October 20, 2005

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: This article in Salon on military nanotechnology is pretty good, though it shares the arms-controllers’ rather narcissistic view that America’s actions determine whether there will be a nanotechnology arms race or not. In fact, I think the Chinese, to name just one nation, will move as fast as they can regardless of what we do. Nanotechnology — offering an opportunity to unsettle a one-sided ratio of military power overnight — is likely to appeal more to a challenger like China.

What’s more, our experience with biowarfare illustrates that arms-control approaches can actually make things worse. That’s not to understate the problem — just to note that solutions aren’t simple.

UPDATE: On a less scary — but significant — note, there’s this report:

Researchers at Rice University have created a “nanocar” measuring just 4 x 3 nanometers. It is slightly wider than a strand of DNA — a human hair is about 80,000 nanometers thick. The car has a chassis, axles and a pivoting suspension. The wheels are buckyballs, spheres of pure carbon containing 60 atoms apiece.

So much for those who claimed that such precise nanoscale structures weren’t possible.

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