Radical Abundance: How a Revolution in Nanotechnology Will Change Civilization

Overview


K. Eric Drexler is the founding father of nanotechnology—the science of engineering on a molecular level. In Radical Abundance, he shows how rapid scientific progress is about to change our world. Thanks to atomically precise manufacturing, we will soon have the power to produce radically more of what people want, and at a lower cost. The result will shake the very foundations of our economy and environment.

Already, scientists have constructed prototypes for circuit boards ...

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Radical Abundance: How a Revolution in Nanotechnology Will Change Civilization

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Overview


K. Eric Drexler is the founding father of nanotechnology—the science of engineering on a molecular level. In Radical Abundance, he shows how rapid scientific progress is about to change our world. Thanks to atomically precise manufacturing, we will soon have the power to produce radically more of what people want, and at a lower cost. The result will shake the very foundations of our economy and environment.

Already, scientists have constructed prototypes for circuit boards built of millions of precisely arranged atoms. The advent of this kind of atomic precision promises to change the way we make things—cleanly, inexpensively, and on a global scale. It allows us to imagine a world where solar arrays cost no more than cardboard and aluminum foil, and laptops cost about the same.

A provocative tour of cutting edge science and its implications by the field’s founder and master, Radical Abundance offers a mind-expanding vision of a world hurtling toward an unexpected future.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The intriguing assertion that "the advent of a revolution in nanotechnology will...transform our world, and not in a small way" may at first resemble the old alchemical quest to turn lead into gold. For Drexler (Engines of Creation), the move to "atomically precise manufacturing" (APM) is closer than we know. Using nanotechnology "as a kind of printer that builds objects out of patterns of atoms," APM paves the way toward an "unprecedented abundance" of consumer goods, water and agriculture, advances in medicine, and solutions to most environmental crises. Is it too good to be true? Drexler does not try to paint a utopian future, instead his purpose is to "encourage inquiry, thought, and conversations that lead to a more realistic, coherent view of our future". Drexler is aware of the layperson's position of ignorance and he writes comprehensively about the problems between scientific and engineering approaches, the myths of nanotechnology that have hindered its development, and he even offers a history on how the "APM Revolution" coincides with the Neolithic, industrial, and informational revolutions. As a primer into the science and engineering behind APM and "nanoscience", Drexler offers an engaging way to enter that conversation. (May)
From the Publisher
Kirkus
“A stimulating tour through current thinking about and future possibilities for nanotechnology, from one of its creators… A crackerjack piece of science and technology writing.”

Albany Times Union
“K. Eric Drexler writes in his accessible new book "Radical Abundance" that the digital revolution is about to give way to a form of production that will radically transform the world economy and that could also save the environment: nanotechnology, or more specifically, atomically precise manufacturing.”

Nature Magazine
Nanotechnology pioneer Eric Drexler bids us to leap in at the technological deep end. We can transform the way we make everything from bridges to circuit boards, he argues, by harnessing molecular machines that operate on digital principles. The result? Desktop or garage facilities that use less fuel, land and energy than today’s vast factories and supply chains. The technical and political challenges of unleashing ‘atomically precise manufacturing’ are substantial, but Drexler cuts deftly through the complexities.”

From The Critics
Kirkus“A stimulating tour through current thinking about and future possibilities for nanotechnology, from one of its creators… A crackerjack piece of science and technology writing.”
Kirkus Reviews
A stimulating tour through current thinking about and future possibilities for nanotechnology, from one of its creators. A quarter-century ago, Drexler (Future Technology/Oxford Univ.; Nanosystems: Molecular Machinery, Manufacturing, and Computation, 1992, etc.) defined nanotechnology as a manufacturing technology using supermicro-scale devices to build products with atomic precision. Unfortunately, the media overhyped nanotechnology's immediate prospects, and interest flagged and funding dried up. Regardless, advances in micromanufacture kept coming--consider, say, ultraviolet-light photolithography in semiconductor manufacture. Automatically precise manufacturing is to matter what computers are to information--radical and transformative, cutting costs, pushing range and performance, and sustainable in that it uses readily available atomic materials such as carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, silicon and aluminum to precisely build products from the atom on up. Readers will enjoy Drexler's tone: enthusiastic and energetic yet soberly realistic ("what stands out is that advanced nanomachines can closely resemble the machines that have enabled the Industrial Revolution"). The author is a good storyteller, too, for this is the journey of an idea, one that starts with an interest in space and investigations into molecular biology, chemistry and genetic engineering, as well as the inquiry/design tensions between scientists and engineers. There is so much that lies behind the word nanotechnology, and Drexler takes readers into that landscape, explaining mechanical scaling, thermal energy, the vast difference between analog and digital, the crazy, counterintuitive world of self-assembly and the dark magic of crystal-structure prediction. He never looks down on readers--go look it up if you need--and he obviously wants them to enjoy the prospects and understand how they work. A crackerjack piece of science and technology writing.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781610391139
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 5/7/2013
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 604,215
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author


K. Eric Drexler developed, named, and popularized the concept of nanotechnology. Currently at the Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology at Oxford University, Drexler is a frequent public speaker on scientific issues, addressing audiences of politicians, business leaders, scientists, and engineers in the Americas, Europe, and Asia.
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