- About Us
- Career Center
- Nano-Social Network
- Nano Consulting
- My Account
May 25th, 2011
It is impossible to deny the potential and excitement that nanoscale technology offers for the future. Whether it is in aerospace materials, medical treatments or improving computer devices, nanotechnology cannot be ignored.
But with any emerging technology comes potential risk. How much do we really know about the impacts on society and on health of the tiny nanoscale particles that are being churned for commercial and scientific purposes? Are nanoparticles released as we use those products causing harmful effects to the environment? The application of nanotechnology seems limitless, but where could these powerful ideas lead?
The classic worry about nanotechnology is the "grey goo" nightmare, a hypothetical end-of-the-world scenario involving molecular nanotechnology. Imagine, some time in the far future, that an oil tanker has run aground and is spilling its billions of gallons of cargo into a pristine natural habitat. A flotilla of tiny oil-munching nanorobots is deployed to break down hydrocarbons, rendering the spill harmless. In this science fiction scenario, the nanorobots have the capability of self-replicating, making hundreds of copies in minutes. And, instead of eating only hydrocarbons, the robots begin to eat everything around them. It doesn't take long before everything on Earth is consumed by the proliferating mass of robots. Life, as we know it, would be gone.
The idea was first raised by Eric Drexler in his 1986 book, Engines of Creation. For those worried about nanotechnology, grey goo is a good reason to pause any progress until we can confirm we completely understand the process and its implications.
Fortunately, Drexler's scenario is highly improbable - fast-replicating nanorobots would need so much energy and produce so much heat that they would become easily detectable to policing authorities who could stamp out the threat. In 2004, Drexler himself made public attempts to play down his more apocalyptic warnings.
|Related News Press|
News and information
Nanospiked bacteria are the brightest hard X-ray emitters July 2nd, 2015
Engineering the world’s smallest nanocrystal July 2nd, 2015
Producing spin-entangled electrons July 2nd, 2015
X-rays and electrons join forces to map catalytic reactions in real-time: New technique combines electron microscopy and synchrotron X-rays to track chemical reactions under real operating conditions June 29th, 2015
Healthcare Nanotechnology (Nanomedicine) Market Size To 2020 June 5th, 2015
Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers
The quantum middle man July 2nd, 2015
NNI Publishes Workshop Report and Launches Web Portal on Nanosensors: Both outputs support the Nanotechnology Signature Initiative ‘Nanotechnology for Sensors and Sensors for Nanotechnology: Improving and Protecting Health, Safety, and the Environment’ June 24th, 2015