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'Manhattan Project' Needed for Nano Weapons

Thursday, 21 February 2008 12:05 PM EST

Many of my readers have been asking me to describe nano weapons (as one might describe a machinegun or an “atomic bomb”). It is often forgotten that before the Manhattan Project (1939-1945) the atomic bomb was not a working product, but intellectual or scientific discourses.

Thus, about 24 centuries ago, Democritus discoursed upon atoms (a Greek word). But “atomic bombs” began to take shape in people’s minds only after the Manhattan Project, which finally employed 130,000 people and cost $23 billion in 2007 dollars.

Its map with its 14 major sites looks like a map of the United States, and Britain as well as Canada participated in the Project. It is only after five years of its development of the “atomic bomb” that the latter became a product that could be described.

An e-mail on Feb. 3, 2008, signed “Andreas,” asked me: “Sorry to bother you, but how were nano-weapons brought to your attention?”

I grew up and lived in Soviet Russia as an absolutely implacable and hence absolutely secretive enemy of its dictatorship. That secrecy paid off. Stalin supported the independence of Israel because that was part of the disintegration of the British empire. Accordingly, Golda Meir praised Stalin and the “Soviet” regime.

So in 1969 when Golda Meir became the prime minister of Israel, the Soviet dictatorship decided to let some impeccably Soviet Jews emigrate to Israel. No one could deny my Jewishness since, while one of my Russian father’s next of kin was a nationally famous ballet dancer, on my mother’s side there were 24 generations of rabbis.

I was impeccably Soviet, since I had never been noticed by the Soviet secret police as saying anything anti-Soviet.

I was the first (and last?) citizen of Soviet Russia to translate Russian classical literature into English, and hence I, my wife and our son, resided in a three-storied country house, which we bought for 150,000 rubles, and which could cost millions of dollars in the United States today. Let the Israeli learn how “ordinary Soviet people” live without any official rank or party membership!

But as soon as we were outside “Soviet” Russia, we made for the United States, since the destiny of the free world, including Israel, was decided in the United States, not in Israel.

Indeed, I had an important message for the United States.

An international book-sized journal named “Nuclear Physics” was published in the 1960s in English, and my wife was the editor of its Soviet branch at the Nuclear Physics Institute of the Academy of Sciences. The director of the Institute was Dmitriy Skobeltsyn, one of the founders of the Soviet nuclear physics, and the Institute’s research associates included world-known nuclear physicists.

One fine day in the 1960s Skobeltsyn announced at a meeting of the staff that the Institute would no longer be engaged in nuclear physics, though the staff members would retain their salaries to qualify in post-nuclear fields.

When we found ourselves in New York in 1972, I went to The New York Times since Ray Anderson, its Moscow correspondent, had called the editors and advised them to receive me. I told them that nuclear weapons were over in Soviet Russia. In 1959, Richard P. Feynman, an American physicist of genius, had made a report entitled “There Is Plenty of Room at the Bottom” (of a molecule) and opening new ways to the development of new weapons, more advanced than nuclear weapons. The New York Times editors had probably never heard of Feynman or of Skobeltsyn. The results of my visit were nil.

However, I had a call from William C. West, a senior CIA analyst. He had asked a Russian-language émigré periodical who of the new émigrés was likely to have brought some information valuable for the defense of the West, and they gave him my name. So he called me and asked me if he could come over with his assistant to our New York apartment.

I told him what I had told The New York Times — but he was overwhelmed. We became friends, and later my wife and I visited him in Washington, D.C. But his CIA superiors were totally negative to the information he brought them from me.

Finally, I met a presidential candidate Ronald Reagan at the East Side Conservative Club. He recalls me in his “Reagan in His Own Hand” (Pages 62-63), and, indeed, he made a public statement on the basis of our conversation when he had become the president. But the CIA publicly rejected it and declared that he was suffering from “evil-empirism.”

He called Soviet Russia “an evil empire” and hence the CIA’s sarcasm. Today the CIA says what the president wants. At that time, the CIA ridiculed what the president said publicly as though he were its minor subordinate.

But what about post-nuclear weapons such as nano weapons? In 1986, that is, over a quarter of a century after Feynman’s speech, Eric Drexler published a book entitled “Engines of Creation.” I leafed through it and discovered that the book contained one chapter entitled “Engines of Destruction.” Nano weapons!

“Nano” means one billionth of a meter. Before the invention of the microscope, no one knew about the world of microbes. Nanotechnology invites us into the world of molecules, compared with which microbes are giants. According to Drexler, a molecule can be converted into a supermicroscopic computer that will find and destroy nuclear bombs, will multiply, and, of course, fly in a given direction. Imagine a growing cloud-hurricane of such nano engines of destruction.

No Manhattan Project for their development has been created (at least in the West) just as nuclear weapons had not been developed before 1939-1945 either in Germany or the countries opposing it in World War II, and their descriptions and even the possibility of their development had been denied by some scientists.

In 1992, that is, six years after the publication of his “Engines of Creation,” Drexler published a 556-page volume entitled “Nanosystems: Molecular Machinery, Manufacturing and Competition.”

Finally, last year my computer received — absolutely free of charge — the second edition of Drexler’s “Engines of Creation,” the first page of which said that the world-based publishers of ebooks, named WOWIO, “are proud to sponsor this ebook for LEV NAVROZOV.”

Just as nuclear weapons needed the Manhattan Project of 1939-1945 to develop scientific discourses and experiments into a product, nano weapons have needed since 1986, if not 1959, a project for the same purpose.

But in 1939, Einstein told Roosevelt that Hitler was developing nuclear weapons, Hitler seized France in 1940, and launched in 1941 the invasion of Russia, with its enormous natural resources.

Today it is easier for the U.S. government and presidential candidates of 2008 to ignore the mortal military danger of the dictatorship of China and its alliance with Putin’s Russia, advanced in post-molecular super weapons.

In the same year, 1986, when Drexler published his seminal book, he founded the Foresight Institute, which could have become the embryo of the Manhattan Project for the development of nano weapons. But the Congress did not give him a cent.

You see, since 1986, when no one except Drexler used or knew the word, nanotechnology has become a giant in peaceful fields. But the allocations in the Congress constituted one lump sum “for nanotechnology.” Predictably, some businessmen, producing commercial nanogoods, accused Drexler of writing frightful nonsense about “engines of destruction” to scare little children.

There are rich businessmen in China as well under what Lenin called the New Economic Policy. But they know that if they say a word about the development of post-nuclear weapons in China, the “system” will swat them like flies. On the other hand, a rich Westerner can sell his country for a bag of money without recalling that he and his ill-gotten bag of money will be annihilated by billions of those nano weapons to develop which for defense the U.S. Congress has had no money, and anyway Drexler “is not with” the Foresight Institute he founded in 1986!

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Many of my readers have been asking me to describe nano weapons (as one might describe a machinegun or an “atomic bomb”).It is often forgotten that before the Manhattan Project (1939-1945) the atomic bomb was not a working product, but intellectual or scientific...
Thursday, 21 February 2008 12:05 PM
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