The Tale of Tomalia

Close followers of Howard Lovy’s NanoBot know that I’m naturally attracted to
people who are considered on the fringe. Good writers are often
“outsiders,” themselves. But even within that crowd, I’m often an
outsider among outsiders. I explained it best in an interview I gave to

    “So, my natural inclination is to look at any issue of public
    concern —
    especially ones in which there appears to be a monolithic opinion — and
    find those who begin with a whole different set of assumptions or
    beliefs. I’ve always thought that was the role of journalism — not to
    confirm for the majority what they already believe, but to make them
    constantly question their own assumptions by exposing them to the
    minority opinion. That’s the only way a free society can be certain
    it’s making the right decisions, by being forced to defend it.”

It’s probably a sure way to make a fool of myself, but given my
natural contrary nature, I just can’t help it.
Besides, I find that the people who march on the “wrong foot” are usually far
more interesting.

is all just a navel-contemplating way of linking to this
story on Michigan Small Tech, the latest chapter in the Tale of

Don Tomalia had his eureka moment back in 1979, when the Dow chemist
first figured out how to make a synthetic molecule grow some
scary-looking tendrils — actually, dendrites. Thus, Doc Tomalia (the
picture at right is one I snapped of him at a Foresight Institute
conference last fall) introduced the world to the dendrimer. If I were
a Hollywood casting director, I’d pick the dendrimer shape (not the
neatly uniform buckyball) for my evil molecule. In reality, though, the
dendrimer is far from evil. It might hold a key to fighting
HIV or — and I think this is especially cool — can be set to self-destruct
at the right moment for use as a targeted drug-delivery device.

The trouble was, it was just too expensive to grow the little
things. So, Dow finally sent the IP packing in 1992, leaving Tomalia
and his tiny tendrils out in the cold for almost a decade. A couple of
years ago, though, somebody at Dow must have been rummaging through the
IP basement and found the little beasts again. This time, though,
nanotech had finally caught up with Tomalia’s creation. Dow snatched
the little toys back and began its marketing push. Our lone hero,
though, had already moved on. His company, Dendritic Nanotechnologies Inc.,
is the pride and joy of Starpharma,
which is going to pump more resources into the firm.

That’s good for Michigan. Good for dendrimers. And good for Don
Tomalia, who is finally coming in from the fringe.

More background here,
and here.

More nanotech news and commentary can be found on Howard Lovy’s NanoBot.

4 thoughts on “The Tale of Tomalia”

  1. .

    Perhaps. But the self promotion of your blog went over the line.

    Why not do it like Slashdot and reference the ‘ownership’ parenthetically…

  2. I have no problem with someone mentioning their own blog here…I am always interested in potential sources of new information and good writing. No one is forcing anyone to click on the links.

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