So I wrote some code (first C, then Lisp, finally Java) that allowed you to put together a little structure with carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. You could energy-minimize it, and theoretically I could have done equations of motion, but at some point I got busy with other things.
On mailing lists and Usenet, I continued to think more about design systems for nanotech.
- In the electronics world there is a language for design and simulation called VHDL, which offers a lot of great facilities for managing the complexity of very large projects. Some day nanotech will have its own version of VHDL. Developing it will require learning which details can be safely ignored to give a really terse description of a useful structure.
- When simulating, you don't want to model every single atom in a huge structure. Frequently you want to say that these million atoms just act like a big block, with a little rubberiness or sponginess, but I don't care about their individual vibrations inside the block.
- It would be extraordinarily cool if I could put on VR goggles and force-feedback gloves and physically interact with the structures I design.
- If we accept the premise that real nanotech hardware may be potentially dangerous, we should develop design and simulation software first, so that we're familiar with the dangerous things before they actually exist.