New projects for the Software Control of Matter

The Ideas Factory on Software Control of Matter that has been dominating my life for the last couple of weeks has produced its outcome, and brief descriptions of the three projects that are likely to go forward for funding have been published on the Ideas Factory blog. There are two experimental projects, Software-controlled assembly of oligomers aims to build a machine to synthesise a controlled sequence of molecular building blocks from a sequence coded by a stretch of DNA, while Directed Reconfigurable Nanomachines aims to use the positional assembly of molecules and nanoscale building blocks to make prototype functional nanoscale devices. The Matter Compiler brings together computer science and computational chemistry and materials science to prototype the implementation of the engineering control and computer science aspects of directed molecular assembly. Between them, these projects will be initially funded to the tune of the £1.5 million set aside for the Ideas Factory. But there’s no doubt in my mind that the ideas generated during the week are worthy of a lot more support than this in the future.

5 thoughts on “New projects for the Software Control of Matter”

  1. Richard – I am reticent at time to put up multiple postings, my Scottish bred thrift intervenes. The Sandpit was an incredible adventure and your diligence in keeping everyone informed exemplary.
    What comes next will be the proof that the process works and provide a model for others to build on in the future. There too, are lessons to be learn on the nature of a National agenda dedicated to the advancement of scientific endeavor and with in that the nature of sovereignty. It was one of the lessons brought home to my crew this past week and something they have dwelt on a lot.
    The profound nature a vision shown by the chosen projects speaks well, not only for the potential of the technology, but also the nature of the community it serves. For this, I remain grateful for it has shown a group, recently referred to as ‘The Discards’ that there is a lot to be seen for the Crest of the Wave, metaphorical or not. – Thank You

  2. I’m curious about the 3-5 year time frame for finishing each of the engineering projects.
    Is the length of time required so that project members can educate eachother their own specialties, so they can educate themselves the projects intricacies, or is it an infrastructure shortfall?

  3. Phillip, project planning for ambitious science projects is, to say the least, an inexact art. The detailed proposals will have some form of gantt charts, but I regard these as essentially imaginative. I don’t think we’ve got any infrastructure problems. Rather, the difficulty is just that when you’re trying to do things this ambitious you simply start out by trying things out; it takes time either to get them to work or to decide they aren’t going to work and you need to try something different. Obviously, sensible project planning means doing as much as possible in parallel, but there’s bound to be some aspect of the problem that turns out to be the rate-determining step.

  4. Is it normal for the 3-7 diverse researchers who makes up a materials science research project to go outside their project team for advice when a problem is encountered? Is it ever necessary to pay an outside party for this consulting?

  5. It’s very common in the scientific world to ask people for advice, and people are usually fairly forthcoming about giving it. This is usually done informally, and the only payment would be a mention in the acknowledgements of the paper produced (for a small contribution) or co-authorship (for a larger one).

Comments are closed.