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March 30th, 2005

Nanotech's High Huckster Multiple

Depending on whom you ask, the LightWave Energy Patch is either the first miracle of nanotechnology or just an early instance of 21st-century snake oil. Do an Internet search on the patch -- it claims to employ "nano-scale organic antennas" to give bodybuilders a jolt of energy -- and you'll find inspiring testimonials from presumably beefed-up customers and scathing denunciations from less-than-musclebound scientists.

Under its manufacturer's liberal definition of nanotechnology -- "manufactured products that are made from atoms" -- the polyester patch is undeniably a nanotech product. But so is the computer screen you're reading this on. What's less clear is whether the nanopatch delivers as advertised. But the advertisements themselves are emblematic of the growing trend in using the buzz of nanotechnology as a marketing ploy to give an otherwise unremarkable product a LightWave-like infusion of promotional energy.


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