From Inner Space to Outer Space:
Speaker to explore atoms, one molecule at a time
Man-made products are created from
atoms. The properties of those products depend greatly on how the
atoms are arranged. By rearranging the atoms in coal, we can make
diamonds. By rearranging the atoms in sand (and adding just a few
other trace elements), we can make computer chips. If we rearrange
the atoms in dirt, water and air, we can make potatoes!
Todays manufacturing methods
are crude at the molecular level. It's like trying to make things
out of LEGO blocks with boxing gloves on your hands. According to
researcher Dr. Ralph Merkle, molecular manufacturing, or
nanotechnology, will let us take off those boxing gloves. We'll be
able to snap together the fundamental building blocks of nature
easily, inexpensively and in almost any arrangement that we
Merkle, principal fellow at Zyvex,
Co., in Richardson, TX, will present "Nanotechnology and Space" at
a colloquium at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7, at NASA Langley's H.J.E.
Reid Conference Center.
Media Briefing: A media briefing will be held
at 1:15 p.m. at the H.J.E. Reid Conference Center, 14 Langley
Blvd., at NASA Langley Research Center. Media who wish to attend
should contact Kimberly W. Land (757) 864-9885.
Merkle will explain how
nanotechnology will be essential if we want to continue the
revolution in computer hardware beyond the next decade. He will
also describe how we can design materials with a strength-to-weight
ratio over 50 times that of steel, which indicates we could reduce
the weight of spacecraft and increase payload.
Merkle will explore the theory
that reduced size and weight of molecular computers and sensors can
usher in a new era to space exploration. He believes that space
will be a place we can visit, vacation, and live -- within the
lifetimes of many of us.
In 1979, Merkle received his
doctorate from Stanford University, where he co-invented public key
cryptography. He joined Xerox PARC in 1988, working in
computational nanotechnology until 1999. Merkle continues
nanotechnology research as a principal fellow at Zyvex, the first
molecular nanotechnology company. His achievements include the 1998
Feynman Prize for Nanotechnology for theory, the ACM's Kanellakis
Award for Theory and Practice, and the 2000 RSA Award in
Mathematics. Merkle has published many of his works and holds eight
- end -
NASA Responsible Official: Cheryl W. Cleghorn
Page Curator: Robert D.