NANOCOSM: Nanotechnology and the Big Changes Coming from the Inconceivably Small
Atkinson, who makes his living as a consultant explaining technology to business types, ostensibly wrote a book debunking the myths about nanoscience, a trendy research field that "a fringe of boosters" claims will enable us to develop machines at the molecular level. But that subject is largely lost in a maze of digressions, as Atkinson veers from pretentiousness to chattiness and spends a lot of the book discussing everything except nanotechnology: world politics, the march of time, old jokes and even his interview subjects' workout routines. He offers a sophomoric couplet mocking the author of the most successful book on nanotechnology, cursorily dismissed as an overzealous fantasist, and an inept science-fiction passage attempting to imagine a nanotech-shaped world a decade or so down the road. Atkinson's personal observations mar the narrative: he makes fun of a Swiss scientist's accent and a Japanese woman's inability to pronounce her r's clearly. Every once in a while, there's an attention-grabbing scientific revelation, like a description of how Buckminster Fuller's architectural achievements have turned out to be mirror images of carbon atoms, but these occasional insights are simply not worth slogging through the rest of this book. (May 13)
Forecast:By the time this is published, those interested in nanotechnology will have already picked up a copy of The Next Big Thing Is Really Small: How Nanotechnology Will Change the Future of Your Business (Forecasts, Jan. 6), which essentially covers the same territory much more effectively.