The end of the beginning

The project outlines are now published, so that draws a line under the first phase of this Ideas Factory. The participants themselves have a bit more work to do, and are no doubt as we speak struggling with their universities’ administrations to define the costings. Then, when all the bureaucracy is done, the exciting and difficult bit starts – getting the work going and making a success of these ambitious and visionary proposals.

At the close of the week, I made some remarks to the effect that we could judge the success of the Ideas Factory by the degree to which the ideas that had been generated exceeded the resources put at its disposal. As David Bott commented a week ago, to fulfill all their ambitions in full, the three projects approved would probably have needed about double the money available. The £1.5 million assigned to them will enable them to get going and make considerable progress, and I’m confident that the ideas are so compelling, and the teams so strong that further funding will materialise from somewhere. But there were other good ideas that were discarded on the way, there are other scientists who I’m sure will want to get involved; there’s a much bigger potential program here than these initial resources can fund. We – that is the scientist participants, the mentors, and, I hope, our funders – will be working together over the coming months and years to keep this momentum going and to make that bigger program a reality.

For the moment, this probably marks the last of this series of regular posts on this blog. I’ll be returning to tending my own blog Soft Machines, but if there are more developments to report on the Software Control of Matter project we’ll report on them here. I think the blog experiment has been a great success; the 20 posts so far generated 171 comments and have been viewed more that 6,500 times in the two and a half weeks its been going. I’d like to thank everyone who has commented for their contributions; they’ve all been valuable, whether they have been detailed technical suggestions, encouraging words, or simply an appreciation of what we’ve been trying to do.

Richard Jones


4 Responses to “The end of the beginning”

  1. 1 Martin G. Smith January 20, 2007 at 7:46 pm

    Richard, and All – I realize it is unnecessary to reiterate word I have written before, as they all remain for all to read. However, the past two weeks have been an exciting time within my circle, what was seen as too far out there for mere mortals to grasp has been brought into sharp focus for a group who never thought they would ever have a chance to see such things, let alone actually have a chance to contribute.
    There remains, of course the issue of continuing the funding beyond the initial level, and I have written on this and will respond to anyone who asks. For ourselves, the rapidly germinating, if rudimentary Nanolab at Camp One is about three week short of having specifications finalized. One of the benefits of being a Register Vessel is that one needs to comply with standards but does not need permission to do so.
    It is a exciting time and with much work left to be done before each project starts, we leave the team off to do the necessary slogging to get to the start line and watch with anticipation for progress.
    Best wishes to all.
    Martin G. Smith – Coordinator
    RedSeven Services – ABOTA*
    [A Bridge Over The Abyss]
    Camp One – Hesquait [Gold River]
    British Columbia, Canada

  2. 2 Richard Jones January 21, 2007 at 7:25 am

    Martin, thanks for all your contributions. It’s been fascinating to hear that our efforts have generated so much interest with the people you’ve been working with; good luck to you all in your endeavours.

  3. 3 brian wang January 7, 2010 at 12:56 am

    What has happened with these projects ?
    Have there been publications ?

  4. 4 Richard Jones January 7, 2010 at 8:31 am

    The projects are being actively pursued. The best way to look for the outcomes would be to follow the work of the key researchers involved, for example Andrew Turberfield at Oxford, Philip Moriarty at Nottingham and Lee Cronin at Glasgow. As it happens, my own blog Soft Machines features work from two of these groups in its latest entry.

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