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The Napster of Nano

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I’ve written before about Tim Harper’s efforts to fight not only the perception that nanotechnology will widen the gap between the developing and developed worlds, but also to prevent this “nano divide” from becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Thus, his latest idea: Nanotech file sharing.

Harper, chief executive of the nanotech business research firm Cientifica, and others who understand the real potential of nanotech as a great equalizer are telling nations and communities, rich and poor, that the ability to create and manipulate nanoscale materials can be achieved by any local economy and tailored to solve local problems. The big bullies have no secret formula that they can use to play keep-away from the weaker kids.

But there is a problem when it comes to equal access to information. The rich can pay for it, and the poor cannot. This digital divide and economic disparity was not created by nanotechnology, and Harper’s company is doing its small part to try to correct it by making nanotechnology white papers, usually fairly costly, available for free. He’s started with a group of 15 of them, available for free download here, from fullerenes to quantum dots.

Granted, the availability of free PDF files (a kind of nano Kazaa?) is not exactly forgiveness of Third-World debt, but Tim tells me there will be more information available later, plus I believe the free flow of information and ideas is an encouraging beginning — and a move that others should emulate.

For the complete commentary, please see Howard Lovy’s Nanobot.

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