Some twenty-seven years later, Eric Drexler again lead the cheer for nanotechnology in a book called "Engines of Creation". How much the field had advanced - and it had, at least, say, in the realm of miniaturized electronics upon silicon substrates - since Feynman's talk was considerable, but still not nearly enough. Many of Drexler's predictions are not even close to coming to pass. Apparently, what Nature hath wrought through dumb luck is a little bit harder than imagined.
In any case, what is interesting about Feynman's lecture is the opening line where he references the quest for the seemingly unlimited limits of cold:
"I imagine experimental physicists must often look with envy at men like Kamerlingh Onnes, who discovered a field like low temperature, which seems to be bottomless and in which one can go down and down".
|Soon, this will all be on a chip|
Or perhaps it will be a change of worldview more than anything else, something along the lines of the resurgence of curiosity and inquiry that occurred back in the 17th century (something which had been generally lacking in Western society for nearly 2,000 years).
Take, for example, the recent work at the Vienna University of Technology (and is there something in the water at Vienna?), which reveals a very interesting intermediate state between chaos and order.
Studies of matter at ultra-low temperatures shows that the process towards thermal equilibrium is much more complex than thought. It appears there is a regime of stable dis-equilibrium that can occur in between. Indeed, couple this with studies of the networking of networks, and it looks as if the concepts of chaos and order need to be tossed out completely. Even the idea of classical equilibrium may be nothing more than a concept - something that does not actually occur in the real world. If so, it may change how we thing about things, from climate change to markets. It may be that there is no such thing as a status quo, and thus, attempting to maintain it may be a fool's errand.
Well, nothing new there, really. Expect the unexpected and all that. But still, I got a weird feeling going on from all this shit...