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October 19th, 2005
Everything you always wanted to know about nanotechology...
Alan H Goldstein: What is nanotechnology? Recent surveys indicate that most Americans don't have a clue. (The good news is that most of the rest of the world doesn't either.) Competing definitions are in circulation. The simplest, but least adequate, simply states that anyone manipulating matter at the dimensions of 100 nanometers or smaller is engaged in nanotechnology. How big is a nanometer? A billionth of a meter, but that definition doesn't mean much. If you split a human hair into a thousand equal parts, each part would be about 100 nanometers in diameter -- a nanohair, so to speak. But researchers on the frontier of nanotechnology have no interest in working with anything this bulky and cumbersome. They would argue, and quite rightly, that by the time you reach this scale most of the qualities unique to the nanoworld have either been used or lost.
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