steven schkolne on Tue, 9 Sep 2003 10:41:22 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> DNA and computers

hi nettimers, some of these comments about researcher's motivation have 
hit a little close to home, and fundamentally contradict some of my 
experience - i am just wrapping up my PhD on 3d interaction at Caltech 
and based on my stint here i'd have to say that this corporate drive is 
not so strong on campus, especially in Erik Winfree's dna computation 
group (  i have worked closely with erik over 
the past couple years and i have known few as motivated by curiosity and 
pure investigation for it's own sake as erik and others in his lab are.  

the professors and students at caltech could all earn a lot more money 
if they went into industry.  tie-ins with industry are often trumpeted 
in grant applications and some press releases, but this is almost always 
justification of a subject that is interesting for its own sake. 
 usually the fundamental research is a done deal 1-2 years before this 
spin even gets thought about.  sometimes researchers are motivated by 
power, the idea of a cultural transition brought about by their 
technology, but this is rarely tied to short-term economic reward -- i 
do not know of a single project at caltech that has a "direct money 
reward" attached to it.  usually professors leave campus for a bit when 
they want to make money on something, look at carver mead's VLSI work, 
foveon cameras, and such -- this commercially-oriented work is done with 
little involvement on campus.

all this talk about nano seems deeply rooted in pop science, and much 
like the rage about fractals, chaos, virtual reality, etc., i see that 
science/tech moves virtually independently of this cultural force. 
 nanotech could be a $1 trillion industry in 2015.  or perhaps it is an 
had been a huge industry for centuries... the smallest stuff is always a 
huge industry, and over time we can make smaller and smaller things.... 
 surprise surprise....


Eduardo Navas wrote:

>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Ognjen Strpic" <>
>>bad thing, in my view, about current trends in nanoresearch is that they
>>seem to be desperate to (finally) cash in some of their accomplishments.
>>the recent popular literature is flooded with points about business
>>opportunities of nanotech.
>>"By 2015, nanotechnology could be a $1 trillion industry" (first
>>sentence on the back cover of Ratner & Ratner, Nanotechnology, Prentice
>>Hall, 2003). last section of the same book is "Venture capital
>>interested in nano".
>This is very true.  What I did not mention in my previous post about my

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