Tag Archives: bucky balls

Interstellar fullerenes

This work from Russia on fullerenes (also known as buckministerfullerenes, C60, and/or buckyballs) is quite interesting and dates back more than a year. I’m not sure why the work is being publicized now but nanotechnology and interstellar space is not covered here often enough so, here goes, (from a January 29, 2018 Kazan Federal University press release (also on EurekAlert), Note: Links have been removed,

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

C60+ – looking for the bucky-ball in interstellar space by G. A. Galazutdinov, V. V. Shimansky, A. Bondar, G. Valyavin, J. Krełowski. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 465, Issue 4, 11 March 2017, Pages 3956–3964, https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stw2948 Published: 22 December 2016

This paper is behind a paywall.

h/t January 29, 2018 news item on Nanowerk

Nanoremediation techniques from Iran and from South Carolina

Researchers in Iran have announced a method of removing mercury from water. From the Aug. 6, 2012 news item on Nanowerk,

A research team from Martyr Chamran University of Ahvaz [Iran] succeeded in the elimination of mercury from aqueous media by using 2-mercaptobenzothiazole and by coating it on the magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles. Removal of mercury from water at lower concentrations was carried out by using the same compound successfully.

… According to the results of the experiments, the nano adsorbent is able to rapidly adsorb mercury at low concentrations. It causes the amount of mercury remaining in the environment to be less than the amount announced by WHO.

You can find the study (Fast and efficient removal of mercury from water samples using magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles modified with 2-mercaptobenzothiazole) behind a paywall in the Journal of Hazardous Materials.

Moving onto the work at Clemson University in South Carolina (US), researchers there have developed a dendrimer-fullerenol which could be used for cleaning up the environment and/or drug delivery. From the Aug. 6, 2012 news item on Nanowerk (Note: This seems to have been written by the study’s lead author, Priyanka Bhattacharya),

Our recent paper, “Dendrimer-fullerenol soft-condensed nanoassembly” [behind a paywall] published in The Journal of Physical Chemistry C, showed how the soft nanomaterial dendrimer can be used to remediate the environment from potentially toxic nanomaterials. Here, we used fullerenol – a 60 carbon molecule in the shape of a buckyball and functionalized with hydroxyl groups – as a model system. Such an assembly also has implications for drug delivery.

Here’s an image the researchers included with their published study,

Here we show that poly(amidoamine) (PAMAM) dendrimers of both generations 1 (G1) and 4 (G4) can host 1 fullerenol per 2 dendrimer primary amines as evidenced by isothermal titration calorimetry, dynamic light scattering, and spectrofluorometry. (downloaded from http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jp3036692)

Here’s a little more about the dendrimers,

Dendrimers are highly branched, polymeric macromolecules with a high degree of surface functionalities. Their branching determines their generation number (G) – the higher the generation, the greater the degree of surface functionalities. We used both G1 and G4 poly(amidoamine) (PAMAM) dendrimers and found that both these dendrimers hosted one fullerenol per primary amine on the dendrimer surfaces. However, G4 PAMAM dendrimers hosted fullerenols 40 times better than G1, simply because of their higher degree of surface functionalities. Based on our findings, we recommended proper loading capacities of fullerenols for G1 and G4 dendrimers in drug delivery and environmental remediation.

You can also find this news item in an Aug. 6, 2012 postingfeaturing images of the lead author (Priyanka Bhattacharya is a Ph.D. student at Clemson University’s College of Engineering and Science) on the ScienceCodex website,

Our group, led by my advisor Dr. Pu-Chun Ke and funded by the National Science Foundation, has delved into a crucial topic of frontier research termed “nanoparticle-protein corona”. In short, nanoparticles do not interact directly with living systems but are often coated with biological fluids in the form of a protein corona. Another direction in our group, through collaboration between Dr. Ke and Dr. David Ladner in Clemson’s Department of Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences and funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is to employ dendritic polymers for remediating oil spills.

(It’s unusual to see a news release written in the first person.)

I’m glad to see more research about exploiting nanotechnology for environmental cleanups.

Rice University’s big nano convo

Rice University’s 25th anniversary celebration of the discovery of buckminster fullerenes (noted previously in my May 13 2010 posting) is a conference while will be hosting a contingent of carbon nanotube specialists and a panel discussion featuring the team that discovered the buckminsterfullerene (buckyball). From the news item on physorg.com,

The Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology, the world’s first nanotechnology center when it opened in 1991, will bring top scientists to Rice for the Buckyball Discovery Conference, a three-day event that begins Oct. 11 and will take a comprehensive look at the past, present and future of nanotechnology.

An interactive discussion about the discovery of the buckyball moderated by Tom Tritton, president of the Chemical Heritage Foundation, will kick off the event. Nobel laureates Robert Curl, Rice’s University Professor Emeritus and Kenneth S. Pitzer-Schlumberger Professor Emeritus of Natural Sciences; Sir Harold Kroto, a professor at the University of Sussex at the time of the find and now at Florida State University; and former Rice graduate students James Heath and Sean O’Brien will reminisce about their groundbreaking discovery and the many years they spent defending it, what their work has meant for science and where they see nanotechnology headed. They will talk about working with their Rice colleague and fellow laureate, the late Rick Smalley, and answer audience questions.

Eight of the world’s renowned carbon nanotechnologists will discuss current research and development as well as the future of nanotechnology. They include Phaedon Avouris, Marvin Cohen, Hongjie Dai, Millie Dresselhaus, Morinobu Endo, Andre Geim, Andreas Hirsch and Donald Huffman. Breakout sessions will delve into applications of nanotechnology and the obstacles it faces in areas that include environmental health and safety, energy, health, aerospace and materials.

The conference doesn’t take place until Oct. 10-13, 2010. Registration is free (but you are responsible for your travel, accommodation, and food).

Buckyballs in space

Astronomers are excited! They thought they’d found buckyballs (buckminster fullerenes) in some stars about 15 years ago but that finding still hasn’t been confirmed with laboratory data. Meanwhile, a new team including Jan Cami from the University of Western Ontario (Canada) and the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mountainview, California recently made an unexpected discovery—buckyballs—while examining a planetary nebula (remains of a star shedding its outer layer of gas and dust as it ages). According to the news item on physorg.com,

“We found what are now the largest molecules known to exist in space,” said astronomer Jan Cami of the University of Western Ontario, Canada, and the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif. “We are particularly excited because they have unique properties that make them important players for all sorts of physical and chemical processes going on in space.” Cami has authored a paper about the discovery that will appear online Thursday [July 29, 2010?] in the journal Science.

Buckyballs are made of 60 carbon atoms arranged in three-dimensional, spherical structures. Their alternating patterns of hexagons and pentagons match a typical black-and-white soccer ball. The research team also found the more elongated relative of buckyballs, known as C70, for the first time in space. These molecules consist of 70 carbon atoms and are shaped more like an oval rugby ball. Both types of molecules belong to a class known officially as buckminsterfullerenes, or fullerenes.

You can also find the news item at Nanowerk where an alternative video clip (featuring an interview with Jan Cami discussing buckyballs) to the the silent animation featuring buckyballs and their movement  available on the physorg.com site.

The folks at Rice University must be thrilled since proof of the existence of buckyballs on this planet is strongly associated with discoveries made by scientists at Rice (my May 13, 2010 posting provides a fuller picture of some of the twists and turns associated with that science story).

Announcing nanoAlberta’s Nanotechnology Asset Map

Alberta’s Nanotechnology Asset Map (developed by nanoAlberta a business unit of Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures) has been fully launched via two media channels. The first is an interactive Google Map (here) and the second is a print/pdf booklet listing companies and researchers as well as featuring articles about funding, research institutions, and research foci (focuses) in Alberta.

Launched at an event which took place recently at the Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures (AITF) building, 100 copies of the map were distributed and a  five-foot-high buckyball was specially designed (donated by an American engineer, Paul Hildebrandt) to be massive in scale, built upon the basic carbon molecule format, and yet achieve both complexity and simplicity of design. The sculpture was delivered as 10,800 small coloured sticks and connector balls. Tech Futures staff and children, the Scouts group, and engineer volunteers from NAIT (Northern Alberta Institute of Technology) spent over 100 man-hours assembling the sticks and balls into its pattern.

AITF nanoAlberta Executive Director Dan Djukich unveiling the sculpture.

“This buckyball is representative of the connections that exist within Alberta’s nano community,” [Dan] Djukich [AITF nanoAlberta Executive Director] explained at the reception. “In the same way this elaborate buckyball shows an intricate yet organized web of connections, this new Nanotechnology Asset Map helps to connect the dots within our nano community.”

More about the booklet tomorrow.

Year of Nano at Rice University

I mentioned the Year of Nano 25th anniversary celebration of the buckminsterfullerene (also known as a C60 fullerene or bucky ball) at Rice University in a Feb. 8, 2010 posting (it’s towards the bottom) and wasn’t really expecting to hear more about it until the technical symposium in October 2010. Yesterday, the folks at Rice University sent out a news release that manages to herald both the Year of Nano and the 50th anniversary of the laser. From the news release (titled, From beams to bucky balls),

Twenty-five years after the laser beam came to be, a historic meeting took place at Rice University that led to the discovery of the buckminsterfullerene, the carbon 60 molecule for which two Rice scientists won the Nobel Prize.

Now that the buckyball is celebrating its own 25th anniversary, it’s worth noting that one wouldn’t have happened without the other.

During the Year of Nano, Rice will honor Nobel laureates Robert Curl and the late Richard Smalley, their research colleague and co-laureate, Sir Harold Kroto, then of the University of Sussex, and former graduate students James Heath and Sean O’Brien with a series of events culminating in an Oct. 11-13 symposium at Rice on nanotechnology’s past, present and future.

But Curl happily throws a share of the credit to another Rice professor, Frank Tittel, a laser pioneer whose work continues to break new ground in chemical sensing.

Fifty years ago this Sunday, on May 16, 1960, Hughes Research scientist Theodore Maiman fired off the first laser beam from a small ruby rod, a camera flashlamp and a power supply.

Not long after the news was reported in the New York Times, Tittel, now Rice’s J.S. Abercrombie Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering, was asked by his new bosses at General Electric to recreate Maiman’s device. “That used brute force,” Tittel said of his first laser, later donated to the Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia. “Now we’re more sophisticated.”

Tittel joined Rice in 1967 and quickly built the first tunable laser in Texas, used in spectroscopy and sensing devices. He also formed collaborations with other professors, including Curl, who is now Rice’s University Professor Emeritus and Kenneth S. Pitzer-Schlumberger Professor Emeritus of Natural Sciences.

The laser attracted a lot of interest and was used to investigate a number of phenomena including Kroto’s chief interest in 1985, the “abundance of carbon molecules in interstellar clouds,”

…  The experiments in late 1985 showed an abundance of carbon 60, which set the scientists racing to figure out what such a molecule would look like. “We had this problem that this (carbon cluster) was a little strong, and it looked like there was something there,” Curl said, noting that the team pursued the interstellar question no further. “The discovery of the fullerenes drew all our attention.”

Smalley was the first to find the solution by assembling a paper model of hexagons and pentagons that turned out to be identical to a soccer ball. (In a webcast available here, Curl described how the team came up with the key to the solution over enchiladas at a Houston diner.)

The webcast with Curl is titled, How Astrophysical Interests Accidentally Led to Advances in Carbon Chemistry. I think what’s so fascinating is that Richard Smalley wasn’t that interested in Kroto’s question but it was that question that led to their great discovery. This story reminded me of a comment from Dr. J. Storrs Hall that I quoted in one of my recent posts (scroll down to find the passage), “As Dr. Hall aptly noted it’s not dispassionate calculations but ‘serendipity: the way science always works’.”

Peter Julian interview on tabling the first nanotechnology bill in Canada’s parliament (part 1 of 3); musings on oil-rich regions and nanotechnology

In mid-March 2010, Member of Parliament, Peter Julian, NDP (New Democrat Party) tabled the first Canadian bill (ETA June 22, 2010: Bill C-494) to regulate nanotechnology. Kudos to him for bringing nanotechnology into a national public forum and hopefully inspiring some discussion and debate.

Mr. Julian kindly agreed (thank you!) to answer some e-mail interview questions which I will be posting in a 3-part interview starting today where he answers questions about why he tabled the bill, the involvement of the NDP’s science shadow minister, and the state of the NDP’s science policy.

For anyone who’s not familiar with Mr. Julian, I got some biographical information from his constituency website,

Peter Julian

Member of Parliament, Burnaby–New Westminster
International Trade
Asia-Pacific Gateway
Deputy Critic Fisheries (West Coast Fisheries)
2010 Olympics

  • Has been the most active MP from Western Canada so far in the 40th Parliament.
  • First elected Member of Parliament for Burnaby-New Westminster in 2004 (by a narrow margin of 300 votes), and re-elected in 2006 (by 4,000 votes) and again in 2008 (by 7,000 votes).
  • Served as Critic on International Trade, Transportation, Persons with Disabilities, Gateways and the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in 39th Parliament; Critic on International Trade, the Treasury Board, Transportation and Persons with Disabilities in 38th Parliament.
  • Ranked fifth of 308 MPs in crafting of Private Member’s legislation in 39th Parliament including tougher drunk driving laws and eliminating toxic substances found in fire retardants.
  • Most active rookie in the House of Commons in the 38th Parliament.
  • Prominent critic of Harper Conservatives’ softwood lumber sellout. Called “the Iron Man” by CTV’s David Akin for determination to stop the sellout.
  • Previously a financial administrator, community activist and manual labourer. Served as National Executive Director of Council of Canadians – (founding member), former Executive Director of the Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (WIDHH).
  • Instrumental in building the British Columbia Disability Employment Network
  • Former National Policy Coordinator and Assistant and Acting Federal Secretary of the New Democratic Party of Canada.

Now on to the interview:

What was the impetus for including nanotechnology as part of this bill? i.e. was there some specific incident or has this been an ongoing concern?

The major forces for including my bill on nanotechnology were; the concerns raised by constituents, the progressive work done by the European Union (including the EU Council Directive on cosmetic products and the January 2010 report of the UK’s House of Lords Science and Technology Committee Report). In contrast Canada has made minimal progress towards ensuring that nanotechnology discoveries are safely introduced into the marketplace, environment, and to Canadians.

The exponential increase in applications and products using this type of technology makes updating the regulatory framework necessary. A regulatory vacuum cannot persist if the commercial and societal promises of nanotechnologies are to be fulfilled. There are trade and safety implications involved.

A modernized regulatory framework, based on precaution given the rapid evolution of nanotechnologies, would help ensure that Canadians will be protected from unintended effects. At the same time, it would enable Canadian businesses to enjoy a predictable regulatory environment for investment and innovation, for nanotechnology is a key driver in Canada’s continued growth via sustainable development.

The following are the key components of Bill C-494:

A) A definition of Nanotechnology definition based on “nanometre scale” (1-1000nm),

B) Prescribed Government of Canada research and studies, with the precautionary principle providing direction for a ‘life-cycle’ approach to nanotechnology, and,

C) A Nanotechnology Inventory established and published.

I believe that the definition contained in Bill C-494 constitutes the first legislative body effort since UK House of Lords Committee recommended a similar nanometre scale definition.

Was the NDP’s science shadow minister involved in this bill? What was Jim Malloway’s contribution?

As you may know, private members bills are at the initiative of individual MPs. I have consulted with the NDP Environment and Health critics, in addition to our own research, library of Parliament support, and input from civil society. Jim Malloway and the NDP caucus support the principle of Bill C-494 and share the view that Nanotechnologies present a tremendous opportunity for Canada and that is why safety must be ensured.

Is there going to be more interest in science policy from the NDP?

The NDP is focused on securing sound foundations for science policy by making sure the government has enough resources to support the development of science while monitoring the consequences. We are also focused on ensuring that funding for post secondary education is appropriate and the resources and knowhow of the public sector are not trivialized and outsourced. The civil service needs a critical mass of expertise to support a healthy science development policy. We must encourage and preserve independent research at the university level and make sure that it is not subservient to corporate funding. Science must be allowed to evolve regardless of the commercial aspect. Our small caucus is focused on helping create these conditions where Canadian science and its applications can flourish in both private and not-for-profit spheres, with appropriate regulatory safeguards.

Tomorrow: Mr. Julian answers questions about the ‘precautionary principle’ and the research that supports his bill.

Peter Julian interview Part 2, Part 3, Comments: Nano Ontario, Comments: nanoAlberta

Oil-rich regions and nano

I had a few idle thoughts on seeing a notice on Nanowerk in mid-March that Iran has published a national nanotechnology standard. From the notice on Nanowerk,

The committee of Iranian nanotechnology standardization chose 49 main words in nanotechnology by means of ISO, BSI, and ASTM published standards and translated their definitions into Persian in cooperation with a team from Persian Language and Literature Academy.

The words like nanotechnology, nanomaterials, nanoparticle, nanoscale, nanotube, nanosystem etc have been defined in this standard.

(I did click on the link for the publication but unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be an English language version available.)

I find it interesting that there is so much activity on the nanotechnology front in Iran and other other oil-producing regions including Alberta (Canada) which hosts the National Institute for Nanotechnology and gets a great deal of funding from the Alberta provincial government. Texas, also known for its oil, hosts a leader in nanotechnology research, Rice University which is celebrating its 25th anniversary as the site where ‘bucky balls’ or buckminster fullerenes were first discovered. In Saudi Arabia, they opened KAUST (King Abdullah University for Science and Technology) in September 2009. While the ambitions range far beyond (the Saudis hope to establish a modern ‘House of Wisdom’) nanotechnology, its research is an important element in the overall scheme of things. I guess the reason that all these areas which are known for their oil production are so invested in nanotechnology is that they know time is running out and they need new ways to keep their economies afloat.

Miah and the Olympics; birth of the buckyball

Given that the Winter Olympics are due to open later this week in Vancouver (Canada), there is a  flurry of interest in gene doping and other means of enhancing athletic performance. (I’m mentioning this because developments in elite athletics find their way into consumer markets and because of my interest in human enhancement.) For example, the University of British Columbia (UBC) is hosting,

Sport, Ethics and Technology: Is High Performance Sport Inconsistent with Ideals and Ethics?

Date/time: Monday, February 8, 8 p.m.

Location: Chan Centre for the Performing Arts
University of British Columbia
6265 Crescent Road, Vancouver
For a map and closest parking, visit: www.maps.ubc.ca?130

As the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games approach, Olympic athletes will come under close public scrutiny.  New technology will offer unexpected advantages that will challenge the boundaries of what is considered a level playing field.

And given those challenges, how do we determine what is ethical and fair? These questions are explored with Richard Pound followed by a panel discussion with Jim Rupert, Beckie Scott and other participants.

*Richard Pound is a former Olympic swimmer, McGill Chancellor and World Anti-Doping Agency Chairman.

*Jim Rupert is an associate professor in the School of Human Kinetics at UBC. His research looks at future trends in doping and doping control as it pertains to genetics and “gene-doping.”

*Beckie Scott is a former Olympic cross-country ski racer who currently serves as a member of the IOC.

This event is one of five provocative dialogues presented by UBC’s Sport and Society series during February and March. Find details at: http://bit.ly/9LuMXO

Friday, Feb. 5, 2010, the lead article in Section B of The Vancouver Sun by Margaret Munro was (print version), Gene Doping; The latest way to boost performance. The article noted that Andy Miah, at the University of the West of Scotland, in contrast to Olivier Rabin and Theodore Friedmann, the experts (whose study was just published in the journal Science) quoted in the article, suggests that gene doping may be safer than current methods of enhancing performance.

I have mentioned Andy before (here in my series on human enhancement and here regarding a book he edited on art and the future). His response to the Rabin/Friedmann concerns is here. An abstract of Rabin and Friedmann’s article is available here but the full article is behind a paywall.

Andy was also featured in an article in The WestEnder (a Vancouver community newspaper) by Jackie Wong titled (in the print version), New-media [sic] centre seeks to democratize Olympic coverage. From the article,

“We can say that Vancouver 2010 is the first truly digital Olympic Games,” says Andy Miah, chair in Ethics and Emerging Technologies in the School of Media, Language, and Music at the University of the West of Scotland. Miah has been researching new media and the Olympics for 10 years, at six Olympic Games.

Andy has written an essay about new media and its role at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics at Huffington Post. From the essay,

…. perhaps the most interesting dimension of Vancouver’s media culture is the rise of three other media entities, the first of which is the W2 Centre on Hastings, led by Irwin Oostindie. W2 is a cultural and arts infrastructure, serving the independent sector. It will run an extensive programme of art, debate and cultural experiences, some of which will have buy in from the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC), while other elements will be more independent. To this end, W2 will serve as a bridge between the privileged participants and the critical commentators around Games time. For example, they will host the Legal Observers programme, headed up by the Pivot Legal Society and BC Civil Liberties Association, which will monitor the operations of Olympic security during Games time. It will also host a cultural collaboration between the London 2012 and Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiads, as part of the UK’s Abandon Normal Devices festival, led by England’s Northwest.

You can read more here.

I’ve now mentioned the two areas that Andy sees as the two major controversies from the Vancouver Olympics, doping and new media activism.

One final note on this, Andy will be bringing a team of about 10 students from his university in Scotland who will be blogging from this site, Culture@tO Vancouver 2010. I’m not sure what the start date will be, presumably Feb. 12, 2010 when the games open.

Bucky balls are the popular name for the buckminsterfullerene (aka fullerene). Named for Buckminster Fuller, the molecule resembles one of Fuller’s geodesic domes. (There’s a geodesic dome in Vancouver which houses our local science centre and during the Olympics it will be home to the Sochi [host for 2014 Olympics], Russia pavilion.) The fullerene was first discovered at Rice University in Texas and this year marks its 25th anniversary and what many describe as the birth of nanotechnology. In celebration, the university is hosting a technical symposium.  From the news item on Nanowerk,

On Oct. 11-13, the best minds in carbon nanotechnology will gather at Rice University for a technical symposium during the Year of Nano, a series of events at the university celebrating the 25th anniversary of nano’s big bang.

Hmmm … I may have gone a little ‘link happy’ today. Tomorrow I should be looking at nano sponges and patents. Later this week I expect to be posting my interview with Dr. Cheryl Geisler, the new dean for Simon Fraser University’s new Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology (FCAT).

UK science debate; nanotechnology narratives and Richard Feynman; buckyball game

After Friday’s posting about Canada’s political parties and their science policies (in most cases, a lack of) imagine my surprise on finding out that the UK has enjoyed a Jan. 13, 2010 debate on science (I believe there’s another one coming up  in March) featuring two shadow ministers and the current Minister for Science and Innovation.  It’s organized by the Campaign for Science and Engineering in the UK (CASE). Thanks to the Pasco Phronesis blog for pointing the way.

I have watched about 1/3 of the video for the debate and, as you’d expect, the politicians are carefully avoiding specifics, still they are discussing science policy. The focus in the bits I watched was on funding and the role of science in ensuring the UK’s future global competitiveness. You can go here to find the debate video and articles and blogs about it.

Coincidentally, the US President’s Office on Science and Technology Policy (Jan.20.10 correction: the report was released by the National Science Board) has recently (Jan.15.10) released the Science Engineering Indicators (Jan.20.10 correction: Science and Engineering Indicators 2010). From the news item on Science Daily,

“The data begin to tell a worrisome story,” said Kei Koizumi, assistant director for federal research and development (R&D)in the President’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Calling SEI 2010 a “State of the Union on science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” he noted that quot; [sic]U.S. dominance has eroded significantly.”

In terms of R&D expenditures as a share of economic output, while Japan has surpassed the U.S. for quite some time, South Korea is now in the lead–ahead of the U.S. and Japan. And why does this matter? Investment in R&D is a major driver of innovation, which builds on new knowledge and technologies, contributes to national competitiveness and furthers social welfare. R&D expenditures indicate the priority given to advancing science and technology (S&T) relative to other national goals.

On other fronts, I’ve come across more discussion about the nanotechnology ‘narrative’ and the anniversary of Richard Feynman’s 1959 talk, There’s plenty of room at the bottom (first mentioned in this blog here and here).  Richard Jones on his blog Soft Machines provides more depth to the story and suggests that the view which has K. Eric Drexler popularizing Feynman’s ideas (I had fallen into that camp) shortchanges Drexler. I must admit I did not recognize the importance of Drexler’s emphasis on biology in his vision in contrast with Feynman’s vision. You can read more about Richard Jones’ take on the matter here. I filched this link to yet another take on the matter (Feynman failed to recognize the importance of chemistry) from the comments section of Jones’ posting.

It can be tempting to view all this wrangling as a waste of time but somewhere in all of this is an attempt to make sense of how we understand and know things. Histories are important not because they tell us about the past but because they tell us how we got here.

I found this story and video about a Buckyball game on Boing Boing. For anyone who’s not familiar with buckyballs, go here.

Nano risk aftershocks?

Did the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) postpone the ‘Small is Beautiful: A European View of Nanotech Cosmetics and Safety presentation/webcast in the wake of the latest risk concerns i.e. long carbon nanotubes resembling asbestos and the possibility that bucky balls might be toxic? (Check my last couple of postings for more info. about the studies and some links.) They haven’t sent me a notice yet but maybe they don’t want to draw attention. I hope this doesn’t turn into a cancellation as I really wanted to hear what Dr. Andrew Maynard, PEN’s Science Advisor, and L’Oreal’s science representative,  Dr.Francis Quinn, have to say about nanotech risks and safety vis a vis cosmetics.  (L’Oreal has a lot of patents. One statistic I read suggested that they rank as sixth on the list of patent holders in the US. Here’s the info. in a news release announcing the talk which has been ‘postponed’.)