Why The Future Needs Nanotubes

Bill Joy, who incurred the wrath of the nanotech community in his 2000 Essay in Wired, “Why The Future Doesn’t Need Us” pops up with some further thoughts in an interview with New Scientist.

While much of the interview is taken up with worries about pandemics and postulations about Moore’s Law, one paragraph caught my eye.

“Another area that gives us hope is new materials. The world’s urban population is expected to more than double to 6 billion this century. We need clean water, energy and transportation. Carbon nanotubes have incredible properties, and can be applied to develop fuel cells, make clean water, or make ethanol for electric-powered transport. My company has dedicated $100 million to this.”

Right idea, wrong technology? While everyone from Richard Smalley onwards has pointed out that solutions to major global issues will be as a result of new or better materials, fullerenes don’t yet appear to provide any solutions at remotely economic rates.

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