RE: Wil McCarthy's HACKING MATTER free download

From: Amara D. Angelica (
Date: Wed Jan 04 2006 - 22:27:08 MST

Just posted:, Jan. 5, 2005

The book HACKING MATTER: Levitating Chairs, Quantum Mirages, and the
Infinite Weirdness of Programmable Atoms Hacking Matter "contains a deep
scientific misconception," says a leading nanotechnology expert in response
to our news item Wednesday.

"The 'programmable atoms' of the title are quantum wells, structures much
larger than individual atoms. These wells can have electron wave functions
that resemble atoms in their spatial patterns, but not in scale or energy.
In some places, the book acknowledges that this makes a huge difference
between quantum wells and real atoms. Elsewhere, however, it suggests that
that wells could be very similar to atoms, for example, that a collection of
silicon quantum wells could be given 'the physical, chemical, and electrical
properties of an otherwise impossible gold/silicon alloy' simply by moving a
few electrons in or out of the wells. This won't work because the scale and
energy of the electron wave functions will be nothing at all like those of
electrons in gold.

"To be more concrete, consider an atom of carbon, an atom of lead, and a
'carbon-like' quantum well. Each can have an electron wave function with a
similar spatial pattern, but lead scarcely resembles carbon in its chemical
and physical properties, and the quantum well would have properties vastly
different from either atom. Quantum wells, contrary to the title of the
book, just aren't much like 'programmable atoms.'"

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