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MICHAEL BARONE: Large government out of place in a society based on small technology.

Civilian technology, Joel Mokyr notes, has also gone “small” — nanotechnology, genetic engineering, custom-engineered materials, “mass customization” through 3-D printing. If the Rouge plant looming over Dearborn was the iconic symbol of the industrial age, the iconic symbol of our information age is the smartphone in your pocket.

“Large” technology requires the standardization of masses of people, centralized command-and-control, conformity to social norms. Massive work forces and massive armies cannot operate optimally otherwise.

“Small” technology enables individuals to make personal choices, fashion their world to their own dimensions, deploy their own talents and pursue their interests in ways of their own choosing. Standardization yields to customization.

President Obama doesn’t seem to get this. He sees history as a story of progress from minimal government to ever-larger government. He’s only sorry that he hasn’t taken us farther on that track.

But history doesn’t proceed in a straight line; it moves around. “Large” technology made big government seem necessary in 1914. “Small” technology requires something different, something more adaptive today.

Indeed. You could almost write a book about that.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Proof of principle for nanoscale assembly line.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: DARPA announces new program on nanoscale assembly and integration.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Seeing and touching a single synthetic molecular machine.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Nanotechnology-based next generation memory nears mass production.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Biotech lab in the cloud lowers entry barrier to nanotech research.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Debating the National Nanotechnology Initiative.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: The atomically precise manufacture of quantum dots.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: These Nanoparticles Could Clot Your Blood Faster—And Save Your Life.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Robust triangular RNA brick adds to RNA nanotechnology toolkit.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Photos from 2014 Foresight Technical Conference.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Novel properties for nanotechnology rebar-graphene reinforced with carbon nanotubes.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Novel properties for nanotechnology rebar-graphene reinforced with carbon nanotubes.

DNA NANOTECHNOLOGY replicates enzyme cascade. “In another advance along this pathway to atomically precise manufacturing, researchers have arranged two enzymes on a DNA scaffold to replicate the organization of an enzyme cascade inside a cell, passing a substrate molecule from one enzyme to the next.”

I LIKE THE IDEA, BUT I DOUBT IT’S PRACTICAL WITHOUT NANOTECHNOLOGY: Solar Roadways raises $1M for solar-panel covered roads.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Expanded DNA alphabet provides more options for nanotechnology.

WHILE WE WAIT FOR TRUE MOLECULAR MANUFACTURING, THE TRANSITIONAL NANOTECH CAN STILL BE HUGE: Nanotechnology to provide efficient, inexpensive water desalination.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Physicists suppress ‘stiction’ force that bedevils microscale machinery.

OBJECTIFIED BY SOCIETY’S ARTIFICIAL STANDARDS: Hollywood Actors: Six-Packs That Speak Lines.

Via Outside the Beltway, I see that Men’s Journal has a lengthy article on what it takes to be a male movie star these days. The short answer: 3 to 4 percent body fat, an incredibly carved six-pack and lovingly sculpted musculature. Because that combination does not normally occur in nature, the long answer involves nutritionists, traveling weight trainers, and more-than-occasional injections of testosterone and human growth hormone.

In other words, a Hollywood star is not so much an actor, or a body. It is a nearly starving body that has been stripped of almost all its naturally occurring subcutaneous fat, then artificially bolstered with various supplements and medical technology to make it look like a statue rather than a famine victim.

Nanotechnology will take care of that, eventually, at which point, not being difficult and rare, the look will go out of style. Meanwhile, I’m reminded of this article from back when Salon didn’t suck.

A SHORT REPORT FROM THE Foresight Institute’s 2014 Nanotechnology Conference.

WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: Wait, There’s Nanotechnology in My Food?

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Better nanoswitches by integrating double and triple strand DNA.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Nanomotors are controlled, for the first time, inside living cells.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Better nanoswitches by integrating double and triple strand DNA.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Nanoparticle pinpoints blood-vessel plaques: A step toward identifying plaques vulnerable to rupture that causes heart attack and stroke. “By loading the surface with gadolinium ions instead of injecting them and letting them flow freely in the blood stream, the nanoparticle increases the relaxivity — or contrast from healthy tissue — by more than 10,000 times. That’s because the nanorod carries up to 2,000 molecules of the contrast agent, concentrating them at the plaque sites. Secondly, attaching the contrast agent to a nanoparticle scaffold reduces its molecular tumbling rates and leads to additional relaxivity benefit, the researchers explained. While the view is better, they are able to use 400 times less of the contrast agent because it’s delivered directly to plaques.”

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: RNA nanotechnology – fewer structures in living cells than in test tubes.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Nanoparticle That Mimics Red Blood Cell Shows Promise as Vaccine for Bacterial Infections.

FASTER PLEASE: World’s Smallest Pacemaker Can Be Implanted without Surgery.

Pacemaker surgery typically requires a doctor to make an incision above a patient’s heart, dig a cavity into which they can implant the heartbeat-regulating device, and then connect the pulse generator to wires delivered through a vein near the collarbone. Such surgery could soon be completely unnecessary. Instead, doctors could employ miniaturized wireless pacemakers that can be delivered into the heart through a major vein in the thigh.

On Monday, doctors in Austria implanted one such device into a patient—the first participant in a human trial of what device-manufacturer Medtronic says is the smallest pacemaker in the world. The device is 24 millimeters long and 0.75 cubic centimeters in volume—a tenth the size of a conventional pacemaker. Earlier this year, another device manufacturer, St. Jude Medical, bought a startup called Nanostim that makes another tiny pacemaker, and St. Jude is offering it to patients in Europe. This device is 41 millimeters long and one cubic centimeter in volume.

Doctors can implant such pacemakers into the heart through blood vessels, via an incision in the thigh. They use steerable, flexible tubes called catheters to push the pacemakers through a large vein.

It’s not nanotechnology, but it’s a great improvement.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Goodbye athlete’s foot: IBM researchers craft nanomedicine to kill fungi where other meds fail.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Drug-carrying nanoparticles that can be taken orally in pill form.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Nanoparticle therapy for incurable brain cancer effective in mice.

IF YOU’RE INTERESTED IN NANOTECHNOLOGY, check out the 2014 Foresight Technical Conference, in Palo Alto this February.

INTERESTED IN NANOTECHNOLOGY? Check out the Foresight Institute’s 17th Annual Technical Conference on Nanotechnology, February 7-9, 2014, Crowne Plaza Cabana Hotel, Palo Alto.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Adding more chemical interactions to DNA nanotechnology.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Video: Eric Drexler On Transforming The Material Basis Of Civilization.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Circuits of graphitic nanoribbons grown from aligned DNA templates.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Computational design of protein-small molecule interactions.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Nanotubes aren’t stiff if they aren’t straight. “Materials scientists have pursued the question of why vertically aligned carbon nanotube forests show much lower modulus values than expected. Now researchers from Georgia Tech have found that the nanotubes they fabricate contain kinks that dramatically diminish modulus value. In other words, the nanotubes are not straight; therefore, they are not stiff.”

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Foresight Invitational Workshop: Nanotechnology for Developing Countries. Palo Alto, February.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Computational design of protein-small molecule interactions.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: New Treatment for Gonorrhea Prevents Reinfection: A nanoparticle-based cancer therapy has been found to thwart an antibiotic-resistant, sexually transmitted infection in mice. Given the growth of antibiotic resistant gonorrhea — and antibiotic resistance in general — this could be big.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Circuits of graphitic nanoribbons grown from aligned DNA templates.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Precise mechanical manipulation of individual long DNA molecules. “This advance is a very important nanotechnology that is especially important for DNA sequencing, and thus for personalized medicine, a major component of future medical technology.”

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Video: Assembly and Manipulation of Molecules at the Atomic Scale.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Warped graphene molecules offer new building blocks for nanotechnology.

Also, if you’re interested in nanotechnology, check out the Foresight Conference on Nanotechnology in February 2014. “Over 20 speakers will present their research and vision within the realm of groundbreaking atomic- and molecular-scale science and engineering with application across a wide range of advanced technologies, including materials, electronics, energy conversion, biotechnology and more. Events will include presentation of the annual Foresight Institute Feynman Prize, one of the most prestigious awards in nanoscale science and technology.”

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Nanoscale box aids single-molecule optical detection.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Improved molecular targeting via cellular automata.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: DNA nanotechnology positions components to optimize single-molecule fluorescence.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Nanotube Probe Gives a Single Neuron’s View of Brain Activity.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Quantum dot conduction impacted by stoichiometry, not dangling bonds.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Harvard researchers grow garden of nanoscience delights.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Germanane: germanium’s answer to graphane.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Silicene: Silicon’s Answer To Graphene. “On the list of potential post-silicon materials for electronics and chips is none other than silicon. More specifically, silicene — 2D sheets of hexagonally arranged silicon atoms, structurally analogous to graphene. . . . What fascinates me most is the notion that a material on the nanoscale could replace its own bulk-scale counterpart for advanced, future applications – a great example of the wonder of the nanoscale.”

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: World’s smallest stop-motion film made with individual atoms.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Explaining superparamagnetism.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: A Framework To Promote Critical Thinking About Nanotechnology.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Scientists Image Nanoparticles In Action.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Atomically precise placement of dangling bonds on silicon surface.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Freedom of assembly: Scientists see nanoparticles form larger structures in real time.

PUT IT IN PEOPLE, AND TURN IT ON WHENEVER THEY SEE A PICTURE OF BIG BROTHER: Tiny wireless injectable LED device shines light on mouse brain, generating reward. “Using a miniature electronic device implanted in the brain, scientists have tapped into the internal reward system of mice, prodding neurons to release dopamine, a chemical associated with pleasure.”

I predicted this in the New York Times over a decade ago: “One nanotechnology expert, Glenn H. Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee, said that someday it might even be used to make tiny robots that would lodge in people’s brains and make them truly love Big Brother.”

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: RNA-protein motor for unidirectional movement of DNA in nanomachinery.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: An interview with Eric Drexler: Nanotechnology’s Next Phase.

Drexler’s new book, Radical Abundance: How a Revolution in Nanotechnology Will Change Civilization, is coming out in May.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Computationally designed peptide sneaks nanoparticles past immune system.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Studying environmental impacts of nanoparticles using mesocosms.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Worried About Incurable Tuberculosis? Stand By for Incurable Everything. Nanotechnology may solve that. Or phages. But only if people work on it.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Nanotechnology delivers potent anti-cancer agent where it needs to go.

A TEENAGER’S STEP toward nanotechnology innovation.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Nanoparticles Made From Bee Venom Can Kill HIV.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Nanotechnology delivers potent anti-cancer agent where it needs to go.

NANOTECHNOLOGY: The New Frontier.

CHRISTINE PETERSON interviewed on nanotechnology.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Artificial molecular machine synthesizes a small peptide.

Also: Toward molecular fabrication: formation of distinct bond types by STM.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Nanotechnology Didn’t Shrink And Disappear: In Fact, It’s Everywhere.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Controlled stepwise rotation on a single atom bearing.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Novel Solar Photovoltaic Cells Achieve Record Efficiency Using Nanoscale Structures.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Nanometer-scale optical positioning and focusing.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: First Nanodiamond Arrays Created By Biological Molecules.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Fibers spun from carbon nanotubes have the conductivity of copper and the strength of advanced composites.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Testing and improving scaffolded DNA origami for molecular nanotechnology.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Single-molecule motor sits on a single-atom ball bearing.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Optimal Bond Loads In Designing Molecular Machines.

LOOKING FOR YEAR-END CHARITABLE DONATIONS? Consider supporting The Foresight Institute, which addresses all sorts of interesting nanotechnology issues.

I also recommend the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and the Lifeboat Foundation. And don’t forget the Cato Institute, and the Institute for Justice.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Two Types of Artificial Muscle From Nanotechnology.

HMM: Johnny Depp to Star as a Supercomputer in Christopher Nolan Film About the Singularity.

The Wrap reports that in the film, titled Transcendence and based on a story by Jack Paglen, Johnny Depp “will play a scientist whose brain is uploaded into a supercomputer” while trying to create the first ever sentient computer. Nanotechnology and the Singularity are also said to play pivotal roles in the film, which explains the nerd boner you are currently sporting.

Johnny Depp may seem like a strange casting choice, but given his penchant for bizarre roles, we imagine he’ll play a mad scientist quite convincingly. He’ll be playing the main character, Will, who is assassinated by terrorists who are against technology. When his wife uploads his brain, Will begins to respond to her queries through the computer. By hooking his brain-cum-computer up to the Internet, he can continue his scientific research.

If anyone can pull that role off, it’s Depp.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: New strides in understanding mechanochemical reactions.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Look Inside A Futuristic Nanotech Lab.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Arbitrarily complex 3D DNA nanostructures built from DNA bricks. “This powerful advance should lead to programmable molecular arrangements for several applications.”

FIVE NEW ADDITIONS to the Habitable ExoPlanets Catalog. “The online listing, called the Habitable Exoplanets Catalog, celebrated its first anniversary today (Dec. 5). When it was first released last year, it had two potential habitable planets to its name. According to lead researcher Abel Mendez, the team expected to add maybe one or two more in the catalog’s first year. The addition of five suspected new planets was wholly beyond anyone’s expectations.”

Now if the warp drive technology, and the nanotechnology, can make enough progress in the next few decades, there might be hope for humanity.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: New strides in understanding mechanochemical reactions.

LOOKING FOR YEAR-END CHARITABLE DONATIONS? Consider supporting The Foresight Institute, which addresses all sorts of interesting nanotechnology issues.

I also recommend the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and the Lifeboat Foundation. And don’t forget the Cato Institute, and the Institute for Justice.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Milestone: A General Method For Designing Stable Proteins. “What you have now is a flexible set of building blocks for nanoscale assembly.”

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Wax-filled nanotech yarn behaves like powerful, super-strong muscle. “New artificial muscles made from nanotech yarns and infused with paraffin wax can lift more than 100,000 times their own weight and generate 85 times more mechanical power during contraction than the same size natural muscle, according to scientists at The University of Texas at Dallas and their international team from Australia, China, South Korea, Canada and Brazil.”

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: 7 Amazing Ways Nanotechnology Is Changing The World.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Writing a single-atom qubit in silicon.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Proteins Made To Order: Researchers design proteins from scratch with predictable structures. “What you have now is a flexible set of building blocks for nanoscale assembly.”

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Howard Lovy: Training U.S. Workers for Nanotech Revolution Is No Small Thing. “The United States produces a great number of nanotech Ph.D.s, but these researchers are not the ones who are going to run the equipment at these new nanotech companies that spin out of the research.”

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Shape may play an important role in nanoparticle-based therapeutics. “Nanoparticle-based research remains at the forefront of nanoscale approaches to targeted drug delivery and gene therapy (see related posts highlighting achievements in targeting specificity and enhanced delivery owed to high nanoparticle surface area). Recently reprinted by KurzweilAI.net, a news release from Johns Hopkins University entitled “Scientists Discover That Shape Matters in DNA Nanoparticle Therapy” describes the new findings, in which researchers from JHU and Northwestern University developed a set of DNA-copolymer nanoparticles that differ significantly in shape and in transfection efficiency.”

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Nanotechnology Education: Four Ways You Can Make A Contribution.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Rise of the Molecular Machines.