Re: SciFi: nanotech misunderstandings

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Tue Jan 15 2002 - 12:18:27 MST

On Tue, 15 Jan 2002, estropico > wrote:

> "...nanotechnology offer us a still more profound mastery of the material
> world.
> Imagine you could work at the smallest of scales: imagine if you could take
> apart atoms and rebuild them - turning lead into gold would be a trivial
> accomplishment - and imagine if you could build machines out of the
> components of atoms, from electrons and protons."
> [snip]
> And this from one of the best *hard* SF writers around!

Fabio, I think one can make a case for this to a certain extent.

Eric and Ralph do have one paper where the computing is done by
controlling the flow of electrons [1]. Likharev's Rapid Single-Flux-Quantum
Logic also works with "quanta" of single electrons I think. There
are many papers on single electron transistors [3]. Obviously
CERN has been manipulating beams of protons and anti-protons
for many years. Finally, LANL scientists have proposed breeder
reactors for dealing with the nuclear waste problem.

Machines are ultimately built out of electrons and protons.
And we *can* take apart atoms and put them togeather in different

But I would agree -- there is an odor of "sub-atomic" scale
engineering and *that* my fellow extropes is going to be
a tough nut to crack. Its sloppy if he is really suggesting that.


1. Merkle, R. C. & Drexler, K. E., Helical Logic, Nanotechnology 7:325-339 (1996).
2. Likharev, K. K., "Rapid Single-Flux-Quantum Logic", in: The New Superconducting
   Electronics, H. Weinstock and R. Ralston (eds.), Kluver, Dordrecht, pp. 423-452 (1993).

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