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Scientists Build Graphene From Scratch, Atom By Atom

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the i-bet-that-goes-quick dept.

Hardware 185

MrSeb writes "You've heard of 'designer babies,' the idea that you can customize a baby by altering its DNA, but now a team of researchers from Stanford University and the Department of Energy have meddled around with the very fabric of reality and created the very first 'designer electrons.' The bulk of the universe is made up from just a few dozen elements, and each of these elements is made up of just a few subatomic particles: electrons, protons, neutrons, quarks, and so on. For the most part, the properties of every material — its flexibility, strength, conductivity — is governed by the bonds between its constituent atoms, which in turn dictate a molecule's arrangement of electrons. In short, if you can manually move electrons around, you can create different or entirely new materials. That's exactly what Stanford University has done: Using a scanning tunneling microscope, the team of researchers placed individual carbon monoxide molecules on a clean sheet of copper to create 'molecular graphene' — an entirely new substance that definitely isn't graphene, but with electrons that act a lot like graphene (abstract). It is now possible, then, for scientists to create entirely new materials or tweak existing materials — like silicon or copper, or another important element — to make them stronger or more conductive. Where will this particular avenue lead us?"

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185 comments

Alchemy? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39392415)

Is this alchemy?

Re:Alchemy? (0)

sugapablo (600023) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392425)

That's kind of what I was thinking.

Re:Alchemy? (2)

CPNABEND (742114) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392453)

I think the bigger question is, "how would you move this process to a FAB"? I don't think it will happen soon, but it seems to me we would need robotic STMs? Research is continuing... I assume.

Re:Alchemy? (3, Insightful)

NicknameAvailable (2581237) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392487)

I think the bigger question is, "how would you move this process to a FAB"? I don't think it will happen soon, but it seems to me we would need robotic STMs? Research is continuing... I assume.

Nice generic smaller technology quip, but I think you missed the point of TFA and what the posters you were responding to (hint, they read and understood it). You should actually read it, its more about a change in the understanding of physics than new chips.

They read and understood which citation? (5, Informative)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392681)

I think the bigger question is, "how would you move this process to a FAB"? I don't think it will happen soon, but it seems to me we would need robotic STMs? Research is continuing... I assume.

Nice generic smaller technology quip, but I think you missed the point of TFA and what the posters you were responding to (hint, they read and understood it). You should actually read it, its more about a change in the understanding of physics than new chips.

I don't think so. The cited and heavily quoted article seems to start with a fundamental misunderstanding of freshman level physics: "the bulk of the universe is made up from just a few dozen elements, and each of these elements is made up of just a few subatomic particles: electrons, protons, neutrons, quarks, and so on". Quarks are not subatomic particles, they are the elemental particles that subatomic particles are made from. In other words your proton is made of quarks. That makes phrases like "meddled around with the very fabric of reality" a bit suspicious. Reading the article confirms this suspicion.

If you look at the second citation, the one from real scientists, they are using phrases like "new nanoscale materials with useful electronic properties". So if you only read the fist citation then yes we are on the verge of star fleet manual type science. However if you the second article we are closer to new fabrication technologies.

Re:They read and understood which citation? (0)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#39393027)

You tried and succeeded in outsmarting yourself into perpetuating your ignorance: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subatomic_particles [wikipedia.org]

Congratulations.

Re:They read and understood which citation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39393075)

After reading your link, I don't see how he was ignorant.

Re:They read and understood which citation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39393113)

Sub-sub-atomic particles are still sub-atomic particles, by definition of the sub- prefix.

Re:They read and understood which citation? (-1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#39393185)

Sub Atomic particles are smaller than atoms. Quarks are smaller than atoms. Quarks are sub atomic particles, by all definitions. He said they weren't. That's how he is ignorant. And the ignorant was about something he was trying to educate others on (poorly).

Re:They read and understood which citation? (0)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#39393413)

You tried and succeeded in outsmarting yourself into perpetuating your ignorance: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subatomic_particles [wikipedia.org] Congratulations.

Not really. All you can say is that I mixed up the nomenclature of "subatomic particles" and "composite particles". My underlying point stands, that protons and quarks are different levels of abstraction, that protons are composed of quarks. If you consider failing to refer to protons as composite particles, despite functionally identifying them as such, as some great ignorance - well than that is an unique interpretation.

The quotation I objected to listed quarks on par with protons, the objection to this also remains standing.

Alchemy is Nuclear Physics (5, Interesting)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 2 years ago | (#39393119)

Alchemy happens when you change the nucleus of the atom, not the electrons. For example, in a nuclear reactor when you split Uranium or Plutonium and create entirely different daughter atoms which different numbers of protons in the nucleus than the parent had. Or, in fusion when you combine two nuclei into a single daughter nucleus.

Simply arranging atoms without changing what element they are, would not really be alchemy as the term is generally understood.

Re:Alchemy? (1)

Deathmoo (2578761) | more than 2 years ago | (#39393139)

"One of the wildest things we did was to make the electrons think they are in a huge magnetic field..."

Whoah... I'm caught on this bit, how can you FOOL an electron? Insane, I love it.

Re:Alchemy? (4, Insightful)

Hartree (191324) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392543)

No, it's not alchemy.

It's just a slight riff on things we've been doing for a long time. Placing atoms or molecules in layers or patterns so that their associated electrons have certain characteristics.

We've been doing patterning of atoms/molucules with STMs for decades now.

It's interesting work, but the description seems awfully breathless.

"Meddling with the very fabric of reality"?

Gimme a break. *eye-roll*

Re:Alchemy? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39392705)

We've been doing patterning of atoms/molucules with STMs for decades now.

What we haven't figured out yet after many, many decades is how to cure the disease called homosexuality.

God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve! You think people could understand something so simple. Genesis 1 is not that hard to comprehend.

"Meddling with the very fabric of reality"?

More like meddling with the very fabric of society which is marriage and the nuclear family. Gays and lesbians were not so terrible back when it was discreet and just between the two homosexuals behind closed doors. The danger is now there is a gay agenda. They cannot reproduce so they must recruit. In the name of political correctness they teach schoolchildren that gays and lesbians are perfectly normal and not the deviant perverts they truly are. Poor kids don't know better. That is the threat.

Re:Alchemy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39392781)

There were no computers in the Garden of Eden, either. Yet, there you are.

There are no hotels on the board when you start a game of Monopoly, but that does not mean that hotels were never intended.

Re:Alchemy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39392925)

I've always wondered what is this agenda? What are they recruiting for? Puzzle me this, Riddler!

Re:Alchemy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39392769)

Where's the Ka-Boom? There was supposed to be an earth-shattering Ka-Boom!
Aren't we building an Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Mod-u-lat-or?

Re:Alchemy? (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392867)

Indeed. The article appears to have been written by a wide-eyed journalist with a poor grasp of basic physics and chemistry. The authors confusion between electrons and atoms is clear from the text.

One slightly mitigating factor is the nature of the research, which appears to use physical arrangements of atoms to induce new types of electro-chemical bonding. The research appears to cajole electrons into various chemical bond arrangements by moving C-O molecules into patterns upon a copper grid. It appears that the atoms are being directly controlled, not the electrons.

From what I can guess from the ravings in the article, the electrons probably just hop in or out of the valence band of the copper to facilitate the formation of these giant "oxy-carbon" molecules. I assume a sufficiently literate chemistry geek would actually be able to put a name on the molecules being formed, similar to those on hydrocarbon molecules.

Or the whole article could have been the result of the authors lsd trip. Who knows?

Re:Alchemy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39392933)

"written by a wide-eyed journalist with a poor grasp of basic physics and chemistry."

Oh, a Space Nutter, basically. Here we have a programmable matter nutter, I guess.

Re:Alchemy? (1)

alexgieg (948359) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392873)

"Meddling with the very fabric of reality"? Gimme a break. *eye-roll*

True enough. Something that'd merely *approach* meddling with the fabric of reality would be, let's say, some kind of bomb that once detonated changed the local space-time curvature, as in, were you to bring a ruler and/or a clock and you'd notice now empty space itself was measuring differently, provided "measuring" was still a meaningful concept. To actually meddle with reality, though, you'd need something way more powerful, let's say, a way to make math itself work differently there, as in, "over there 2+2 now is 5, and 3+3 equals -1, but we don't know more because entering it means instant never-having-existed".

Re:Alchemy? (3, Informative)

burningcpu (1234256) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392969)

This comment on the main page does a better job of explaining what is going on than the article and summary.
You are not doing a good job of explaining what is going on (mainly because it is hard to do in one article and is beyond the scope of what your editor wanted). Each different element has a differing ability to attract electrons, this is based upon the number of orbitals filled, or left vacant from their spot in the atomic table. In general elements react according to how many orbitals they have open. Carbon has 4 open spots in its orbital pattern. Hydrogen has 1. Thus when carbon and hydrogen react they can produce methane (CH4). Benzene rings are the basic structure behind graphene, they are particularly unusual because the shape of the orbitals are modified by the 3 dimensional shape of the ring of carbon atoms. This shape in turn, causes the P orbital to become displaced above and below the plane of the carbon ring. The voodoo or magic that happens here is what has everyone excited about graphene. This displaced orbital completely changes the properties of carbon. The only similar type of chemical properties that exist in our world are the properties of living organisms. Not surprisingly, living organisms are full of molecules that have benzine rings in them. What this article is saying is that we will be able to make new materials based upon carefully spacing the placement of atoms on a layer on top of the material that is shaped like the spacing in graphene. This mimics the deformation of the p orbital that carbon has. It is not exactly like it which is even more exciting because it will allow for even more specialized forms of material to be made. The electrons in the example were actually in a magnetic field made by the atoms of the material rather than from the surrounding area. This is an example of quantum mechanical effects effecting the broader material and is another exciting aspect of these experiments.

Nano-tech like this will not directly allow the production of elements (gold, platinum ect.) It will make whole new combinations of materials that could not even be imagined by a scientist before this study. Reading between the lines here, what we are seeing is that contrary to current speculation in popular press, the limitations placed upon Moore's Law by the properties of atoms is not a bad thing. It will in all probability allow us to build materials and manipulate matter in ways that were blocked by our inability to control masses of specific atoms in specific ways. A bike built from the placement of individual atoms in specific places will be incredibly light, durable and cheaply made by machines alone. The boundary between living matter and dead will be much harder to see because materials used in ordinary items will have some of the same kinds of strength, regeneration, self replication, and beauty that we associate with living things."

Re:Alchemy? (4, Funny)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39393243)

"Meddling with the very fabric of reality"?

Gimme a break. *eye-roll*

Yeah, they're doing that over at CERN anyway. You haven't lived until you've shaken hands with your nega-universe self and then awkwardly made out with each other. His goatee was kinda itchy though.

FREE GOLD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39392611)

That's what they should make.

Re:Alchemy? (2)

poity (465672) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392825)

the forces holding the nucleus together is many MANY times greater than the bonds holding molecules together (think difference between nuclear bomb vs acid/base reaction). IANAPhysicist, but I think the only place you can get anything close to alchemy would be in a nuclear reactor (nuclear decay would be a kind of undirected alchemy). This process seems to me like "chemistry one-atom-at-a-time." Imagine regular chemistry as making bread dough, you put flour and water together and get an uneven (at the molecular level) glob, with some parts a little drier, some wetter. With this process, you can actually build a perfectly uniform and homogeneous dough -- one water, one flour, one water, one flour, and on and on. With that in mind then, the first thing that comes to mind is super strong materials (uniform at molecular level = no weak points where tears/ruptures can develop)

Re:Alchemy? ALCHEMY! (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392939)

Is this alchemy?

Of course it is.

I guess the best we can hope for (and I'm completely serious here) is that this team of researchers from Stanford and the DOE spent a little time doing purification rites and getting their heads straight before undertaking these experiments. For their sake and ours.

From Isaac Newton and Paracelsus, Flamel and Giordano Bruno, Trithemius, Trismegistus, Oppenheimer and right on down to Feynman, the guys who deal in and mess with the fundamentals have known that you've got to get your mind right before you dig in and mess with the noodles of reality. Physics and Math go hand in hand with enlightenment, but enlightenment has drier palms.

Otherwise, you end up like Edward Teller, unhappy, cringing, stabbing people in the back, polishing Ronald Reagan's knob and believing you have to blow up the world to save it.

When they say, "A thing worth doing is a thing worth doing right," I think they mean you have to try to get right in order to be right so you can do right. And if you don't know what I mean, or if you think that's all just a lot of hooey, just go be an engineer, please?

Ode to Mr. Scott (1)

Karl Cocknozzle (514413) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392427)

"Transparent aluminum.... It's all there, but it would take years to figure out the dynamics!"

Re:Ode to Mr. Scott (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39392525)

ALUMINIUM

Re:Ode to Mr. Scott (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39392719)

ALUMINIUM

That's not how they pronounced it in the documentary. [youtube.com]

(Sorry I couldn't find a better clip.)

Re:Ode to Mr. Scott (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392961)

I don't care if they pronounce it wrong, as long as its spelt Aluminium

Anyway how can you make transparent Aluminium out of Carbon ?

Building a General Products #2 hull on atom at a time is going to take a while.

To infinity and beyond... (4, Interesting)

Kawahee (901497) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392435)

Where will this particular avenue lead us?

Space Elevators.

Re:To infinity and beyond... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39392477)

Or just jeejahs and Everything Killers.

Re:To infinity and beyond... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39392495)

Where will this particular avenue lead us?

Space Elevators.

The grey goo.

Re:To infinity and beyond... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39392549)

cold fusion.

Re:To infinity and beyond... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39392609)

Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.

Re:To infinity and beyond... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39392907)

meh, space elevators yesterday, we're dreaming of vacuum tube maglev shuttles now.

Moore's law (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39392439)

Does it mean the Moore's law still got some legs?

Issues of scale (4, Insightful)

ancienthart (924862) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392467)

It is now possible, then, for scientists to create entirely new materials or tweak existing materials — like silicon or copper, or another important element — to make them stronger or more conductive. Where will this particular avenue lead us?

Nowhere, unless you only want blocks of it 1 or 2 nanometers across, and are prepared to take a few hours to manufacture it.
In this case, a scanning tunnelling microscope is being used by having a single massive (on an atomic scale) probe manipulating single atoms at a time. Until we can control millions of atoms at this degree of resolution AND at the same time (smaller parallel probes, or some fancy trick with complex electrical fields on a single probe tip), this is scientifically interesting, but useless for the bulk manufacture the poster hints at.

Re:Issues of scale (4, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392531)

Are you merely another "wake me up when you can buy it all Walmart" cargo cult luddite or do you set your sights higher?
Science is often a series of steps instead of great breakthoughs. For example the aluminium metal used around you today was not initially produced by the current method, but instead by an incredibly difficult and expensive method which later inspired other ways to produce it.
Currently we don't know the best way to make graphene but doing it the difficult way that will actually work may inspire a better way to do it and may uncover materials we've never seriously thought of because there's no obvious simple way to do it.

"Currently we don't know the best way to make ..." (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39392805)

"... graphene".

We may not know the best way to make it, but we sure know one that's a hell of a lot simpler and more scalable than assembling it atom by atom, and that's the technique where you pull individual molecular layers off graphite by sticking a piece of sticky tape to it and ripping it off quickly. A chinese factory full of workers doing that all day long will produce a ton of graphene a hell of a lot more quickly and cheaply than anyone with an AFM.

Re:Issues of scale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39393219)

Do you even know what a "cargo cult" is? It's doubtful.

Aluminum was processed by batches that were bigger by several orders of magnitude than what is described in the article, using 19th century technology. If you could just please engage your fucking brain for two minutes and ponder that instead of flying off the handle into sci-fi retard territory, things will be clear.

The article basically describes "how PhDs work" these days. Nothing will come of this stunt, no space elevators, no Mars condos, no Moon ball-bearing factories. Idiot.

Re:Issues of scale (1)

ancienthart (924862) | more than 2 years ago | (#39393379)

My comment was not on the value of the research, but on the lack of vision expressed in the introduction.
"Wow, we can shift atoms around, we can make new materials." Um, not yet, you can't, and not for a fair few years either.

A better response to this new approach might be "Right, now we've got a handle on individual atoms, what cool experiments can we conduct?" As point of fact, you'll find that I see the TRUE value of this as a research tool, rather than just a future production technique.

And for the love of god, stop assuming that everyone who you THINK disagrees with you must be a "cargo cult luddite". That's the sort of crap that stops the general public from listening to scientists.

Re:Issues of scale (2)

tysonedwards (969693) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392563)

This is "useless" with regards to bulk manufacturing procedures as proposed today...

Step 1 is always to figure out whether something is even possible.
What this shows us is that we do have the ability to "dial up" matter characteristics on-demand. Sure, it is highly impractical today, but that is in no way to say that significant research won't now be undertaken to take what now is a cool proof-of-concept and create a practical, workable model to exploit the findings of what we have discovered.

Decades ago, it was also believed that photo lithography was highly impractical, however it now is the dominant method of designing integrated circuits.

Re:Issues of scale (1)

ancienthart (924862) | more than 2 years ago | (#39393351)

Yes, but the original poster made it seem that the most important implication was "customisable materials", which is a fair few years in the future.
I'd be more interested in hearing about the types of matter-matter interactions this enables scientists to investigate.

"What happens when a nobel gas atom is brought near other atoms? Can it's reactivity be altered by near-space effects? Do one-dimensional arrays (not imbedded in support materials) have intrinsic properties that differ from 2 or 3-D arrays? Can we map the effect of strong magnetic fields on bond-lengths directly? Can we build molecules step-by-step, enabling us to fully characterise them spectrographically (rather than simulation), rather than use mass synthesis? Can we make a Quantum Dot this way?"

This is the sort of stuff that this research really enables us to investigate. Customisable materials can be pursued after we've first picked the low-hanging fruit this new step-ladder has made available.

Re:Issues of scale (1)

digitalsolo (1175321) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392577)

True, but it's certainly a field with potential to do amazing things in the future. Hopefully a future sooner than later.

Re:Issues of scale (1)

ancienthart (924862) | more than 2 years ago | (#39393387)

Yes, that was actually my point. The poster's last comment made it seem that the only purpose for pursuing this would be to get a new manufacturing technique.

Re:Issues of scale (1)

Zeikcied (1630059) | more than 2 years ago | (#39393059)

But it is possible. The march of technology will continue to make things cheaper, smaller, and more efficient. It may take decades, but science and technology will no doubt reach the point where it's possible to fabricate resources. Things that used to be finite could one day be created in massive resource manufacturing plants.

And forget genetically modified, we may one day have atomically modified food and materials.

Re:Issues of scale (1)

niftydude (1745144) | more than 2 years ago | (#39393189)

Actually - you can already buy nano dip-pen arrays commercially that can be used for this sort of manufacture.

Basically they are arrays of thousands of atomic force microscopy micro-cantilever tips which can be used to manipulate at the nano-scale.

So there is fab technology which is already heading in this direction.

Aww man! (1)

MarkOden (214497) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392491)

Now can Gold from Lead be far behind?

Its all about the protons (3, Funny)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392571)

Aww man! Now can Gold from Lead be far behind?

Yes, very far. You have to manipulate protons, not electrons, to convert an atom from one element into another element. Sorry, humor has to respect science a little bit. :-)

Re:Its all about the protons (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392739)

You have to manipulate protons, not electrons, to convert an atom from one element into another element.

Bit they're bigger, so it must be easier, right? :-)

Re:Its all about the protons (1)

ancienthart (924862) | more than 2 years ago | (#39393501)

You have to manipulate protons, not electrons, to convert an atom from one element into another element.

Bit they're bigger, so it must be easier, right? :-)

Much the same way it's easier to hit a bigger, stronger guy than a scrawny weakling. You'll hit the target okay, but then they get to hit back. :D

Re:Aww man! (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392589)

Probably not, but even if it could be done cheaply, all you would have is gold worth as much as lead

Re:Aww man! (1)

Kreigaffe (765218) | more than 2 years ago | (#39393115)

You absolutely CAN produce gold from other base elements. Offhandedly I'm not sure if lead is what you'd want to start with or not.. but all it takes is adding energy to the system, and suddenly kaboom.

The problem is the energy required to do that is pretty prohibitive and the amounts you can make pretty small, so it's a net loss of money. But you CAN do it.

Re:Aww man! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39393221)

Good. Maybe then all those idiots who constantly talk about the infallibility of the gold standard would shut up.

Re:Aww man! (1)

ancienthart (924862) | more than 2 years ago | (#39393407)

It is pie in the sky stuff to talk about mass synthesis of gold from other elements, but if we could do it cheaply, it would mean we could
a) coat everything metallic in gold as a super-corrosion-resistant covering, or
b) alloy cheaper metals with gold to make the corrosion-resistance intrinsic,
c) use gold-alloys in biomedical implants to reduce rejection.

Re:Aww man! (0)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 2 years ago | (#39393161)

I was reading somewhere that apparently it's thought that turning lead into gold would be theoretically possible, but would require such a massive amount of energy, that the price of the energy would far exceed the value of the resulting gold.

I mean, if you got a few Billion to build your own nuclear reactor, you might be able to transmute a few micrograms of gold.

Magnets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39392505)

And you thought alchemists were ludicrous?

Not anymore... If only we could understand how magnets worked!

Designer baby doesn't mean what you think it means (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39392509)

"You've heard of 'designer babies,' the idea that you can customize a baby by altering its DNA"

I have not heard of this. Doesn't the term 'designer baby' refer to selecting an embryo for in vitro fertilisation that has the genes you want? The DNA isn't altered; you just choose the one you want from existing DNA.

Re:Designer baby doesn't mean what you think it me (4, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392569)

"Designer baby" is just a buzzphrase. It serves no purpose other than to derogate people who might want to reduce the role of chance in the genetics of their children. It means whatever the speaker wants it to mean.

Re:Designer baby doesn't mean what you think it me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39392905)

Considering that the quoted meaning is consistent with the meaning of the word "designer" and your version isn't, I'm going to go with the quoted one. Although that doesn't mean that random media morons blurt out the phrase every five minutes without bothering to think whether it's appropriate to the topic they're talking about....

Summary is loony even for Slashdot. (5, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392511)

What the hell does this guy think he's talking about? The article is interesting but "designer babies"? "The fabric of reality"? Where do you people get this stuff?

Re:Summary is loony even for Slashdot. (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392957)

"designer babies"? "The fabric of reality"? Where do you people get this stuff?

The Bodganov brothers [wikipedia.org] used to be an excellent source for that kind of stuff

Re:Summary is loony even for Slashdot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39393069)

Um, Slashdot is the central hub of the Space Nutter religion, where sci-fi daydreams are the cold, hard currency of the geek religion. What religion? That life is just a series of events destined, yes, destined, to get the entire human species "off this rock". There's already a Space Elevator prayer a bit further up. Maybe you haven't noticed, but outside of software, the slash crowd is anti-science, anti-reality and deeply religious about space.

The bulk of the universe... Wrong! (5, Informative)

FridayBob (619244) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392575)

... The bulk of the universe is made up from just a few dozen elements, and each of these elements is made up of just a few subatomic particles: electrons, protons, neutrons, quarks, and so on. ...

Wrong! The bulk of the universe -- about 70% -- is made of dark energy and we have no idea what that's made of. Then there's dark matter -- about 25% (no idea what that's made of either) -- while less than 5% is made of normal, barionic matter (electrons, protons, neutrons, quarks, and so on).

Re:The bulk of the universe... Wrong! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39392743)

Isn't the bulk of the universe energy in one state or another, and the rest vacuum?

Re:The bulk of the universe... Wrong! (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392831)

Isn't the bulk of the universe energy in one state or another, and the rest vacuum?

I don't know about the whole universe, but the summary for this article certainly sucked.

Re:The bulk of the universe... Wrong! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39392819)

For a moment I was thinking "bulk" in the context of brain cosmology.

FRIB (4, Interesting)

quetwo (1203948) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392615)

Too bad the government is canceling most of the funding that is going towards moving this type of research forward. The FRIB (Federal Rare Isotopes Beam) project, currently under construction in Michigan had most of its funding cut for the budget this coming year. Congress is claiming that the research is better done in France with the current accelerator (which will be half-way through its useful life when the FRIB is expected to go online).

But hey, why spend money on furthering science and building your ability to be a "thinking" country (we've already given up the ability to be a "making" country), when you can give it to people who just gamble it on the markets and push money around?

Approaching The New Age? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39392619)

With this announcement, essentially something similar to what I've been waiting on for the better part of a decade, I have to ask if this is where identying the Higgs Boson comes into play. By identifying the Higgs, I thought the idea was to complete a working model for a Unified Theory.

Now introduce this experiment and a working model for Unification. We can then create any molecule we see fit, given the appropriate equipment, with any properties we deem necessary. This may sounds like science fiction, but I've always thought this type of breakthrough, is where a 'New Age' of materials, technology, and overall social efficiency, would spawn. Would I be giving away my idea if I proposed some 'molecular suggestion' software based on a complete model of Unification, coupled with some better than most AI, against some statistically applied physics modeling? I hope I'm not the only who's looking for this type of scientific crossroads.

Here's to hoping such a breakthrough occurs sooner, rather than later.

Re:Approaching The New Age? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39392851)

>"With this announcement, essentially something similar to what I've been waiting on for the better part of a decade, I have to ask if this is where identying the Higgs Boson comes into play."

No.

Just because there are two things that you don't understand, doesn't mean that they are related.

"Designer electrons", "Meddled with the fabric of" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39392701)

"... reality".

What a fatuous bunch of crap. This is PR bullspeak, not science. The way that they conflate electrons and molecules (from TFA: "In short, if you can manually move electrons around, you can create different or entirely new materials. Thatâ(TM)s exactly what Stanford University has done: Using a scanning tunneling microscope (the blue point in the image above), the team of researchers placed individual carbon monoxide molecules") pretty much convicts them of ignorance.

Also, this was first done by the researchers from IBM who spelled out "IBM" in individual atoms more than two decades ago now. This story is about some other people who have done the same thing years later and think they deserve everyone's noses crammed up their arses for it. Screw them.

Re:"Designer electrons", "Meddled with the fabric (0)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392757)

IBM used whole atoms, these guys on the other hand are moving single electrons and manage to get a stable orbit for them around the nucleus. That's quite a large difference. Though I do agree that this has been done before.

Re:"these guys [...] are moving single electrons" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39392783)

No they aren't, at least according to TFA. Let me remind you of the quote, which you seemed to miss in my last post:

>"To make the structure, which Manoharan calls molecular graphene, the scientists use a scanning tunneling microscope to place individual carbon monoxide molecules on a perfectly smooth copper surface."

If that's not good enough for you, this is from the actual abstract on nature.com:

>"Here we report the emergence of Dirac fermions in a fully tunable condensed-matter systemâ"molecular grapheneâ"assembled by atomic manipulation of carbon monoxide molecules over a conventional two-dimensional electron system at a copper surface"

They are clearly manipulating molecules, not even atoms.

The cynic in me (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392853)

is looking forward to seeing how our masters will maintain scarcity.

Re:The cynic in me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39392895)

Oil.

Re: how our masters will maintain scarcity. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39392929)

Well, until atomic force microscopes are a dime a dozen, I don't think that will even be an issue.

Where will this lead? (2)

prisoner-of-enigma (535770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392869)

To replicators, of course. Star Trek-style replicators, not Stargate-style replicators, for those of you inclined to think every new technology is going to destroy humanity.

Granted, assembling a few atoms in a lab is a far cry from replicating food, parts, and so forth, but the principle is the same. Fabrication at the sub-atomic level gives us the ability to replicate damned near anything. Once can only imagine how disruptive such a technology will be when things like gold, diamonds, and currency can be perfectly replicated by anyone with access to such a machine.

Re:Where will this lead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39393057)

Star Trek only has Spock. Stargate has MacGyver. He can make a Stargate-style replicator out of a rubber band, paper clip and a wad of chewing gum.

Re:Where will this lead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39393447)

To "established men sugar daddy dating", where beautiful girls and successful men meet.

I think they got suckered... (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39392883)

Yeah, they thought they were getting the fancy "designer electrons". But what they actually got was regular electrons with a fancy label. Because electrons are totally fungible; they're all the same and one's just as good as another.

electrons? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39392947)

I guess I'm old fashioned' but don't we manipulate electrons a the time? You know... Like e fluorescent light bulb?
I wouldn't call that anything new...

Raiders of the Lost Ark effect?!? (1)

axlr8or (889713) | more than 2 years ago | (#39393035)

It'll get shoveled on down to all the 'important discoveries' warehouse like the Ark did at the end of the movie. There will be no more important discoveries that aren't raped by a corporation first.

Beam me up Scotty! (1)

cmeans (81143) | more than 2 years ago | (#39393049)

So, now we can assemble the molecules, just add in disassembling (or at least being able to read/scan what molecules are present etc.) and we've got beaming technology. Sorry that we'll have to kill you after we copy you (once we've got confirmation that your copy has been assembled at the destination), but the copy probably won't mind.

let me guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39393103)

they patented the atoms thus they own EVERYTHING.
WOOT .............PROFIT............. PAY ............THEM............ NOW.
I also had to add this line cause the stupid filter doesn't know that caps can be used for emphasus.

do7\l (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39393455)

Correct net3ork

O3 vs Methane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39393467)

Huh sounds cool maybe we can mess up photosynthesis again and only live to be 11 years old, producing ozone instead as quick fix.

Nowhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39393489)

To answer the question, nowhere. Well maybe faster computers, and a few other innovations.

I know someone who just stopped working for a top research facility doing exactly this sort of stuff. This person and this person's colleagues believe that applications certainly won't happen during our lifetimes and may never. There needs to be a greater emphasis on pushing forward the state of experimental results (like this) and less on the theory which is so much farther advanced that it's reached the point of absurdity. Theorists are fond of claiming that these are simply engineering problems, but in my opinion they are just mental masturbators who's hold on reality is tenuous at best. There is a very high chance that much of the theory is worthless because the engineering problems are simply not tractable.

-Fan of economic rationalism.

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