Week_9 Nanotechnology By Gaurav Bansal

Nanotechnology is a very large and important field, contrary to its name. Nanotechnology will provide new possibilities for the future that were once unimaginable. One of the ideas using nanotech that interests me the most is the concept of the Space Elevator.

Space Elevator

Space Elevator

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/business2/business2_archive/2006/03/01/8370588/index.htm

The space elevator is an idea in which a very long cable will be placed from Earth to geosynchronous orbit. After this cable is in place, a “cable rider” will act like an elevator and carry satellites into space. This offers an alternate solution to place satellites in space as opposed to using a giant rocket which has a higher chance of failure. So how can nanotechnology, which deals with very small things, possibly help carry 15,000 pound objects thousands of miles away from the Earth’s surface? The answer is that nanotubes will be used to construct the long cable due to its strength and weight properties.

Carbon Nanotubes

Carbon Nanotubes

Our guest speaker James Gimzewski briefly touched on the topic, and describes how the carbon nanotubes are made.
The speaker seemed to have a string stance on the topic toxicology of nanotechnology. Due the size of nanomaterials, the inherent properties are not the same as the large scale object we understand today. This is so because at such a small scale, trivial amounts of any materials will have a large affect. It seems that most of the issues that people are concerned with are airborne side effects to people’s lungs. The carbon nanotubes that want to be used for the space elevator is speculated to cause mesothelioma. Since this potentially can cause harm, or death, the humans, great caution will be taken before nanomaterials become main stream. However Gimzewski suggests that companies will continue to use nanomaterials, without explicitly saying so, until they are banned.

Nanotechnology is also being utilized in the field of computing. Ever since the first computer was made, which was the size of a large room; it has been a race to produce the smallest possible computer. Nanocomputing is highly desired in the field of computing because of speed. In today’s society, the fast you can go, the better. Gimzewski thinks that we are designing into a wall, and we will reach a point at which we can’t go any smaller or faster with the current method. I agree with him fully, it is easy to see a trend in every field that today’s technology just follow what was originally done when the field was new. Sometimes it is better to hit the reset button, use the knowledge learned, and come up with a new idea for a given problems.

This is in response to Gimzewski question: If you could make any object, what would it be?

If I had the capability to make any object, I would make an object that had the capability to go faster than the speed of light. I understand the today’s society believes it is not possible to surpass the speed of light, but I disagree with this. The equations that make it such that we cannot exceed the speed of light were manmade, just because they have not been proven wrong, doesn’t mean they are right.

By Gaurav Bansal

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