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This sprawling and fascinating book explores biology, technology, agriculture, neurology and economics, among other disciplines. It contends that systems and ways of thinking based on the machine age must and will change in light of new discoveries in biology. Robert Frenay provides prodigious research and some impressive reporting. One caveat: His discussion of economics and the monetary system seems to be based on somewhat arguable information about the workings of the Federal Reserve and the Eurodollar market. The author's passion for the subject of biology is clear, and getAbstract finds that much of what he says is interesting. The book is not so much a narrative as a catalogue of facts, experiments and initiatives in various fields, with an accompanying argument against today's corporations and monetary systems that will challenge executives and economists.


Thinking Small

Richard Feynman, the great physicist, laid the foundations of nanotechnology when he suggested, in a 1959 speech, that some day humans might be able to construct objects by assembling atoms. In 1986, a book by K. Eric Drexler described machines operating at the molecular level to assemble various products. In short order, companies began experiments in applied nanotechnology. IBM, for example, arranged atoms in rows to spell out its corporate logo, and DuPont built a new protein molecule. Now, four decades after Feynman's speech, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and IBM are investigating nanolevel computing; the cosmetics company L'Oréal uses nanocapsules in skin creams; and companies as diverse as Wilson Sporting Goods, General Motors, PPG, Pilkington and Eddie Bauer are applying nanotechnology in their manufacturing processes. Two broad schools of thought direct the progress of nanotechnology. One sees nanotechnology as an extension of the machine age, with tiny machines building things atom by atom. The other looks for inspiration not to machines, but to organic processes, and aims to emulate living cells.

Nanotechnology is not the only field in which researchers...

About the Author

Robert Frenay is a freelance writer living in New York. A former contributing editor for Audubon magazine, he covered developments in the interface of nature and technology.

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