Visions for the future of nanotechnology

Visions for the future of nanotechnology

The folks over at the Wilson Center’s Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies have been busy, as summarized on their NanoFrontiers page. First we have a report (2 MB pdf) from their NanoFrontiers Workshop, written up by Karen Schmidt. A couple of excerpts:

It seems that the sky is the limit on what might one day be accomplished with nanostructured artificial tissues and nano-enhanced prosthetic devices…Perhaps what now seems almost like science fiction will one day seem like a historic paradigm shift that helped us solve some of our most pressing and complex problems.

I agree — to me it has always seemed like a paradigm shift: picturing being able to control the structure of matter down to the molecular level. Unthinkable not so long ago. (And, er, still unthinkable to many today who have not made the shift.)

Also just out is the first edition of their NanoFrontiers newsletter (2.2 MB pdf). An excerpt:

Looking further out, some forecasts anticipate that progress in medicine and nanotechnology will lead, for example, to internal nano-sensor networks that will monitor the total health of individuals and provide aggregated intelligence to health care providers. The biosensors would be small enough so that they might be inhaled, infused through the skin, or ingested.

The interesting thing about these quotations is not that they are new ideas, but that they are appearing in quite a mainstream publication. What was regarded as edgy before, when only Foresight was making such projections, is rapidly becoming the consensus world view among those who look ahead. Welcome to those now joining this perspective! —Christine

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  1. Eric Tulloch May 2, 2007 at 2:08 pm - Reply

    I’ve become an avid reader of L. E. Modesitt’s literature, particularly that which he terms “speculative fiction,” incorporating aspects of the future that tend to look far more realistic than many of the fantasy-style visions of a significant amount of science fiction. Perhaps one of the most intriguing (and telling) things about his works is that they’ve incorporated nanotechnology, including the “inhaled, infused through the skin, or ingested” ideas for quite some time. Yet most people with whom I discuss such ideas remain skeptical, if not completely disbelieving.

    To take the sensor delivery method further, is it such a stretch to think that targeted medications or other nanoscale medical applications could be delivered in the same manner?

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