Cult Science

My recent post about NanoCreationists – i.e the various open source transhumanists and trekkies who believe that because someone once wrote something in a book it must be true – got some of them rather hot under the collar (and foaming at the mouth judging by some of the spittle flecked missives we have received on the subject). Unfortunately we seem to be having the same debate with the same people year after year.

The late Richard Smalley had a similar problem with the Drexlerians, who constantly challenged him to debates over how many diamondoid flying nanobots could fit on the head of a pin and which particular bit of Drexlerian mathematics he thought was in error. Predictably, Rick decided that life was far too short to debate everything with anyone who demanded it, and reserved his time for more pressing issues.

I think most scientists would be happy to debate the merits or otherwise of this particular approach to nanotechnologies, once we see molecular nanotechnologies appearing in the pages of Nature and Science, but the current problem seems to be finding anyone able to have a rational scientific debate about the subject. One has to wonder why many of the technology’s most enthusiastic advocates are enthusiastic amateurs rather than scientists.

If some of the energy that goes into promoting and defending this vision of the future were put into the science then we might be in a better position to have that debate.

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Comments 1

  1. RedSevenOne

    Tim – After the ‘Clean Bomb’ post you became a ‘Hit Of Choice’ on the Big Board at Camp One. You are in the upper right column with Richard Jones, and the dozen or so Nano news services we subscribe to.

    The whole issue of Transhumanism, and Drexlerian theology, not to be confused with the very functional Fab@home technology, is that it makes Very Good Press. The graphics are wonderful and it looks ‘Real’. There were large and many long and loud discussions on the Camp One floor, sometimes to the point where our sound pressure sensor set off the alarm and with Pavlovian efficiency the crew disengaged and went for a walk until cooler heads prevailed.

    The way to counter this, and we are working on this very problem, is to have better visuals with more ‘Grab’ than the fantacists and show the reality as it is coming straight from the microscope stage. Our rudimentary yet developing AFM/STM and Structure Light Microscopes together with the expectation of having a PHENOM opto/electron microscope in the new year give us the capability of producing imagery while not rivaling those produced by the Big Labs, certainly very high on the ‘Grab’ scale.

    I suggest the best way to advance the information stream of this developing evolution, or revolution, in deference to Richard, is to present better information, better said. Our interest remains in advancing the general literacy, redirect the best that comes down the Highway of Light, augment it with some cool work of our own and leave the fantacists to dream and promise the ‘New Tomorrow’ which will ultimately lay fallow in the bright light generated by real progress.

    Best wishes as always, and if you ever need so ‘Seashore’ time, you are welcome to borrow ours.

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