Re: SPACE: How hard IS it to get off Earth?

Eric Watt Forste (
Thu, 11 Nov 1999 16:45:26 -0800

Robert Bradbury writes:
> It goes without saying that if one is serious about these possible
> problems that these are things that should not be discussed in
> a public formum such as this. Whether or not the encryption &
> communications software exists today to take the discussion offline
> and keep it secure for the next 5-10 years, *is* something I'd
> like to hear comments on.

I'm startled to see you make this claim. I agree with Eric Drexler that keeping these discussions out of the public eye is far the more dangerous course of action. As I write, I'm quite sure that there are several research projects in foundational nanotechnology being carried on in secret by the governments you are trying to hide from. Keeping our research secret from the public (and thereby, unknown to other groups who might help us) is the best way to ensure that the military labs will be able to maintain their lead over labs that publish.

As for the problem of CAD tools for nanotechnology, I think we need a survey of existing molecular-modeling software, and a requirements document (or more simply, a delta) focusing on the differences between the requirements of a designer working on mechanical-phase nanotechnological designs and the requirements of a designer working in solution-phase on the development of new drugs, proteins, etc. The bulk of existing molecular-modeling packages are targetted to the requirements of the latter sort of designer. The key step in progressing to the next generation of molecular CAD software is clearly stating the requirements delta, and then designing and programming software toward that delta.

So we need a paper, preferably several papers, stating the requirements (in the software engineering sense) for molecular-nanotechnology CAD, and stating how they differ from the requirements to which the current crop of molecular modeling packages have been programmed.