Week 9: Nanotechnology- A Clear Ally by Leslie Grant

It is fascinating to see how history continually repeats itself. Society always exhibits skepticism about the unfamiliar, even when there is no evidence to serve as justification for such wariness. Nanotechnology is currently in that stage, being looked upon as a possible evil due to mere uncertainty about some of its components. Had this been only a few weeks earlier I would not have even contemplated the way in which people view nanotechnology, but then last Thursday’s lecture presented me with the shockingly high percentage of people who are opposed to nanotechnology in spite of the fact that they do not truly understand it. I truly enjoyed listening to Professor Professor James Gimzewski speak about his work in nanotechnology last week, as I desired to gain a greater understanding of the developing field, and I found that listening to him speak about the various aspects with such passion was much more engaging than independent study would have been.
One topic in particular grabbed my attention immediately- the discussion of Fullerenes, also known as “buckyballs,” as a part of nanotechnology. The chemistry courses I have been enrolled in for the past two quarters was definitely linked to my excitement, as the molecule C60 has been discussed on a minimal level during both quarters and I enjoy learning about the relevance of chemicals and chemical properties in a context other than that of chemistry class. Admittedly, another aspect of the molecule that fascinated me was the fact that in the times prior to its discovery there was architecture being built as a sort of predictive representation of what we were going to discover in future years, with the geodesic Montreal Biosphere created by Buckminster Fuller in 1967 obviously serving as the primary example. As a sort of testament to his insightful creation, you can see that the buckyball is illustrated on his tombstone.

800px-buckygravesk

While others such as Eiji Osawa of the Toyohashi University of Technology speculated on the possibility of such a molecule by using actual chemical evidence and not merely observing the representative structures, it is hard to believe that the work of architects to create vast and glorious representations of these C60 chemical played no part in helping to inspire the research on it. [Not] surprisingly, this leads back to the topic of the class, showing how something can start off as a representation of art and become a major aspect of the science world or vice versa. Professor Gimzewski juxtaposed the connectivity of both art and science to nanotechnology quite well. I was extremely impressed by nanobama, so much so that I visited the Nanobliss website on my own in order to take another look at what other works of art have thus far been created with this technology. Viewing these creations made me curious about what natural wonders I have been missing out on just by being on the macroscopic level. Below is one of the many samples of the works of art put together by John Hart and his team, more can be viewed by visiting this site: http://www.nanobliss.com/

A great example of nanoart.

A great example of nanoart.

Nanobliss is just one of the examples of scientific art in this field, with the strides being made on the side of pure science being just as mind-blowing. I still cannot get over the possibility of a space elevator which would utilize high-tensile carbon cables in order to operate. About a year or two ago I had previously research the capabilities of a space elevator, so I was already familiar with the magnitude of such an invention, but now that I have a greater understanding of nanotechnology and its vital role in such an endeavor, I hold a greater appreciation for it and do not see it as quite so far-fetched.
Clearly, those who are unsupportive of nanotechnology are ignorant [of its capabilities, of course] and need to do some research about the ways in which it can benefit society in future years. I look forward to seeing the progression of this technology, and hope to see some collaboration between the art and science aspects in the future.

~Leslie Grant

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