What should you study if you want to succeed in Nanotechnology?
by Mark Finnern
Related link: http://www.quantuminsight.com/_MSB/index.html
Random notes from last nights Nanotechnology Forum:
Steve Jurvetson, in his usual fast paced talking, led the evening and the panel discussion. (It's great that he will be at the ACC2003 too, just crank up the mic a bit.)
The best lines came from Stan Williams of HP:
"Every information is going to be electrons and all communications are going to be photons, and I am talking about everything going beyond one millimeter."
He often gets asked what are the courses that one should take if you want to succeed in nanotechnology.
His advice is to major in journalism. Communication is a real big problem. It takes years for the people coming from different fields to arrive at a common language, then this common language is created within that lab and outsiders still can't understand.
He also said that it is an advantage if English is not your native language (which of course was sugar in my ears), because with the experience of learning a second language you are far more sensitive to communication problems. Of the last 26 people he hired, 25 were non-native English speakers.
Teramac is a massively parallel crossbar computer that he and his team are working on. Stan is confident they will exceed the hyperbolic growth of Moore's law by 2005, and with cost savings of a factor of 1000, because they can contact print these chips.
Intellectual Property is a problem. HP has almost as many patent lawyers as they have researchers. He says it is a defensive measure, they don't want to be fenced in by someone else's patent.
Nowadays to bring out a product you have to negotiate licenses all over the world, because so many people are working on nanotechnology and generating IP. His recommendation for a startup that does not have the patent bargaining chips is to create a diamond product. It does not help the big company to just patent your idea, if you have a great product out.
There are no good tools available for the kind of computers that they are creating. Lots of work ahead that will keep the software guys busy. To reach the defect and fault tolerance that they are looking for you have to work with redundancy, which in the current programming model is something that gets stomped out. Therefore everything has to be rewritten for this new model.
He also recommended, and he is not the first one to do so, the Feynman Lectures on Physics. I once read that Richard Feynman taught these freshman classes and every year more advanced students and even faculty colleagues would come to hear him.
You can buy nanotechnology today, for example drill bits at Orchard Supply Store. They are created out of composite material. The sales people don't know about this and marketing has not picked it up yet either. He calls it stealth nanotech.
Are you ready to sign up for journalism classes?