Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Definition of 'nano'

from here (which I'll have more substantial things to say about):
Later, as funding appeared and researchers flocked under the banner of nanotechnology it came to mean far larger systems. A bit cynically, one could say that any kind of material technology, chemistry or physics can be called nanotechnology if at least some part can be measured in nanometers - even if it is by the hundreds of them. If funding is made more likely by adding the prefix nano- to one's research, the temptation is great to do it. There is also the positive side: by seeing many diverse fields as converging into nanoscience, great synergies and interdisciplinary adventures can be started. But the N-word still gets diluted.

As a researcher, I've never heard "nano" to be used where the smallest dimension was greater than 100 nm. It's always used for less than that, not when it can be measured "by the hundreds of [nanometers]".

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Formulation of pain/pleasure/pleasure in hardship paradox

PEA Soup has a good formulation of the paradox
Suppose that A’s life contains more pain than pleasure, so that his life has intrinsic value of –15 (pending what else happens). A then takes pleasure to degree 10 in the fact that he’s had a bad life. Call this pleasure P. Is P a true pleasure or a false pleasure? If it’s a true pleasure, then its intrinsic value is +20, which means A’s life has intrinsic value of +5, which means P is not a true pleasure after all. If P is a false pleasure, then P has intrinsic value of +10, which means A’s life has intrinsic value of –5, which means P was in fact a true pleasure. Paradox.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Call for papers

I'm not entirely sure how I missed this when it first came out, but this seems like an interesting call for papers

News from the Bottom

The Online Student Journal of Nanotechnology

Now accepting papers from graduate and undergraduate students on epistemological, societal, ethical & legal implications of nanotechnology, and its convergence with other technologies.
Articles, reviews, and papers of any length will be considered.

Possible areas for papers include (but are not limited to): Reviews of nanotech in popular media; Historical Aspects (Feynman’s speech, Drexler’s influence, origins of the term ‘nanotechnology’, etc.); Overviews of areas of concern (like nanoparticle toxicity); Implications of the technologies (like self-replication); business community’s role in nanotechnology; how nanotech changes traditional hierarchy of the sciences

Email submissions as attachments to the editors (; include author’s name and area of study, title of paper, & brief abstract. We ask that all the submissions please include a bibliography for all references at the end of the paper and be formatted as Word documents. Questions may be directed to:

It looks like there isn't a due date, but I could just be missing something.


I finally finished Kass's book the other day and was duly moved by it. I recommend to anyone who is going to consider or wonder about the implications that technology can have on society and on the nature of humanity. It is, of course, more geared towards bioethics (cloning, stem cell research, "right to die"), but the general theme of looking at technology with the dignity of the human life in mind is a useful idea to gain and develop. Technology has a huge impact on how we look at the world and knowing how it changes us is important in deciding how useful/desirable it really is.

People looking for a book that probably takes the complete opposite viewpoint as Kass (and probably doesn't address any of the questions he raises about the relationship of man and technology) ought to check out "More Than Human" - I intend to.

I'm working on some thoughts now on nanotechnology and humanity leaving the evolution regime behind that I'll have some preliminary thoughts on in a couple of days.

Monday, March 07, 2005


I know I've been neglecting the nanoethics blog for a little while, but I'm starting to get back to it. I've been doing some actual nanoscience work pretty steadily now and trying to work out some other projects. I'm starting to get back to it though, so watch this to become more regular from now on...