NanoPundit -Where Society, Science and the Law get really, really small.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Methinks I Protest Too Much

George Mannes at is making fun of nanotechnology, or at least Steve Forbes and his Nanotech Report.

In an article entitled “The Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week” nanotech hits number 1 with “Is That a Sugar Cube in Your Pocket or Are You Just Happy to See Me?”

Forbes' new Nanotech Report, a $295-a-year newsletter intended to guide your investments in nanotechnology, which we at the research lab formally define as "the science of itty-bitty things."

Nanotechnology is "the next, next big thing!" writes Steve. As in, a cash-out-all-your-shares-of-Microsoft (MSFT:Nasdaq - news - commentary - research - analysis)-and-invest-in-this opportunity. As in, get-in-on-the-ground-floor-before-it's-too-late hot.

Among the "theoretically feasible" applications for nanotech, according to Wolfe:
"Engineered molecules" that can be "the key to curing diseases."
"A sugar-cube-sized supercomputer capable of storing everything in the Library of Congress."
"Smart combat fatigues" that detect biological weapons, secrete "the appropriate blocking agent" and change colors like a chameleon.
"Bathrooms that never need cleaning."
"Automobile tires that never go flat."

These claims raise a number of questions -- chief among them, how long have people at Forbes been dropping acid?

We may not have learned much from the dot-com bubble, but we have learned that if someone promises that a new technology will cure cancer, improve homeland security, shrink a library to the size of a sugar cube and clean your toilet, the whole thing is probably a scam.

I think that Mr. Mannes is still angry that his scene from The Graduate hit the cutting room floor. You know, right after Mr. Maguire says “Plastics” Mannes piped in “No, asbestos is the future.” Other Mennes quotes include:

A machine that flies like a bird, impossible.
Electricity, If I can’t see it I don’t need it.
I’ll get the 20MB hard drive; no one could ever fill up 40MB’s.
De. . . deox. . . deoxynuculear, aw if I can’t say it I ain’t going to invest.
Microsoft at 120 and rising, this is too good to miss.

As all six of my regular readers know, nanotechnology is the science of manipulating materials on the atomic level and it is going to open up huge new areas of endeavor. If the analogy is plastics, nanotech is still in the Bakelite era. There is money to be made in nanotechnology. I think that 80% of the market is overvalued, but the market as a whole is undervalued. I have said it before, people way smarter than me are trying to figure out where the money is and somebody is going to get rich.


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