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.