Oh where, oh where has my mechanosynthesis nanotechnology gone?

The Center for Responsible Technology (CRN), which can be described as a â''Think Tankâ'' on the subject of molecular nanotechnology, held a conference last week entitled: â''Challenges & Opportunities: The Future of Nano & Bio Technologiesâ''.

This broad title belied the fact that this conference was really focused on the prospects of molecular nanotechnology and manufacturing.

They assembled a wide spectrum of people to discuss the subject. And on the second day they had among the speakers:

â'¢ Dr. Ned Seeman of New York University to discuss his work on building structures with DNA

â'¢ Prof. Ralph Merkle at Georgia Tech Universityâ''s College of Computing to discuss mechanosynthesis

â'¢ Jim Von Ehr of Zyvex to discuss atomically precise manufacturing

CRN has made their presentations available for download. But what was really fascinating was the panel discussion and off-hand remarks noted in live blogging here.

There was much head scratching, finger pointing and exasperation at the fact that molecular manufacturing in the form of mechanosynthesis had not developed further over the last 20 years since it was first proposed by Eric Drexler.

Some of my favorite exchanges were when Chris Phoenix, Research Director of CRN, remarked that for MNT to progress, â''It will require some visionary that has many millions of dollars.â''

Unfortunately, he made this remark in the presence of Mr. Von Ehr, who after selling a company for $100 million devoted many of his resources to developing MNT through mechanosynthesis.

â''I had the money to do it, but couldnâ''t attract the right people. No amount of money will do it with an average person,â'' responded Von Ehr.

Mr. Von Ehr is being overly modest here. He is no average person.

But the classic line was left to Dr. Seeman, who after hearing a bit of this exchange, said, â''I donâ''t fit in this room. I am not a believer in anything.â''

Science is like that sometimes. Itâ''s not supposed to believe.

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