NanoScam: The skullduggery, omitted history, and disinformation behind the public mythology of nanotech.

Much of the early history of pioneers of the road to nanotech has yet to be comprehensively written up, and what is available has been almost completely overshadowed by widely circulated historical misconceptions and mythology. Why does this matter? People ignorant of technical history are often surprisingly gullible for gurus and promoters, especially with respect to evaluating the most likely technology difficulties, development paths, and time frames. As Richard Feynman noted, “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.”

This article isn't ready yet. Once you've decisively won, you tend to be preoccupied with other pending projects. Maybe someone else will get around to writing up these intriguing bits of “recent ancient history” (von Neumann’s phrase).

In the mean time....



After the above was written, William Atkinson released the book “Nanocosm: The Big Change That's Coming from the Very Small”. It presents an engaging broad-ranging survey of current nanotech research and development, and of the people doing it. It does an engaging and delightful job at these things, and I highly recommend it. It also deals with some of the nano-cult’s reality distortion issues, with the aim of helping the public and venture capitalists recognize futuristic hype merchants, self-promotional spin doctoring, and general vaporware mongering. This too is very commendable, and is long overdue. Few people are willing to take on popular skunks, especially if they have enormous formal and informal PR spin machines at their disposal. William Atkinson deserves considerable credit for doing so, despite the flood of abuse and disinformation that is likely to follow.


((Minor supplementary note: A few things that Atkinson declares to be impossible I would somewhat more cautiously characterize as developments that are actually so far off in the future (and which will differ enough in actual implementation) as to be nearly totally irrelevant to actually developing nanotech—especially when compared to the enormous amount and range of preceding developments, and the correspondingly enormous implications of such prodigious prior capabilities. Likewise, I think it will eventually be possible (in the very distant future) to revive present-day “corpsicles”, however they will be like mental zombies produced by way too many hours of over-zealous electroshock. Repairing cellular degradation following prior brain death (and subsequent extremely severe cellular freezing damage) could (at best) yield (in effect) perfectly healthy yet mentally clueless clones because the prior chemical and mechanical scrambling processes precludes adequately restoring prior conditions. Until and unless preservation technology makes huge advances, not even 22nd century nanotech can save us. Overall I heartily agree with Atkinson that the nano-cult is grossly wrong about these issues; I just differ somewhat in the reasons why.))