Tuesday, September 1, 2009


I had no idea nanotech was so far along! The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology is admittedly not exactly an unbiased source, but they predict workable molecular manufacturing in the next twenty years.

This sort of thing freaks me out, in my gut where I can't reason with it. A side effect of too much science fiction? But often the best way to deal with that feeling is to move in closer until I understand it and can deal with it, instead of living with the low-grade worry that comes standard. Cory Doctorow is excellent at thinking about these problems in human terms, as in the story After the Siege (scroll down to view a selection of formats for downloading purposes).

I want to go to space. Perhaps I could get there through a combination of architecture and nanotech expertise. I wonder how many years of intense schooling I would need for that? Two years for the architecture, perhaps. Three for the physics/engineering/chemistry necessary for nanotech research? Some of the necessary math and engineering may overlap, and I'm sure many courses could be taken simultaneously. On the other hand, this sample engineering major requirement list indicates a need for a minimum of three or four years of high school science classes including physics and chemistry, in addition to college math through Calculus and Calculus-based Physics. So probably I would need at least a year of intensive preparatory classes in addition to the five of real classes. Hmm.

Designing structures for humans to live in space using nanotech would be interesting, and important, and maybe even useful. Maybe I wouldn't feel so much like I'm wasting my time. The kind of materials engineering possible through nanotech might be able to mitigate the radiation hazards and seriously reduce the mass of vehicles and cargoes going into space, thus decreasing fuel needs and making the undertaking cheaper all around. Although it occurs to me that for example a nanotech air filtration system would be much more difficult to repair on the fly than a traditional mechanical one. Or would it? A personal nanofactory might be able to churn one out in seconds.

The last thing I need to hear is that this is too ambitious. But is it ambitious in the right direction?

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