Radio Nanotechnology

The BBC’s spoken word radio station, Radio 4, is giving nanotechnology full billing at the moment (perhaps they are getting bored with the election). In addition to last night’s Reith Lecture, given by Lord Broers, the consumer program You and Yours covered the subject in some depth this lunchtime (listen to it here).

The piece included a long interview with Ann Dowling, chair of the Royal Society Report, a walkround the Science Museum exhibition – Nanotechnology: small science, big deal, an interview with Erik van der Linden from Wageningen Agricultural University in the Netherlands, talking about nanotechnology in food, mostly in the context of converting plant protein into meat substitutes, and encapsulation of nutriceuticals and flavours. There was, of course, a spokesman from Nanotex telling us all about stain resistant trousers.

What there was no mention at all of was molecular manufacturing. I rather suspect that this will be interpreted in some quarters as a conspiracy of silence.

7 thoughts on “Radio Nanotechnology”

  1. Oh, now give me a little more credit than that, Richard. I’ve never espoused any kind of “conspiracy theory.” That’s Tim Harper’s exaggerations rubbing off on you. And, here’s a shocker, I’ve never said that molecular manufacturing is possible or impossible. I’ve admitted many times that I’m not qualified to have an opinion on that. I have worked in the past with science writers who, after a time, fancy themselves scientists, too, just as a reporter who’s been on the police beat for a time starts to speak and write like a cop. I’m under no such illusions. I’ve merely concluded, based on what I’ve witnessed during the past four years — and even open admission in some cases — that the reason molecular manufacturing had been pushed to the margins in the United States had little to do with science and mostly to do with politics, money and fear of public backlash. I’ll let the scientists debate what is possible or not, and I’ll watch on the sidelines and scribble notes. I’m sorry, Richard, but when it comes to being blatantly political, you scientists are just as clumsy about it as any corrupt city politician I’ve covered in my career. The only difference is that you (I don’t mean you, personally) can sound incredibly smart while you lie and distort to get your way.

  2. Howard, how can you possibly say that you are not espousing a conspiracy theory at the same time as you say that scientists are lying and distorting to get their way? You said on your blog “Whether Smalley, Whitesides, Broers and others truly believe that molecular manufacturing is impossible is really beside the point. They are making these statements repeatedly because they believe the public must be soothed into believing that nanomaterials are being harnessed only for mankind’s benefit’ – how should I read that, if not as an allegation that these people are conspiring to distort the truth for dishonourable ends?

    Sometimes the simplest explanations are the best. Why not entertain the possibility that the reason that many scientists say that they don’t think that MNT can work is that that’s what they believe? I’ve spent a lot of time over the last 18 months advancing very careful arguments in support of my own position, Philip Moriarty has written pages in great detail about the practicalities of mechanosynthesis, and what we get in return from the pro-MNT community is a refusal to engage in real debate, insults and accusations of bad faith.

  3. “and what we get in return from the pro-MNT community is a refusal to engage in real debate, insults and accusations of bad faith. ”

    I think that you are slightly off base with that comment. There has been a real debate, one that I have found to be enlightening and that has caused me to change some of my opinions about MNT.

    And although there have been insults and accusations of bad faith from a few in the MNT community I have repeatedly and publicly stated how counter productive that type of behavior is.

    Although I do not speak for the MNT community, I want to again thank you and Philip for the time and effort you have taken in debating / discussing issues surrounding MNT.
    Your efforts have not been wasted.

  4. Jim, you’ve made your appreciation for open debate very clear and I’m really grateful to you for your support.

  5. Jim,

    I’d like to fully endorse Richard’s comment above. I very much appreciate your considered input to the MNT debate. Thanks!


  6. Speaking of which, Philip, have you discussed mechanosynthesis details with freitas as you mentioned back then?

  7. David,

    I’m waiting to hear from Rob Freitas. We agreed that our discussions would proceed at a much, much slower pace than that in the debate with Chris Phoenix.

    Best wishes and thanks for your interest,


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