Ross A. Finlayson (
Wed, 14 Apr 1999 07:23:39 -0400

Anders Sandberg wrote:

> "Ross A. Finlayson" <> writes:
> > Silicon possesses very similar qualities to carbon in terms of electron
> > stability, and it would be likely that, for example, buckyballs and nanotubes
> > could be made from silicon, as well as higher level structures like
> > diamondoid structural building materials.
> Isn't the Si-Si bond weaker than the C-C bond? The silicon fullerenes
> doesn't have to be stable. I can't recall if silicon even can form
> something like graphite sheets.
> --
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
> GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

I'm not sure about silicon structures and their varieties in relation to carbon diamondoids and graphites. There is used silicon for a variety of computer chips, so it can be seen to have certain desirable structural qualities. Silicon is replaceable for carbon in terms of its electron orbitals and oxidation states. Other similar elements in terms of electron orbitals are germanium, tin, and lead, except those are metals. Pure, error-free, silicate crystal lattices might not be the best structural building material, but they and any element will be useful in its place. There can be a diamond form of silicon like carbon, presumably with similar physical properties.

In regards to atomic transmutation and its attainability, we might note that whereas nanotechnology has come into consideration in the last twenty years or so, atomic level transmutation of hydrogen to helium (fusion) in the sun and stars has been occurring approximately forever. Radioactive elements transmute into other ones naturally as they emit their alpha, beta, and gamma particles. Atomic fission has been performed regularly to generate power for generations.

In terms of working around the nuclear forces to gain some form of atomic transmutation, at the ideal point it would be so efficient that that recombination of matter into any form could power itself, and miniscule transformation of matter into energy could power anything else.

Anyways, once we get assemblers to construct simple building materials, then we launch them to the Moon where under the guidance of us and computers they make structures and launch facilities and terraform. Here on Earth, as is noted in K. Eric Drexler's _Engines of Creation_ and generally, nano-assemblers would offer incredible advantages. An atomic assembler would eliminate any form of basic physical resource scarcity except for scarce atomic assemblers, any element could be made from anything.

Back to the topic of Nanotechnology and Internet propagated acronyms, as far as I know (AFAIK), general nano-assemblers are a good fifty years away at least. Then again, I am in no way a subject expert on nano-technology, so maybe they are here and in use today. As specialized and then generalized nano-materials, nano-machines, and nano-assemblers do become available and economical, they will be in many ways the next step of absolute miniaturization which has already taken huge leaps and bounds this century.

I think one issue with simulating materials for fabrication using computers and whatnot is that the higher the precision, the more will have to be simulated, so what will happen is templates for a material will be generated and then that template for nano-scale construction will be used as a material within a higher level simulation, removing the nano-scale assembly details from the real-world scale construction simulation.

Ross F.

Ross Andrew Finlayson
"C is the speed of light."