Posts by WWARE

    Seconded! Thanks, Jim, for doing this.

    BTW, Jim, is there a setting that shows me all the posts in a thread even if I've already seen them? In these days of pretty high bandwidth, I'd rather have all the context of a discussion than minimize network traffic.

    Never mind, found it, it's the "All discussions" option to the left of the GO! button in the left sidebar.

    Resistance is futile. Capacitance is efficacious.

    I think these things are getting close to technically feasible today, but I don't think (in spite of the existence of the Foresight Grand Prize) anybody in a position to do it is looking at it as an important goal to pursue. A few possible obstacles occur to me off the top of my head.

    • Maybe the amount (US$250000) is just not enough to attract the requisite talent.
    • Maybe the people able to do this are busy with other things, and consider this a pointless diversion from more important goals.
    • Maybe there just hasn't been enough publicity for the Grand Prize to be well enough known.

    All these could be addressed by growing the amount every year. The money could be put into an index fund, and Foresight could solicit yearly donations from well-heeled donors (and pittances from us in the peanut gallery).

    The prize does state size limits (100 nm cube for the arm, 50 nm cube for the adder) and I haven't thought hard about whether these are close to what could be accomplished with, say, a reasonable DNA origami design. It would be good to take a few steps toward the prize by first doing some back-of-the-envelope feasibility calculations like that, and then if that looks good, starting to propose structures in broad strokes. There is an impressive-looking open source CAD package for 3D origami available.

    == Resistance is futile. Capacitance is efficacious. ==

    I've been seeing this a few times on Facebook, a machine developed by Martin Burke et al at UIUC which is supposed to greatly simplify synthesis of a wide variety of small molecules (hype, not so hype, also not so hype). It appears to be based on something called Suzuki-Miyaura cross-coupling, which if I understand it, uses palladium as a catalyst for joining almost anything to almost anything else. More pretty chemistry stick figures here and here. I'm not a chemist by any means but would appreciate any further elucidation anybody cares to supply.

    The last nanotech conference I went to was almost a decade ago so I feel a bit out of touch with developments, but the two really promising fronts at that time seemed to be Chris Schafmeister's "molecular Lego" building blocks, which were small rigid molecules with (iirc) a pretty standardized set of bonding interfaces with one another, and Paul Rothemund's work on DNA origami, which has been recently used in cancer treatment. DNA origami has led to some interesting developments, but after ten years I'm a little surprised that neither of these fronts has yielded more dramatic advances than we see around us today.

    Back in the old days we used to hear complaints that software wasn't advancing quickly enough. These days there seems to be plenty of progress in software, although most of it seems narrowly focused on either web applications or the internet of things.

    So just being curious, was I over-optimistic in my assessment of the work of Schafmeister and Rothemund, or are we lagging in design software? And is Burke's work as revolutionary as some of the hype is making it out to be? When am I finally going to get my respirocytes and utility fog?

    == Resistance is futile. Capacitance is efficacious. ==