Originally published in Engines of Creation 2.0, WOWIO Books, February 2007.
Engines of Creation in 1986 inspired an explosion of interest in nanotechnology. Version 2.0 updates this classic book, including new concepts for molecular manufacturing and new uses for nanotech, such as removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and compressing it to liquid density for long-term storage.
The vision I portrayed in Engines of Creation in 1986 inspired a generation of students to direct their careers toward nanotechnology. Perhaps because it explores consequences of physics and broad principles, rather than tracking then-current technologies and trends, Engines continues to sell briskly as a book on the future of technology.
It would be difficult to understand where nanotechnology is today without understanding how we got here. Today’s pattern of research and opinion bears the imprint of ideas in Engines of Creation, in part directly, but in large part through reactions, misconceptions, reactions to misconceptions, and the peculiar dance of politics, technologies, and funding that followed. I’d like to offer a sketch of this process as it looked from my perspective, then a brief view looking forward.… read more