Defense and National Security Nano, Nanomaterials, and Nanotechnologies

Friday, September 22, 2006

Next up: Desktop nanofactories that can pump out cars as well as nano weapons

The following is my post in response to Tim Harper’s blog post: in reference to the entitled article.  (I do not know why Tim calls the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology the Center for “Irresponsible” Nanotechnology.  I feel that he is only doing a disservice to the community by doing so. Sorry, Tim!)

Also, we have not yet caught the perpetrators of the 2001 anthrax attacks, lest we have a memory lapse.  It only reinforces my contention that it is, unfortunately, very easy to manufacture these deadly pathogens and toxins.


I agree with you that Drexelerian “nanobots” are quite some time away from becoming a reality.  However, the fact remains that the amalgamation of nano and bio could be either a boon, or a bane. It could deal a terrible blow to the Humanity from a weapons viewpoint.

We (the U. S.) already have an issue with the detection of biological species coming into the country via the airports.  If you could envision nanobioweapons, then the outlook of detection gets significantly less-than-stellar. In that context, that article to which you referred should ring alarm bells all over the world. I can tell you that I have personally worked on such projects (for detection and neutralization) with absolutely incredible results. However, I am certain that the same technology could be used in the opposite direction.

We are currently worried the most only about the spread of nuclear weapons; but these nanobioweapons surely pose a clear, present, and imminent danger to society.  Look, all it takes are decent biologists and chemists to whip up a concoction of the “gray goo,” which is not only undetectable at the airports, but their results are also insidious and devastating.  Can you envisage all the first-responders and medical professionals, who can become infected with the pathogens (potentially mutable and very communicable) and the diseases’ spreading rapidly by subsequent infection of others?  Almost all the “developing” (and certainly the “developed” countries) have the requisite skills to enable this program.  The apocalyptic picture is certainly not pretty.

What is your take on it?


Next up: Desktop nanofactories that can pump out cars as well as nano weapons

Melbourne, Sept 22: The potential applications of nanotechnology are limitless, but experts warn that these getting into the wrong hands could be scary.

Mike Treder from the think tank, Centre for Responsible Nanotechnology (CRN) in New York claims that within 15 years, desktop nanofactories could pump out anything ranging from a new car to a sophisticated nanoweapon.

He warns that though the technology could help solve problems like world poverty, it could at the same time wreak economic and social chaos. He says the society needs to start preparing for this brave new world.

It’s the biggest challenge weve ever faced as a species, ABC quoted Treder as telling a gathering of Australian scientists.

CNR is a non-profit organisation which aims to raise awareness about the benefits and dangers of molecular manufacturing, the precise assembly of products atom-by-atom.

Treder says that researchers are currently working on building molecular-scale machines that could eventually move atoms around to make consumer products like cups and chairs to cars and house bricks.

He says that in less than 15 years raw materials like carbon would be used in the nanofactory, where atoms would be rearranged to make products according to programs downloaded from the internet.

He warns that that though such desktop nanofactories could eliminate poverty and starvation in developing nations, and provide tremendous medical benefits, society needs to guard against its potential risks.

Treder says that CRN is concerned that these desktop nanofactories would lead to a nano
arms race in which hard-to-detect nanoweapons could be designed, manufactured and tested much quicker than they are today.

Imagine a suitcase filled with billions of toxin-carrying flying robots that could be released anywhere to target a population. You could make a suitcase full of these things overnight for a few dollars, he said.

The mass production of consumer goods by private desktop factories could also trigger social chaos due to economic disruption, says Treder.

If I can make my own car at home for a couple of hundred dollars with a design downloaded from the internet that means I’m not a customer of the auto dealer down the road.

Waste from such easy manufacturing, or nanolitter, is another issue that needs to be thought about, he says.

If someone could send you a product online that you don’t want but they just make it pump out of your nanofactory, how are we going to prevent that?

All theses argument raises the question of whether nanotechnology will be building a better future or destroying the world.





Saturday, September 09, 2006

Putin Focuses on Nanotechnology in Annual Address

It seems that Vladimir Putin is serious about nanotechnology (perhaps, fashioning himself after Mr. George W. Bush).



WRAP-UP: Putin focuses on demographic, social issues in annual address


May 10, 2006


In his annual state of the nation address to both houses of parliament on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin focused on social and demographic issues.

In particular, Putin commented on the government’s increasing investments in public services.

“Increased economic capabilities have allowed us to allocate additional investments for public services,” he said.

In September 2005 Putin announced the launch of the national projects, which envisage total investments of over 120 billion rubles this year. They include education, agriculture, healthcare and housing projects.

Putin also outlined a set of measures aimed at promoting population growth in the country.

Russia’s population has declined from a historical high of 148.4 million people in 1992 to about 143 million people at the end of 2005, according to Russia’s State Statistics Service.

Putin said that immigration alone would not be able to solve the problem of Russia’s declining population.

Making a bow to growing nationalism in Russia, the president said that immigrants should make efforts to adapt to the Russian culture.

Putin called for adopting a program starting from January 1, 2007 that would encourage couples to have more children. The program should support young families and women making the decision to have a child.

The president proposed increasing subsidies to families, including a larger monthly subsidy to a family for their second child.

Putin went on to comment on his idea of doubling Russia’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 10 years, which he put forward in 2003.

“We seem to be coping with this task and during the past three years the average annual economic growth amounted to 7%. However, I’d like to point out that, unless we get rid of some problems, improve major economic indicators, guarantee a proper level of economic freedom, create equal conditions for competition and strengthen property rights, we are unlikely to achieve these economic goals within these time limits,” Putin said.

For an economy to double within 10 years, it should grow at an average annual rate of over 7.1%. Russia’s GDP rose 7.1% in 2004 and 6.4% on the year in 2005. Russia’s 2006 budget projects the country’s GDP to grow 5.8%.

Putin also called for investing in the energy, communications, space, aircraft, IT and nanotechnology industries to assist in Russia’s economic development.

However, these investments should be carried out without “disturbing financial stability,” Putin said. He did not elaborate.

Meanwhile, obsolete equipment and poor energy efficiency are major challenges for Russia’s economic growth, Putin said.

Commenting on the government’s increasing role in Russia’s economy, Putin said that government investments are necessary but they should not be the only means of economic development.

Putin also said that Russians’ high degree of distrust in the government and big business was a major problem for the country.

Putin said that failed hopes for better living standards during reforms in 1990s were the major reason behind distrust.

He also said that the unprecedented personal enrichment of few at the expense of people had also fueled the distrust.

To emphasize his efforts in the past few years on the issue, Putin quoted U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his speech.

"In the working out of a great national program which seeks the primary good of the greater number, it is true that the toes of some people are being stepped on and are going to be stepped on," Putin quoted Roosevelt's speech delivered in June 1934.

One part of the historical Russian translation Putin quoted - " are going to be stepped on" - was closer to "we will continue to do so" and could have been interpreted as a reference to the so-called Yukos affair. Oil company Yukos has been burdened with multibillion dollar back tax claims since 2003; its major owners and top managers either went to jail or live in exile while being prosecuted in Russia.

"But these toes belong to the comparative few who seek to retain or to gain position or riches or both by some short cut which is harmful to the greater good," Putin said continuing with Roosevelt's quote.

"Great words," Putin said. "Too bad it is not me who said them."

Putin also called for strengthening Russia’s military, noting that the country’s military budget is 25 times less than that of the U.S.

“Their house is their fortress - good for them,” Putin said. “But that means that we also must make our house strong and reliable.”

However Russia should not increase its military might at the expense of economy and social services, repeating the Soviet Union’s mistakes, Putin said.

Putin also commented on Russia’s possible accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Talks on Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) should not turn into “bargaining” over issues that have nothing to do with the WTO’s objectives, he said.

(27.0802 rubles - U.S. $1)

Russian PM Inks Ruling to Invest 15 Billion Rubles in Government Venture Fund

Lately, there has been a spate of news from Russia (with love, of course!) on nanotechnology.



Russian PM inks ruling to invest 15 bln rbl in govt venture fund


Aug 25, 2006



Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov has signed a ruling to invest 15 billion rubles in the Russian Venture Company, a governmental venture capital fund, in 2006-2007, the government's press office said Friday.

Under the ruling, the government is expected to contribute 5 billion rubles from its Investment Fund to the company's charter capital in 2006 and another 10 billion rubles next year.

The Russian Venture Company will finance projects in information technology, telecommunications, biotechnology, medicine, nanotechnology and power generation.

The government is expected to hold 100% in the Russian Venture Company.

The Russian Venture Company is expected to allocate the government's share of investments into sector-oriented venture funds. The government will be responsible for 49% of the money accumulated in the sector-oriented venture funds, which will represent from 600 million rubles to 1.5 billion rubles depending on the fund.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly called for developing IT and high-tech industries and supported the establishment of the Russian Venture Company.

(26.7863 rubles - U.S. $1)

Russian Government Approves 30 Billion Ruble Program to Finance Nanotechnology

It seems that we have a nanowar on our hands!  Please see my earlier post on the same subject (Russia Opens New Nanotech Center).





Russian govt approves 30 bln ruble program to finance nanotechnology


Sep 07, 2006


The Russian government approved in general Thursday a 30 billion ruble program to finance the nanotechnology industry, Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov and Education and Science Minister Andrei Fursenko said following a regular government meeting.

The funds will be allocated mainly from the federal budget, Fursenko said.

The program has not yet been approved by the Economic Development and Trade Ministry and the Finance Ministry, he said.

Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref has objected to Fursenko's proposal to start the program in 2007 and proposed launching it in 2008 and completing it five years later, Fursenko said.

Meanwhile, the government has already allocated 3.9 billion rubles to finance nanotechnology in the draft federal budget for 2007, Gref has said, as cited by Fursenko.

In May Russian President Vladimir Putin called for investing in the nanotechnology industry in his state of the nation address.

(26.6714 rubles - U.S. $1)