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Jason Des Forges

plenty of room down thereÖ
nano talk from New Zealand


I, Nanokook

I wish I hadnít got talking about nanotechnology. I wanted the job as communication lecturer very much, and I was both experienced and qualified:

Interviewer: So can you, using words of two syllables or less, explain what nanotechnology is?

Me: Molecular nanotechnology. . .

Interviewer: Thatís more than two syllables

Me: Um. . . Itís when weíll be able to alter matter as easily as we now move data.

Perhaps I should have said ďThereís plenty of room at the bottomĒ.
I didnít get the job. It may not have been due to my failing to make my words tiny enough.

I think nanotechnology has the potential to transform our world and solve many of our problems, particularly those to do with scarcity of resources. Hey! Thatís a lot of the worldís problems. Ever heard the idea that ďall wars are about resourcesĒ?

Iím pretty well informed and tend to talk about carbon nanotubes rather than tiny robots. At least the nanotubes exist. But the topic still doesnít go down too well among the city folk of Auckland, New Zealand. I usually proffer a nanosolution to the terribly gloomy scenarios people paint of the future, and come away feeling like some kook selling snake oil.

Nanotechnology still sounds so sci-fi. Whatís more it sounds like bad sci-fi, fill of mad scientist inventions such as free energy, space elevators and spray on computers.

Perhaps there just arenít the results out there for it to seem real to people. Iíve not even come across nanopants or carbon nanotube reinforced tennis racquets. And where are those carbon nanotube big screens? A year ago I read they could be on the market as early as Christmas 2004. Now they look to be a few years away. Michael Critonís movie version of Prey will be out in plenty of time. Nanoheebeejeebees.

Still, technology marches ahead. I continue to be impressed with computers such as the new G5 imac, and most of the gadgets youíll find at engadget.com.

Technology has not yet entered the new diamond age, but itís still pretty shiny.


Copyright © 2004 Jason Des Forges

Jason Des Forges


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