Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > News > Should we be taking a closer look at the potential dangers of nanotechnology?

May 25th, 2011

Should we be taking a closer look at the potential dangers of nanotechnology?

Abstract:
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.

Source:
guardian.co.uk

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Particles from outer space are wreaking low-grade havoc on personal electronics February 19th, 2017

Liquid metal nano printing set to revolutionize electronics: Creating integrated circuits just atoms thick February 18th, 2017

Engineers shrink microscope to dime-sized device February 17th, 2017

Francis Alexander Named Deputy Director of Brookhaven Lab's Computational Science Initiative February 16th, 2017

Chemistry

In-cell molecular sieve from protein crystal February 14th, 2017

Nano-level lubricant tuning improves material for electronic devices and surface coatings February 11th, 2017

Scientists determine precise 3-D location, identity of all 23,000 atoms in a nanoparticle: Berkeley Lab researchers help to map iron-platinum particle in unprecedented detail February 6th, 2017

UCLA physicists map the atomic structure of an alloy: Researchers measured the coordinates of more than 23,000 atoms in a technologically important material February 3rd, 2017

Possible Futures

Particles from outer space are wreaking low-grade havoc on personal electronics February 19th, 2017

Liquid metal nano printing set to revolutionize electronics: Creating integrated circuits just atoms thick February 18th, 2017

Engineers shrink microscope to dime-sized device February 17th, 2017

Research opens door to smaller, cheaper, more agile communications tech February 16th, 2017

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers

Particles from outer space are wreaking low-grade havoc on personal electronics February 19th, 2017

Liquid metal nano printing set to revolutionize electronics: Creating integrated circuits just atoms thick February 18th, 2017

Engineers shrink microscope to dime-sized device February 17th, 2017

Research opens door to smaller, cheaper, more agile communications tech February 16th, 2017

Safety-Nanoparticles/Risk management

NIST updates 'sweet' 1950s separation method to clean nanoparticles from organisms January 27th, 2017

Nanoparticle exposure can awaken dormant viruses in the lungs January 17th, 2017

Investigating the impact of natural and manmade nanomaterials on living things: Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology develops tools to assess current and future risk January 9th, 2017

First time physicists observed and quantified tiny nanoparticle crossing lipid membrane November 7th, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project