Nanotech exhibit opens at IEEE Virtual Museum

Nanotech exhibit opens at IEEE Virtual Museum

The IEEE Virtual Museum, targeted at the general public, has opened its nanotech exhibit. An excerpt:

“Even with these real-world applications, the current uses of nanotechnology (other than nano-size particles of various materials) remain very limited…However, researchers are rapidly making progress toward what some think of as true nanotechnologies—self-assembling, molecule size machines to perform all sorts of tasks (including manufacturing the nano-size materials made by other methods today).”

Sadly, the first illlustration is of a MEMS device. Also distressing to me as an IEEE member is the phrase “Nanotechnology is a science…”

My own favorite nanotech museum is a set of moving molecular machine designs at Nanorex. Click on a design to see it move. —Christine

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  1. Central April 27, 2006 at 7:07 am - Reply

    I’m an IEEE member too, and while I can see why you might object to saying that any kind of technology is a science, on the other hand, the general public does not necessarily make the same sharp distinction between science and technology. To many, technology and science are part of the same enterprise, with a lot of crossover but perhaps with different ultimate goals. For example, have you ever heard someone talk about technology being “applied science?” And it’s hard to argue that there’s not a huge component of scientific knowledge in nanotechnology research. But I agree that the phrase is awkward.

    As for the mems device, if you read the text of the exhibit you’ll understand why a mems device is portrayed. This is a historical exhibit (even though nanotechnology is quite new). You’re talking about the IEEE Virtual Museum. Museums are usually historical. In fact, this is a creation of the IEEE _History_ Center, which is not normally dealing with current technologies at all. Mems, integrated circuits, and the like are part of the historical background of the nanotechnology story, even if they are not nanotechnology themselves. It’s just as valid to discuss them as it would be to include Charles Babbage or the ENIAC, or some analog computer in a history of the microprocessor.

  2. Christine Peterson April 27, 2006 at 1:41 pm - Reply

    I agree that it’s okay to have a MEMS illustration, as long as the goal is to explain the difference. My point, which I could have made more clearly, is that having it be the FIRST illustration is unfortunate. Thanks for writing! –CP

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