, National and Nonprofit Foundation Projects."
  • Marc Stiegler discussed social software for nanotechnology with an explanation of both the Xanadu hypertext concept and the AMIX information marketplace business.
  • James C. Bennett discussed emergent policy issues in nanotechnology and identified the importance of the nanometrics project.
  • Ed Niehaus described the emerging public perceptions of nanotechnology and important considerations to reach expanding audiences.
  • Kathleen Shatter gave an overview of how to bootstrap a research institute for nanotechnology.
  • Chris Peterson gave a talk titled "Nanotechnology: Evolution of the Concept" and presented a historical and developmental context for nanotechnology and molecular manufacturing.
  • Gayle Pergamit spoke about "Present Choices, Future Alternatives" and provided many fresh ideas about how nanotechnology will impact daily living.
  • Jamie Dinkelacker talked about "Nanotechnology and the Need for Foresight" as both a wise activity to consider given the range of social change emergent with nanotechnology and as an organization dedicated to addressing and communicating these issues.

Members expressed a high level of satisfaction with the briefing and requested that others be held in the future.

Editor's note: Dr. Jamie Dinkelacker chaired the workshop. He extends special thanks to Jane Nikkel and Chip Morningstar for their coordination and volunteer efforts.

Foresight Update 15 - Table of Contents


Recent Events

Ralph Merkle has lectured on nanotechnology and/or the related topic of reversible computation at Stanford Linear Accelerator, Xerox PARC, Physics of Computation Workshop, IBM Yorktown, Interval Research, among others. He was also interviewed on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" program.

Eric Drexler has lectured at the W. Alton Jones Foundation, the Pentagon, and brought a nanotechnology perspective to an Office of Technology Assessment Workshop on international security issues.

Markus Krummenacker lectured on nanotechnology at the University of Zurich. Gregory Fahy spoke on medical nanotechnology at the US Pharmacopeial Convention in September. Kathleen Shatter lectured on nanotechnology at an environmental conference in Corsica in August.

Due to lack of space in this issue, coverage of media articles will be postponed. Briefly, nanotechnology has been discussed in a myriad publications including Time, Science News, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, and Los Angeles Daily Journal.

Foresight Update 15 - Table of Contents


Two Foresight Nanotechnology Conference Proceedings

Proceedings volumes are now available for Foresight's first two technical conferences, the first from MIT Press and the second from the journal Nanotechnology, published by the Institute of Physics.

Nanotechnology: Research and Perspectives, ed. BC Crandall and James Lewis, MIT Press, 1992, 390 pp., hardcover $39.95.

Proceedings from the First Foresight Conference on Nanotechnology--the first international technical conference held on the topic--were issued in December 1992. Edited by BC Crandall and James Lewis, the volume is heavily illustrated, and gives a good overview of the various fields contributing to molecular nanotechnology development. MIT Press editor Terry Ehling reports that the book is doing well in early sales. Foresight plans to make this book available by mail order; meanwhile it can be ordered using Visa or MasterCard from MIT Press at telephone 800-356-0343 or fax 617-625-6660.

[Editor's note: See Foresight Book Order Form.]

Papers included are:

  • "Overview and Introduction" by K. Eric Drexler
  • "Atomic Imaging and Positioning" by John Foster
  • "Design of Self-Assembling Molecular Systems: Electrostatic Structural Enforcement in Low-Dimensional Molecular Solids" by Michael D. Ward
  • "Molecular Engineering in Japan: Progress toward Nanotechnology" by Hiroyuki Sasabe
  • "Strategies for Molecular Systems Engineering" by K. Eric Drexler
  • "Molecular Electronics" by Robert Birge
  • "Quantum Transistors and Integrated Circuits" by Frederico Capasso
  • "Fundamental Physical Constraints on the Computational Process" by Norman Margolus
  • "Nanotechnology from a Micromachinist's Point of View" by Joseph Mallon
  • "What Major Problems Need to Be Overcome to Design and Build Molecular Systems?" Panel Discussion: Drexler, Foster, Handel, Merkle, and Ward
  • "Possible Medical Applications of Nanotechnology: Hints from the Field of Aging Research" by Gregory Fahy
  • "The Future of Computation" by Bill Joy
  • "Economic Consequences of New Technologies" by Gordon Tullock
  • "The Risks of Nanotechnology" by Ralph Merkle
  • "Fears and Hopes of an Environmentalist for Nanotechnology" by Lester W. Milbrath
  • "The Weapon of Openness" by Arthur Kantrowitz
  • "What Public Policy Pitfalls Can Be Avoided in the Development and Regulation of Nanotechnology?" Panel Discussion: Drexler, Kantrowitz, Merkle, Milbrath, Schwartz, and Tullock
  • Appendix A "Machines of Inner Space" by K. Eric Drexler
  • Appendix B "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom" by Richard Feynman

Toward Molecular Control: Second Foresight Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology

Fifteen papers from this conference comprise a double issue of the journal Nanotechnology, published by the Institute of Physics. To order this double issue, write or fax to: IOP Publishing Ltd., Customer Service, Techno House, Redcliffe Way, Bristol BS1 6NX, England; fax 44-272-294-318. Request the two issues (Volume 2, numbers 3 and 4) in the bound-together version if still available. The cost is $134 or Ł69, payable by Visa, check, or bank transfer.

Papers included are:

  • "Molecular directions in nanotechnology" by K.E. Drexler
  • "Tip-sample interactions in atomic force microscopy: I. Modulating adhesion between silicon nitride and glass" by J.H. Hoh, J.P. Revel and P.K. Hansma
  • "The bacterial rotary motor" by D.F. Blair
  • "Computational nanotechnology" by R.C. Merkle
  • "A combinatorial optimization approach to molecular design" by J.P. Knight and G.J. McRae
  • "The use of branched DNA for nanoscale fabrication" by N.C. Seeman
  • "Development of molecular patterning and immobilization techniques for scanning tunnelling microscopy and atomic force microscopy" by P. Connolly, J. Cooper, G.R. Moores, J. Shen and G. Thompson
  • "Self-organizing molecular photonic structures based on functionalized synthetic nucleic acid (DNA) polymers" by M.J. Heller and R.H. Tullis
  • "Biological applications of scanning tunnelling microscopy: novel software algorithms for the display, manipulation and interpretation of STM data" by P.M. Williams, M.C. Davies, D.E. Jackson, C.J. Roberts, S.J.B. Tendler and M.J. Wilkins
  • "A study of nanostructure assemblies and guest-host interactions in sodium zeolite--Y using 23Na double-rotation NMR" by R. Jelinek, A. Pines, S. Özkar and G.A. Ozin
  • "Theoretical studies of a hydrogen abstraction tool for nanotechnology" by C.B. Musgrave, J.K. Perry, R.C. Merkle and W.A. Goddard III
  • "Two-dimensional (glyco)protein crystals as patterning elements for the controlled immobilization of functional molecules" by D. Pum, M. Sára, P. Messner and U.B. Sleytr
  • "Self-assembly approach to protein design" by M. Lieberman, M. Tabet, D. Tahmassebi, Jingli Zhang and T. Sasaki
  • "Polymerization of immunoglobulin domains: a model system for the development of facilitated macromolecular assembly" by F.J. Stevens and E.A. Myatt
  • "Cyanobiphenyl-group alignment observed by a scanning tunneling microscope" by H. Nejoh, D.P.E. Smith and M. Aono

Foresight Update 15 - Table of Contents


New Advisors Named

Dr. James Dinkelacker, formerly Executive Director of Foresight and now Vice President of Marketing at the American Information Exchange, has joined the Foresight Board of Advisors. Chris Peterson explained, "While Jamie's day-to-day input will be missed, Foresight will have his ongoing advice and assistance in management, communications, marketing, and research. We wish him success at AMIX and in all his future projects, and we look forward to his ongoing participation in the Foresight effort."

Four new members have been added to the Advisory Board of the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing:

  • Ted Kaehler, computer scientist with Apple Computer and Board member of the Center for Constitutional Issues in Technology,
  • Dr. Michael Kelly, Consulting Professor with Stanford's Department of Materials Science and Engineering,
  • Ed Niehaus, senior partner of Niehaus Ryan Haller Public Relations and former President of Software Entrepreneurs Forum, and
  • Hardin Tibbs, an expert in strategic management of technology at Global Business Network, a research and consulting firm specializing in scenario planning and long range strategy development.

Kathleen Shatter, IMM's Executive Director, explains: "With IMM's expanding goals, we needed to bring on additional talent that can help make this new research institute happen. Each of our new advisors brings a new and valuable perspective to the project of growing IMM."

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From Foresight Update 15, originally published 15 February 1993.

Foresight thanks Dave Kilbridge for converting Update 15 to html for this web page.


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