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Comments on Lower Limit For Nanobot Size Discovered
Scientists and science fiction writers must accept new limits to imagination, thanks to a remarkable first-ever measurement. (Read the complete story)

"It's interesting -- sometimes there seems almost to be a party line that says "every new discovery about the nanoscale should be interpreted to show that nanomachines are difficult or impossible to build." The contrast between the press release and the actual paper is pretty striking. The actual research says basically nothing about the difficulty of building mechanical nanosystems, noting only that "the vdW interaction is one of the most important forces at the nanometer length scale" -- which we already knew. (Quote from Responsible Nanotechnology blog) http://crnano.typepad.com/crnblog/2005/09/small_distances.html "
( 9/28/2005 4:33:46 AM)
"I'm sorry, but this story is just dumb. The lower limit on the size of machines made of atoms is, er, the size of atoms, right? What do you suppose -- just to take a random example -- reverse transcriptase is, but a machine made of atoms? For that matter, even macroscopic machines are machines made of atoms. Sheesh."
(Songe Bob Triangle Pants 9/28/2005 3:52:15 PM)
"Here are a couple of quotes from the research paper:
"The vdW [van der Waals] interaction can also affect individual atoms or groups of atoms near a solid surface. For example, nearby surfaces can distort the radial symmetry of carbon nanotubes and deflect the probes of atomic force microscopes." I'm assuming that if, based on this research, the van der Waals force at specific distances from a surface could affect the structure of a nanomachine, it might fail to function.
A second quote reads "the vdW interaction places a limit on the spatial scale of atom interferometers built on a chip because bringing the atoms too close to a surface can result in poor contrast and atom intensity." This is more the thrust of the paper as a whole; not about nanomachines, but about building very small chip structures."
(Bill Christensen 9/28/2005 6:19:15 PM)

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