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Joseph Schumpeter ... Meet Dr. Feynman

S. Malhotra

Keywords: nanotechnology, business, economic impact

The origins of Nanotechnology can be traced back to the Dr. Richard Feynman's talk 'There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom' at the American Physical Society meeting at Caltech on December 29, 1959. In the following excerpt from this famous talk, Feynman issued a Grand Challenge, of fabricating materials and devices at the atomic and molecular scale, to the scientific community. "What I want to talk about is the problem of manipulating and controlling things on a small scale. What I have demonstrated is that there is room---that you can decrease the size of things in a practical way. I now want to show that there is plenty of room. I will not now discuss how we are going to do it but only what is possible in principle---in other words, what is possible according to the laws of physics...we are not doing it simply because we haven't yet gotten around to it." The dream set forth by Feynman, a Nobel Laureate in Physics, is on the threshold of being translated into reality in the year 2003 - forty-three years after his visionary remarks. This is principally a result of the colossal global scientific and technological infrastructure that we have created in industry, academia, and government research labs. It is undoubtedly the result of tireless efforts by the brilliant minds of science in concert with the creative minds of business. Nanotechnology will impact every sector of the economy, and thereby every dimension of our lives. The worlds of information technology, human medicine, energy, and materials will undergo broad and far-reaching transformation in coming years. And with such disruptive changes on the horizon, Joseph Schumpeter enters the picture. According to this erstwhile Professor of Economics at Harvard University, the central question is not "how capitalism administers existing structures, but how it creates and destroys them." Innovation by the entrepreneur, motivated by profit, will lead to gales of creative destruction fueled by Nanotechnology. In this talk, Sandeep Malhotra will present his ideas on how Feyman's scientific vision will come to fruition through Schumpeter's economic philosophy. Nanotechnology, an enabling technology, will neither bear fruit overnight, nor will it receive the hype that Wall Street often accords to new waves of technology. Instead it will be widely pervasive, albeit transparent

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