Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Buy a Big Bright Green NanoMachine

Reuters quoted me in a story running in today's news cycle: Cutting-edge science creates stain-free pants. Yeah, I know, again with the pants! You'd think it was an obsession of mine. As a bonus, I also managed to weave in a "Star Trek" reference, just to really let my geek flag fly.

Andy Sullivan's report is a decent outline of some of the nanotech products currently available. No, they're not self-assembling particles that will create the fabled Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine (act now, operators are standing by), but the sunscreen, tennis balls and pants do represent the bridge between the old macro economy and the new, more-efficient, accurate and tailored small tech economy. The much-publicized nanopants, for example, is successful because it fills an existing need and fits seamlessly into existing products and markets.

As these small tech products sneak into the macro world, they will lead to increased consumer expectations of quality, accuracy and personalization, pushing more small tech products into the marketplace. So, that's how you get from today's sunscreen and nanopants to tomorrow's products that we can barely even imagine now.

It isn't nanobots in the bloodstream, but the fantastic voyage needs to start somewhere, and right now, the "nano inside" is just in a lot of "stuff.”

Oh, and speaking of green, today's top story on, Nanoparticles prove irresistible for cleanup of industrial waste, is another illustration of how the environmental movement and nanoscience could walk arm-in-arm into the future. Greenpeace and ETC Group would still be skeptical, though. The question remains: What is the long-term impact this "stuff" (in this case, iron oxide nanoparticles developed by the Institute for New Materials in Saarbrucken, Germany) is going to have on the environment? Excellent question, and I'll have more on this soon.

Yes, that was meant to be a teaser …


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