The Speculist: FastForward Radio

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FastForward Radio

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In this show we covered some of the latest developments in Nanotech.

Click "Continue reading" for the show and the show notes.


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We started the show again with sports talk. Phil's Colorado Rockies are going to the World Series and Stephen's LSU Tigers have started a new winning streak!

We then moved into a discussion of some of the latest developments in Nanotech. We ranked these developments on the "Nanotech Development Space" graph that Phil came up with back in 2004:

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The vertical axis is impact on society. The horizontal axis represents the impact on technology. Back in 2004, most of what was called nanotech was in the fake quadrant (low impact on technology and low impact on society). Nanotech was little more than a marketing term for people who wanted to sell stain-resistent pants. But Nanotech is growing up!

First up we discussed the Nano-radio - a radio transmitter made from carbon nanotubes. That's right - a radio transmitter the size of a molecule.

Second we talked about molecular-sized solar cells. This, obviously, could be used to power nanoscale devices, but Phil also pointed out that scaled up this might be another path to increased efficientcy in standard-sized solar panels.

Next we discussed a development in materials science - transparent plastic as strong as steel. Phil blogged about this a few weeks ago. It was in this discussion that Phil mentioned the newly opened Grand Canyon Skywalk pictured above. Stephen admitted that even the idea of this structure gives him vertigo. The floors are transparent!

Next we talked about dendrimers. Scientists were excited about this molecule 20+ years ago, but little came of it. Perhaps now the time has come. These molecules can be loaded up with folic acid - which amounts to cancer bait - and also standard chemotherapy drugs. It becomes a Trojan Horse to bring cancer drugs straight into the tumor. The idea is to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy while lowering the toxicity.

Stephen also mentioned the new mathematical model that predicts a deadly virulent future. We didn't disagree with the model, but we still found room for optimism.

Phil is attending the 2007 Foresight Nanotech Unconference November 3-4. He's excited about meeting some of the big names in Nanotech. There's still time to register and book a flight if you're interested in attending also.

We had a couple of great callers again this week. Matt Duing had an awesome point about the nanoradio - why couldn't that be used to allow nanobots to communicate with each other to work together? Also, he mentioned that silver nanoparticles had been used to kill cancerous tumors in animals.

Jen of the Jungle, another BlogTalkRadio host, called in and livened up the conversation. Her own cancer scare has made her very interested in how these drugs could develop. She gave us a live update on the fires in California and discussed some great Sci-Fi movies. One movie she mentioned is an old favorite of Stephen's - Bicentennial Man. Stephen's reviewed it and he included it in his list of top Sci-Fi movies earlier this year. That movie led to a discussion of why Death Sucks. Jen, you're a cool caller and we hope to hear from you again.

The music can be found at Magnatune.com. The front bumper was a sampling of Marginal Prophets' "The Difficult Song" and we exited to "Rhyming Dictionary" by The Seldon Plan.

Make sure to catch next week's show live at the same time Sunday night - 11:00 Eastern/10:00 Central/9:00 Mountain/8:00 Pacific.

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