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Mon Feb 25, 2013, 04:48 PM

Nanotechnology's lost history

Dr. K.Eric Drexler created the term nanotechnology to describe the concept of: "atomically precise machines building atomically precise products." This was before the concept was stolen by researchers who wanted to label their work as nanotechnology appropriated the term to describe "nanoscale particles, fibers, electronics, and the like." (Quotes are from Drexler's blog.)

Now, Eric Drexler's has a new book, to be released in May, and he has updated his blog, Metamodern, with a history of nanotech publications: Missing pieces: The lost history of how nanotechnology took hold in the world.

My new book, Radical Abundance, is now (at last!) nearing release. It reframes prospects for atomically precise manufacturing (APM), exploring timeless physical principles, surprising progress, and potential applications to global challenges that include economic development and climate change. Radical Abundance also looks back on the history of ideas that has shaped today’s perceptions of APM. Much of this history predates the rise of the web, however, and several key publications have been unavailable and hence effectively invisible.

To provide access to that 'lost history,' Drexler has posted PDF links for publications dating back to 1982 that introduced the concept of nanotechnology to audiences both popular and academic.

I've been following Eric Drexler's work on nanotechnology since hearing him discuss his work at a space development conference in 1986. Eric's interest in space predates his interest in nanotechnology; he worked with Dr. Gerard K.O'Neill in the 1970s, when Gerry O'Neill was first developing his space manufacturing concepts. He still holds patents on such space concepts as a high-performance light sail.

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LongTomH Feb 2013 OP
jsr Feb 2013 #1
LongTomH Feb 2013 #2
jsr Feb 2013 #3

Response to LongTomH (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 09:16 AM

1. Feynman talked about it in 1959

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Response to jsr (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 03:11 PM

2. Eric Drexler has given credit to Feynman on many occasions.

I think Eric reinvented the concept in the 1970s and applied the term nanotechnology.

Edited to add: One example is from The Whole Earth Review in 1989. One page 4, Eric mentioned Dr. Feynman's 1959 talk.

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Response to LongTomH (Reply #2)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 10:22 PM

3. Ok, thanks.

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