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April 12, 2013

The Amazing Potential of Nanotechnology

Long considered to be exclusively the product of science fiction, today some people believe nanotechnology is about to reaches its potential, and drastically change the world.
In the science fiction world of Star Trek, replicators can produce practically any physical object, from weapons to a steaming cup of Earl Grey tea (hot!). Long considered to be exclusively the product of science fiction, today some people believe replicators are on the real-time horizon via the technologies of nanotechnology and 3D printing. When this molecular manufacturing reaches its potential, the technology will drastically change the world.

Currently nanotechnology is mainly used to produce nanoparticles, or materials with very specific properties.  In the video above the superhydrophobic coatings shown at the beginning are one example.  Graphene and carbon nanotubes are other nanoparticles with incredible potential in a variety of applications.

With technical developments that will allow millions of atoms to be pieced together by nanomachines, a specific product will begin to take shape. The goal of molecular manufacturing is to manipulate atoms individually and place them in a pattern to produce a desired structure.

carbon nanotubes

The first step would be to develop nanoscopic machines, called assemblers, that scientists can program to manipulate atoms and molecules at will. In order for molecular manufacturing to be practical, you would need trillions of assemblers working together simultaneously. K. Eric Drexler believes that assemblers could first replicate themselves, building other assemblers. Each generation would build another, resulting in exponential growth until there are enough assemblers to produce objects.

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Trillions of assemblers and replicators could fill an area smaller than a cubic millimeter, and could still be too small for us to see with the naked eye. Assemblers and replicators could work together to automatically construct products, and could eventually replace all traditional labor methods. This could vastly decrease manufacturing costs, thereby making consumer goods plentiful, cheaper and stronger. Eventually, we could be able to replicate anything, including diamonds, water and all types of food. Famine could be eradicated by machines that fabricate super nutrient foods to feed the hungry.

Nanotechnology may have its biggest impact on the medical industry. Patients will drink fluids containing nanorobots programmed to attack and reconstruct the molecular structure of cancer cells and viruses. There's even speculation that nanorobots could slow or reverse the aging process, and life expectancy could increase significantly.

Nanorobots could also be programmed to perform delicate surgeries -- suchnanosurgeons could work at a level a thousand times more precise than the sharpest scalpel. By working on such a small scale, a nanorobot could operate without leaving the scars that conventional surgery does. Additionally, nanorobots could change your physical appearance. They could be programmed to perform cosmetic surgery, rearranging your atoms to change your ears, nose, eye color or any other physical feature you wish to alter.

Nanotechnology has the potential to have a positive effect on the environment. For instance, scientists could program airborne nanorobots to rebuild the thinning ozone layer. Nanorobots could remove contaminants from water sources and clean up oil spills. Manufacturing materials using the bottom-upmethod of nanotechnology also creates less pollution than conventional manufacturing processes. Our dependence on non-renewable resources would diminish with nanotechnology. Cutting down trees, mining coal or drilling for oil may no longer be necessary -- nanomachines could produce those resources.

The Amazing Potential of Nanotechnology

The Amazing Potential of Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology promises to produce materials that are lighter and stronger than metal or carbon-fiber.  Use of such technology will produce vehicles that are faster, safer and more energy-efficient.
Many nanotechnology experts feel that these applications are well outside the realm of possibility, at least for the foreseeable future. They caution that the more exotic applications are only theoretical. Some worry that nanotechnology will end up like virtual reality where the hype surrounding nanotechnology will continue to build until the limitations of the field become public knowledge, and then interest (and funding) will dissipate.

nanotechnology epaper
Electronic paper is another potential of nanotechnology 
In the interview below, Christine Peterson discusses some of the other potential uses and applications of nanotechnology.

Peterson writes, lectures, and briefs the media on coming powerful technologies, especially nanotechnology and life extension. She is Co-Founder and Past President of Foresight Institute, the leading nanotech public interest group. Foresight educates the public, technical community, and policymakers on nanotechnology and its long-term effects.

She serves on the Advisory Board of the International Council on Nanotechnology, the Editorial Advisory Board of NASA's Nanotech Briefs, and the Advisory Board of The Machine Intelligence Research Institute  and served on California's Blue Ribbon Task Force on Nanotechnology.

SOURCE  Google Makes Me Smart, Adam Ford

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