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16 May 2007

The Future of Nanotechnology Oh, noez, nanotech will eat us all! (Seriously, this stuff wigs me out . . . )
Wow. That background music reminds me of Metropolis for some reason.
posted by chewatadistance 16 May | 06:20
(I was surprised this wasn't produced by Zyvex.)

Ah, nanotech...'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wish'd. Actually, it's sorta happening, but it's mostly coatings to make your pants repel stains and stuff like that...nothing really science-fictiony just yet.

I've been eager for the really kewl stuff ever since I read Drexler's Engines of Creation...what, must be going on 20 years ago? Gawd. Also, Neal Stephenson wrote an entertaining, Dickensian sort of novel, The Diamond Age, in which nano figures prominently.
posted by PaxDigita 16 May | 07:26
The Crichton book Swarm featured oodles of nanotechnology. I found it to be a good airport read but I don't think I would have liked it so much if I wasn't trapped in the black holes that are airports.
posted by LunaticFringe 16 May | 07:42
Oh, and...

"The only waste products are warm air and pure water."

Watching the nanoassemblers work and pondering that they'd slowed the time factor down considerably, I thought about waste heat and realized that the finished product would have to sit and cool down awhile before that lady could take it out of the assembler. I assume the work would take place in a near-perfect vacuum so that stray molecules of nitrogen, oxygen etc. couldn't affect production, but the actual material molecules themselves and the assembly machinery would get kinda hot.
posted by PaxDigita 16 May | 07:52
I think you're referring to Prey -- I read it too...I'd forgotten about that one; Crichton's novels tend to feel like movie-of-the-week fodder. Greg Bear's Slant has a lot of nano in it as well, but unlike Crichton he doesn't attempt to explain how stuff works (mercifully).
posted by PaxDigita 16 May | 08:02
Yeah, that's it. I remember when I was reading it how it make a good script. I thought that about Dan Brown's Deception Point as well.
posted by LunaticFringe 16 May | 08:49
Well, if you think about it, your body is already made up of billions of little molecular machines, just doin' their thing. Unzipping DNA, copying DNA, making ATP, contracting and expanding muscular tissue, and so on.
posted by muddgirl 16 May | 08:58
True, and the waste heat of biochemical processes generates makes your body nice 'n' warm. Trying to do any manufacturing on time scales useful to people will generate quite a bit of heat. I haven't been reading on this for a few years, so I don't know how the waste-heat problem would be addressed. I might just write to Zyvex and ask if one of the engineers can comment on that.

Speaking of biochemical processes: One of the oft-repeated potential application areas of nanotechnology would be subcellular-scale devices that could, for example, repair damaged DNA, identify and selectively remove cancerous cells, or disassemble blood clots and atheromatous plaque.
posted by PaxDigita 16 May | 09:16
That would make a pretty nice contour-fitting bed.
posted by StickyCarpet 16 May | 09:19
Oh, noez, nanotech will eat us all!

Speaking of which, besides the waste-heat problem (out of curiosity, I went ahead and E'd Zyvex about that), there's the famous "grey goo" problem.
posted by PaxDigita 16 May | 09:29
Greg Bear mentioned in the same thread as grey goo and no talk of the awesome "Blood Music". You shame me, Metachat.
posted by seanyboy 16 May | 17:51
Hey, I made it thru Slant -- that's enough Bear for me, nano or no.
posted by PaxDigita 22 May | 21:07