Where are the nanocritics?

Chris Worth, a technology writer, posted to sci.nanotech seeking nanocritics. The following post is his summary of what he found.

From cs.rutgers.edu!nanotech Wed Apr 30 08:19:00 1997
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Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 08:06:16 PDT
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From: "Chris Worth"
Subject: Appraisal: where are the nanocritics?
To: nanotech@cs.rutgers.edu
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My search for nanocritics has been disappointing. But thanks anyway to
people from both ends of the MNT spectrum: Chris Peterson, Ralph Merkle,
Lew Phelps, Robert Rodgers and Joe Michael. Here's my appraisal:

*Nature*'s David Jones has not responded to Merkle's rebuttal of his
nanocritical book review, a rebuttal accusing Jones of not having read
*Nanosystems*. This would be a mortal insult to Jones, worthy of mention in
*Nature* - unless it was true. Therefore I discount Jones as a nanocritic.

Scientific American has somewhat left-handedly apologised for Gary Stix's
nanotechnology-article-cum-personal-attack. I discount SA as a nanocritic
too, in the same way as I discount the National Enquirer.

Brad Cox, whose work I'm rather fond of, apparently no longer maintains MNT
is impossible for humans to do. (Perhaps those darn cats of Mr
Scroedinger's got out of the way.)

Robert Rodgers is new to me; Joe Michael isn't. Can you tell me if you've
read and understood *Nanosystems* please guys? After all, the standard
reference work should be the first port of call for any nanocritic worth
his sodium chloride.

Joe, chemists such as John Mitchelson will doubtless flesh out your claims
about MNT assemblers needing "trillions" of times more energy than bio ATP
molecules. (Even if true, the tetrahedral covalences of MNT seem somewhat
more useful than hydrogen bonds. And I can see six other errors in your
nano2 paper on the Web.) But from a writer's point of view, your work is
unabashed advocacy - and advocacy has no place in science. It doesn't
matter what you *believe*. It matters what you *know*. So I can't put you
on my list of nanocritics.

Robert, you make the same point about the pro-MNT advocates on this
newsgroup. It's perfectly valid - again, advocacy has no place in science.
Yet you'll also find the sternest science here; get your chemistry wrong
and Krummenacker will eat you for lunch. I can't accept opposing advocacies
as nanocriticism or nanosupport; two wrongs don't make a right. While I
thank you for your opinions, I can't add you to my list of nanocritics

George Hazelrigg does micromachine work at NSF. Molecular nanotechnology is
not how HE'D do manufacturing - but as Eric Drexler maintains with his 556
pages of evidence, "Microtechnology is irrelevant to nanotechnology." His
work's fascinating, but it has no relevance to MNT.

Several other leads were false starts, answered by Ed Regis in *Nano* and
others. And it seems IBM is full of fervent nanobelievers if their internal
research newsletter is anything to go by. Unfortunately, much of this
counts as advocacy, so I'm not counting it as answers to any nanocritics
who may emerge after this post.

So regretfully I've found no nanocritic whose criticisms would survive a
flick through *Nanosystems*. I'm writing up nano research in Asia right
now; I hope to turn up a few nanoskeptics in the process. I'll report back
when I find them. Or not, as the case may be.

Chris Worth
Technology writer
cworth@pacific.net.sg or chris.worth@ogilvy.com