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The Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week

1. Is That a Sugar Cube in Your Pocket or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

Everybody forgets the lessons of history. But Forbes Editor-in-Chief Steve Forbes is doing it at record speed.

Anyway, we're here to talk about Mr. "Flat Tax" Forbes' latest cockamamie idea, one we learned about from a piece of junk mail sent to the Five Dumbest Things Research Lab.

It's Forbes' new Nanotech Report, a $295-a-year newsletter intended to guide your investments in nanotechnology, which we at the research lab formally define as "the science of itty-bitty things."

Nanotechnology is "the next, next big thing!" writes Steve. As in, a cash-out-all-your-shares-of-Microsoft (MSFT)-and-invest-in-this opportunity. As in, get-in-on-the-ground-floor-before-it's-too-late hot.

"I know with absolute certainty that nanotechnology WILL change the world in ways it is still difficult to imagine!" screams a mug shot of Forbes from the mailing's envelope. "For the long-term investor, it represents a greater opportunity for profits than even the PC revolution."

The prose is even more frantic in the enclosed 12-page letter from newsletter editor Josh Wolfe. "To say that nanotechnology is going to be huge is an understatement! It's not some Wall Street fad," writes Wolfe. "By 2015, the nanotech market will be worth $1 trillion!"

Among the "theoretically feasible" applications for nanotech, according to Wolfe:


  • "Engineered molecules" that can be "the key to curing diseases."

  • "A sugar-cube-sized supercomputer capable of storing everything in the Library of Congress."

  • "Smart combat fatigues" that detect biological weapons, secrete "the appropriate blocking agent" and change colors like a chameleon.

  • "Bathrooms that never need cleaning."

  • "Automobile tires that never go flat."

These claims raise a number of questions -- chief among them, how long have people at Forbes been dropping acid?

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