NISE Net is the new grey goo!

Larry Bell

"The Network is going to grow. I don’t think you can stop it or control it even if you wanted to." So said, Cal Tech nano researcher Mamadou Diallo, a member of the NISE Net’s NSF review panel at a meeting about nano education at the University of Southern California on April 27. Didn’t Michael Crichton predict a similar thing in his novel Prey? NISE Net Program Manager Vrylena Olney saw the similarity. In Prey out-of-control self-replicating nano-sized robots wipe out everything else on earth resulting in grey goo, a term originally coined by Eric Drexler in his book Engines of Creation.

Well it wasn’t grey goo, but NISE Net green was all over this conference at USC. The NanoDays banner was hanging on the registration table for the conference and all the badges and program material bore graphics from the NISE Net NanoDays kit. It wasn’t NanoDays at USC but the NanoDays graphics had mutated to become the graphics for this nano education conference.

Beyond the graphics, parts of the NanoDays kit were on display and there was a lot of interest in the NISE Net. Julie Dillemuth of UC Santa Barbara said she wanted to share the materials they’ve developed with the NISE Net, and Courtney Corda of Science Buddies, a science fair project website with 10,000,000 users, was looking for ideas for nano science fair projects. Aldrin Sweeney of the University of Central Florida reconfirmed his interest in creating an informal education issue of the new Journal of Nano Education.

Building links between the various educational groups involved in nano education was a key focus of the conference on Partnership for Nanotechnology Education at USC. The NISE Net’s emerging hub-and-spoke network structure provides opportunities for linking the NISE Net with others kinds of educational groups at the local level and at the Network level. We are currently proposing a budget to NSF that will allow us to direct funds in years 6-10 to take advantage of opportunities that arise along the way.

We don’t really want to eat up everything else, like the fictitious self-replicating robots in Prey, but infecting folks with an interest in nano education is right in line with the NISE Net’s mission.