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Travels to the Nanoworld: Miniature Machinery in Nature and Technology Paperback – January 15, 2001


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Imagine a world of invisible servants, nimbly trimming unsightly hairs and whipping up a strawberry mousse while you relax on your 200th birthday. Biochemist Michael Gross takes you there with Travels to the Nanoworld, an explanation and exploration of machines so tiny and complex as to rival the powers of the mightiest magician. The lively, compelling prose introduces the subject bit by bit, sharing the secrets of physics, biochemistry, and engineering with concrete examples, then moves on to current and future research possibilities. You'll visit with scientists who are cooking eggs at room temperature, creating microscopic "buckytubes" of rolled graphite, and digging into our DNA to create the next generation of computers. Gross takes the time to explain his points carefully, but this never detracts from the narrative flow; furthermore, his attention to describing processes and personalities makes the players and even the technology come alive on the page. Whether writing about nanotech guru K. Eric Drexler's unabashed cheerleading or wise guy Richard Feynman's eerie prognostication, he makes the stories so engrossing that it's easy to forget that most of the advances in Travels to the Nanoworld are yet to come. It's a great place to visit, and if we're lucky, we'll get to live there. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 1st edition (January 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738204447
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738204444
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,389,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I found this book incredibly tedious and poorly written. There is indeed some interesting information within, and fascinating tidbits pop up here and there, but on the whole it is very tough to wade through the atrocious prose. I also (like many others it seems) bought the book expecting it to basically be about nanotechnology and how mol. bio. ties in with it, but this theme is rarely discussed. The book tends to ramble on about chemistry and molecular biology, at times in very simple terms anyone can understand (if they care), at times suddenly jumping to textbook-level detail.

I studied molecular biology in university and have a strong interest in nanotechnology, but never have I come across a book which has rendered what I consider some of the most fascinating fields of inquiry so irredeemably dull and lifeless. Even some of my textbooks were more lively. I'm sure this was a well-intentioned effort and the author seems very knowledgeable, but I could barely force myself through this book.

I can't recommend this at all, especially when there are much better and more stimulating alternatives out there, such as Drexler's "Engines of Creation" and "Nanosystems." Pass on this one; save your time and money.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book gives an overview of the exciting world of invisibly small things, be they natural or technological. Nature is shown to be the best engineer on the nanoscale, but human engineers are beginning to learn the lesson. While some of the contents are scientifically explicit, there are goodies for curious readers on all levels of understanding.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Worldreels on April 29, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The crux of the problem is that Gross can't take us on a tour of the picoworld, the femtoworld or the attoworld where the real mechanics of the nanoworld must lie hidden. Depending on the reader's background this book could range from being a big bore to being quite interesting. Most of his speculation about nanotechnology is borrowed from Drexler. If you've read Drexler there is no point in rereading it here. However briefly, he does warn that this fiddling in the nanoworld could result in ultimate bacterial weapons and freaky humans. Boiling down the message-much of Gross' nanoworld tour consists of illustrating activity within cells and bacteria. He is like a man looking at a bird in flight and saying, "Look, man can fly too." When he goes off on tangents like the blue rose, the green genes and pressure squeezed eggs the reader realizes he is grasping at straws.
Much of the book explains how x-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy, and laser pulse photography are used to magnify and stop the action occurring within the animal cell. In this way he reduces life, the cellular processes, to those like message transmission, transport, protein folding, and protein synthesis /catalysis. He speaks of the new fields of biotechnology and genetic engineering to change the DNA blueprint but that is what evolution has been doing for billions of years. What's new here beyond splicing into the bacteria's DNA to create drugs like insulin or frost proof vegetables?
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Eric Bauswell on September 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book was a relatively quick read. It covers most of the basics without burying the novice (like myself) in the wealth of details in some of the more advanced books on the subject.

Nanosystems and Engines of Creation are two great books for more on nanotechnology by Eric Drexler.

Take a look at [...]
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