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You don’t hear much talk about it anymore, but one of the tacit promises held out by the field of nanotechnology has been ”material by design.” To solve a specific problem using this ”bottom-up” approach—say, creating a material engineered for efficient hydrogen storage—you design and create structures, atom by atom or molecule by molecule, that provide the functionality needed for a particular application.

But despite government task forces and lots of fascinating nanoscale research (like the beautiful model of the first 3-D assembly of magnetic and semiconducting nanoparticles shown here), material by design isn’t even on the horizon, certainly not for the production of bulk commercial materials. The goal of an ambitious business alliance launched in 1996, the Chemical Industry Vision2020 Technology Partnership, was to have designer materials in production by 2020. In fact, we are so far from that goal it’s not clear whether we will ever be able to overcome all the obstacles.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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