Archive for the ‘Week1_TwoCultures’ Category

Week 9 Applied Nanotechnology: Cancer and a Space Elevator? by Roger Call

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Nanotechnology “is the development and engineering of devices so small that they are measured on a molecular scale.”  This relatively new and quickly growing branch of science integrates many of the other disciplines to create these molecular devices.  Physics, material science, engineering and chemists make up only a few of the many.  Not only does nanotechnology integrate many of the sciences, but is used in a wide variety of technologies and products.  One of the areas in which nanotechnology is being implemented, is curing cancer.

Nanotechnology could very well be a great step towards finding a true cure towards cancer.  Many properties of nanotechnologically created devices have proven to be very helpful in cancer research.  For example,  devices have been used to locate and gather information about tumors in the human body.  Nanotechnology implementing MRI has been able to detect cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes without requiring surgery.  Tiny capsules called nanoscale drug delivery devices are being used to transport anti-cancer agents directly to tumor locations, cutting down on the harmful impact to the rest of the healthy cells and tissues.  Such nanoscale delivery agents are increasingly being used to treat specific areas of the body infected with cancerous cells.  As nanotechnology continues to advance, the nanoscale devices may be able to detect cancer at a stage earlier than doctors have been previously able to detect.  The earlier the detection the greater chance of success in dealing with the cancer effectively. 

The above animation depicts the use of nanotechnology in destroying tumor cells in the human body.

The National Cancer Institute has been supporting the effort for implementation of nanotechnology in curing cancer for the past few years.  The NCI has even developed a plan, which they call the cancer nanotechnology plan.  This plan will create demanding deadlines for advances in nanotechnology suited for detection and fighting cancerous cells and mutagens.

When I stumbled across this article I couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity of the idea, but apparently Japanese scientists believe that they can construct a space elevator.  This elevator would consist of an extremely strong rope through the use of carbon nanotube technology.  According to the chairman of the organization the current technology will not quite suffice to withstand the forces placed on the cable, but the rope would only need to be about four times stronger than the current cable, and seeing as the strength of nanotechnological ropes and fibers has increased by one hundred times over the past five years, this goal seems quite feasible.

Roger Call

Section C

Week 9_Nanotech: A Rising Industry by Beverly Okereke

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

In class, Professor Vesna discussed the rising industry of nanotechnology.  It’s an exciting new idea that I personally would love to explore further. Just the idea of billions of microstructures making a difference in our world is just fascinating.

But what exactly is nanotechnology? According to the definition provided by the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology, “Nanotechnology is the engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale.”

Nanotech Cartoon

Nanotech Cartoon

And how does nanotechnology work? Nanotech arranges carbon molecules into nanotubes which make it possible to make a number of things, including the space elevator mentioned in this video: How Nanotech Works

Nanotech at Work

As a life science student, I feel like nanotech could do amazing things for the treatment of human disorders and diseases:

Imagine a medical device that travels through the human body to seek out and destroy small clusters of cancerous cells before they can spread. Or a box no larger than a sugar cube that contains the entire contents of the Library of Congress. Or materials much lighter than steel that possess ten times as much strength. — U.S. National Science Foundation

1. Nanotech and Cancer 

2. Nanotech and Cancer 2

Even in the well known box office hit, I Robot, the 2004 Will Smith movie about anti-robot detective who leads an investigation of the death of a prominent robotics expert, there is a mention of nanobots that lingers throughout the entire movie. In the movie, nanobots, or “nanites” as they are called in the movie, help to cure and treat a number of human diseases as they enter the body’s bloodstream and attack the problem that they are programmed to treat.

I, Robot

I, Robot


Nanotech is known for its ability to be used for a variety of things. For example, last year it was found that certain organic molecules have a conductive property that, according to Sahil Nagpal in an article posted on, “provides a new strategy for designing electronic materials, including inexpensive and multifunctional organic conductors that have long been considered the key to smaller cheaper, and faster technologies.” Conductive Property of Organic Molecules

Click on this picture to watch a video about the potential future of nanotech and its relation to the future of medical breakthroughs:

Nanotech and the Body

Nanotech and the Body

Even with all of the benefits of nanotechnology, there are also many risks. Risks

Now nanotech works

Example of Nanotech Risks - Mesothelioma

As an example of the video, there are many risks that are linked to the future of nanotech. Delving even further into the idea 0f nanotechnology being risky, I found this article that was posted in the middle of last year: Nano Risks
It basically explains how the well known carbon-60 molecules called “buckyballs” (named after Buck inster Fuller and known for their use in the production of nanotubes) have been found to cause potential environmental and health hazards, especially in the form of cell and tissue damage. Buckyballs and Risk to Living Tissue
And in regards to the future of nanotech, there was an interesting article on How Stuff that made me think about the risks of nanotech in a more insightful way. The article mentions how we need to learn more about nanotech. There is the idea floating around saying that nao-sized particles may be toxic, and thta, since they are so small, they may be able to cross the blood-brain barrier in the body, causing internal bodily harm.  Here is an excerpt from the aforementioned article about “Apocalyptic Goo” and how nanotech may possibly lead to the end of the organic world as we know it.
Apocalyptic GooEric Drexler, the man who introduced the word nanotechnology, presented a frightening apocalyptic vision — self-replicating nanorobots malfunctioning, duplicating themselves a trillion times over, rapidly consuming the entire world as they pull carbon from the environment to build more of themselves. It’s called the “grey goo” scenario, where a synthetic nano-size device replaces all organic material. Another scenario involves nanodevices made of organic material wiping out the Earth — the “green goo” scenario.

Also, in the weapons industry, nanotech may bring rise to new and more powerful weaponry, while in the medical industry, nanotech may possibly lead to a transhuman race that, according to the article, may lead to many ethical questions. Here is the article: Nanotech Challenges There are also a number of nanotech links at the top of the article.

I personally found this video interesting. It basically sums up nanotechnology: NANOTECHNOLOGY

Nanotech by Eric Debbold

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Nanotechnology is a pretty broad term, butsuffice it to say that humans are now able to manufacture new materials on a level much smaller than ever before.  Many people have many fears about nanotech, including the horrifying “grey goo” end of the world scenerio.  In this scenerio, nano particles or nanobots begin to self replicate using readily available materials in thier environment.  On Earth, this simply means a nano particle that can make copies of itself out of Nitrogen, Oxygen and/or Carbon.  Once this process begins, it is very difficult to prevent a spread of these particles, exponentially increasing in number, eating up all the materials on the planet, and through a process not unlike this:

the nanobots will turn this:

into this:

This process seems pretty simple and frighteningly plausible, but I am happy to report that, according to my sources, this has not happened yet.

This brings up a large problem for modern day nanotechnology users, which is the general fear of nanotechnology.  Just the fact that it is very small is scary enough.  I mean, we could be BREATHING these things for Godsakes!  A much to-do came out of the realization that many skin care and lotion products had begun to use nanoparticles, and many people feared that the nanoparticles would seep through the skin and roam freely around the body, like tiny wreckingballs with nothing to stop them.  The fact is, the smallest particles in sun screen and other lotions are NOT man made nanoparticles.  Every time you smell something, a tiny receptor in your nose is responding the tiniest single molecule and transmitting its smell to your brain.  Sitting in your dormroom, or in your home, you are constantly breathing in and out dust and pollen, and your body is well equipped to handle this constant influx of small particles.

Nanotechnology has more than just the power to incite fear.  Nanotech can produce seemingly magic materials, such as windshields that repel water, self-cleaning concrete, or pants that never need to be washed.  As with any new technology, especially one as powerful as nanotech, it is important to understand the full implications behind every item produced, and to integrate them into our ecosystem as safely and gradually as possible.  If we are able to utilize nanotechnology effectively, we may see the rise of a new age, perhaps a Diamond Age, to excel us into a bright new future.

Week 10|Courtney Kennedy

Monday, March 9th, 2009


Nanotechnology is a pretty big topic. When I went to do further research for this blog, I found that nano-tech can be applied in use anywhere from diagnostic medicine to sunscreen, from food packaging to quantum computers. I decided that in this post I would focus more on the topics that I am familiar with, such as the food packaging and body care, as those are things that I am more impressed with when I see the results of nanotechnology. 

For example, there is a way to use nanotechnology to infuse foods and beverages that don’t have many vitamins and minerals with them, but in a way that won’t change how the food tastes or smells. This would be like the better version of the Coke product that has vitamins and minerals in it but tastes like chalk. I don’t really know if this is a great idea for the american consumer, as already there is too much consumption of sodas and other junk foods, and the companies who make these items would undoubtedly be the first ones to jump on this idea in order to make their products seem healthier. However, I think in impoverished countries the application of this technology could be beneficial to the health and well-being of people who currently suffer from malnutrition. If foods like rice and wheat could be given more vitamins and minerals without adding too much extra cost, then there would be a big benefit for these people for their health. 

Another type of nanotechnology in food would be the use of plastic in packaging food that would be able to sense when there was samonella contamination of a product. That way, companies could test very easily if their products were contaminated without going to very great lengths. I think that it is important for this nanotechnology to be in use in American companies especially in light of the recent outbreak of salmonella in peanut butter and other peanut products. With this type of packaging there would not have been the big scare that just happened for peanuts.

Also involved with nanotechnology is the production of lower cost and more easily manufactured solar panels. I think that this would be a great use of nanotechnology if completed because it is now seemingly cost-prohibitive to many people to put solar panels on their homes. If solar panels became less expensive, it would be very good for the progress of solar panels on to more homes in the United States, and all over the world. (Solar Panels)

Additionally, I think it is an interesting idea that Kraft Food’s has with nanotechnology: interactive foods. Somehow, using nanotechnology, Kraft foods wants to make beverages and foods that the person eating them can choose how they taste and their color. I don’t know how this would work exactly, but I don’t really think that I would want to eat it. After all, I already know that processed foods are not really good for me at all, so I think that these foods would not be much better. However, I don’t exactly know what the nutrition facts on this type of food would actually read, so it could be anyone’s guess if they would be good for you or not, and exactly how expensive they would be. (Kraft Foods Article)

Nanotech, a catalyst: Maxwell Blanchard

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Nanotechnology has infnite applications in a variety of different scientific fields.  This week it wasn’t very dificult to locate an interesting topic. While researching nanotechnology, i read articles on everything from nanomaterials, to cloaking devices. Nanotehnology seems to be blurring the metaphorical bridge between what this generation considered to be realistic and fictional.  It was kind of ironic reading an article that approached the idea of a cloaking device as an endeavor in soon in reach of science.  “Invisibility Through Nano” by Charles Choi delves into the idea of such an invention.  He discusses how the method already naturally occurs in nature, one of the examples being a mirage, which is merely light bending and projecting the sky onto sand.  However, the goal of the cloak would be to bend the light around the object as though there were nothing in front of it.  Nonetheless, there is still some skepticism as to whether or not a cloak that could react to all wavelengths of light would exist.  Speaking of irony, it’s somewhat ironic that the skepticism on the subject stems not from the inevitable existence of an “invisibility cloak,” but rather the fashion in which it would function.  Regardless, the link to the article is There is actually an NBC video discussing an “invisibility” cloak that was being researched at Duke.  It follows relatively close to the facts mentioned in Choi’s article.  Essentially the device is only for microwaves at the moment, but it shows that eventually visible waves will be manipulated in a similar fashion. The “cloaking device” in the video is built from copper chips that essentially reflect the waves that they encounter.

There are even Youtube videos portraying “super soldier suits.”  This particular video is obviously just the portrayal of another nano idea(  But notice how whenever a new technology is stumbled upon, mentions of military applications are instantly considered.  In the video a man enjoys almost god-like abilities of invisibility, self healing, and super physical abilities. As i started reviewing additional articles delving into military nanotechnology, it wasn’t surprising to find that fears of the effects of the technology are already being discussed as well. Professor Vesna actually drew a couple of the same correlations during the space week lectures.  The political effects of the technology coud potentially cause a bit of chaos, or at least a transfer of power. The fact of the matter is that it there are serious fears of another arms race occurring.

Nonetheless there are a serious amount of amazing applications for nanotechnology. Everything from nanobots that can repair clots and damaged neurons to new bombs and nanomaterials.  Manipulation at the molecular level has even caused philosophical discussions about how we view the world currently.  Profesor Vesna brought this up when she  previously discussed the way colors are affected at the molecular level, and how colors can be created from the same material by manipulating structure and size.  It’s somewhat mind boggling to find that what we thought was a “color” is almost an illusion.

I touched on a couple topics this blog, but one last interesting one is the portrayal in movies.  Let’s face it, how envious is everyone of the invisible cloaking device in Predator?

Nanotech by Oscar Chacon

Monday, March 9th, 2009

The concept of nanotechnology is really a division of study that mends together the studies of the arts and sciences into one fundamental study for the future. Nanotechnology is a strong leading advancement that will require the strongest efforts from both sides of study. At this point in nanotechnology, this revolution needs science and art to support it on its way to progress. As with the progression of nanotech to this day it has already been adapted to several street art pieces.

In relation to my final project on a robotic vehicle that can draw on walls nanotechnology has begun to adapt itself to this form of free expression. The group Graffiti Research Lab has been using LED lights in a variety of ways t express their art on the streets at a different level. They have created these small bunches of LED lights they call “LED Throwies.” They use them to decorate the streets in a more interactive manner than the usual form of graffiti. As described by the Graffiti Research Lab they are, “LED Throwies are an inexpensive way to add color to any ferromagnetic surface in your neighborhood. A Throwie consists of a lithium battery, a 10mm diffused LED and a rare-earth magnet taped together.” These are not only efficient use of nanotech but a very interactive way to work with public space. They have shown several videos of their works on their site.

They have also adapted this project to be able to express words using LED throwies in another project they call “Night Writer.” In this project they have used the same concept of design of LED throwies but formed them into letters that would then stick onto metal surfaces using clay.

There other simpler projects from the Graffiti Research Lab that use LED nanotechnology. Their “Post Circuit Board” combines the traditional use of postage stickers and their background in using LEDs to create a new piece. This piece is easily placed anywhere, specifically in mailboxes. This project is a tribute to the versatility of this art form and the technology that can be adapted to many aspects of life. It is interesting how art, even more so graffiti has been revolutionized by nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology has also been inspired from art and humanities studies. As statedin the article The Nanomeme Syndrome , “… media artists, nano-scientists and humanists need to join forces together and envision such possibilities.” Although this relatively new study needs more than just an inclusion of input just from the arts but from absolutely every humanities and science discipline. The reason for this interaction between nanotechnology and media artist is their, “common ground in addressing issues of manipulation.” Nanotechnology correlates very closely to study of media artist who are much like the scientist in nanotechnology in dealing with the manipulation of, “sensory perception and questioning our reaction.” It is going to be very interesting to watch the progression of this new study unfold in the following years with the studies of humanities, arts, science, and technology no longer divided into two cultures but advancing into this new revolution as one. I am going to be specifically interested in what the new works the Graffiti Research Lab will produce with the different future progression of nanotechnology.

by Oscar Chacon

Week 9_Nanotechnology by Nikolaos Mouchtouris

Monday, March 9th, 2009

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The quarter is almost over and finals are coming up soon. So is spring break that will be definitely fun. However, before all that, I would like to blog about nanotechnology! As I was researching for my final project, which was about improving the office environment by installing thousand tiny LCD screens on the walls to display digital scenery, I encountered one more application of nanotechnology. Scientists are trying to use nanomaterials to make big LCD screens because as they say one of the materials used for the production of a liquid crystal screen is indium, which will go extinct in a few years according to a site I was looking at. In addition, until then, its price will increase constantly, thus, it will not be as easy to purchase a nice LCD screen. Nevertheless, when nanomaterials are going to be used for mass-production, then it will be way cheaper to buy one.

Using nanotechnology is really important because it will be the solution for many issues. Even though I initially believed that it was only used for biological purposes, I found out that it can be applied to many things. It will sound cliché but it is the future. However, using nanotechnology requires lots of research and funding because as it is obvious is not easy to work at the nano-level. Specialized scientists have to work extensively in labs to make it happen. A couple days ago, I attended the extra-credit lecture about a researcher from Oregon who talked about their laboratory and what they are working on. I remember him saying that they found an alternative process for a chemical reaction and they actually managed to drop the cost of production from three hundred thousand to five hundred dollars, which is extremely cheap to the initial price.

Moreover, if the cost of production of medicines is decreased because of the use of cheap nanomaterials, then medicines will be enough and affordable by all countries of the world. This is really important because at the moment there are many countries in the world, especially in Africa, where the governments are poor and unable to buy enough medicines to protect their citizens from AIDS or other diseases. These drugs are pretty expensive to make so it is not really easy for the government to simply give out, thus, nanotechnology is the only way these drugs can become cheaper and easier to purchase.

I would like to end my blog with a few words about the class. I am not an art-related major, but I liked how we touched at several big topics because I had never thought of how they interconnect. Being a south campus major, I expect classes to be different, so I was not really fond of the general structure, but the different approach was interesting.

Nick Mouchtouris

And tonight, we take over the world! by Lucie Stein-Cartford

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Nanotechnology has a lot of relevant and interesting applications, which will only increase as our understanding of the technology and technique develop. I think some of the most fascinating applications for nanotech are in the medical field, in which we could conceivably utilize nanobots for everything from treating cancer in its initial stages, to monitoring critically ill patients, to performing delicate surgeries. I would also be interested to see what kinds of brain research could be done with nanobots.

One of the other applications that I’m especially fond of is cleaning up oil spills. I believe technology of this sort already exists in some form, but it would be incredible to have an army of nanobots that could “eat” oil slicks–and even more amazing to make nanobots that would be able to synthesize the oil, and produce a benign product. From there, perhaps it would be possible to release nanobots into the atmosphere that could help us clean up the pollutant emissions that have suffused the air.  My main question for both of these applications is: how do the bots know when to stop? And how do we re-collect them? Hopefully we’ll find the answers in the next decade or so.

Now, all of these scientific applications are fine and good…but if you really want to have fun, why not take over the world with nanobots? has a great how-to video for any interested parties: Taking Over the World, Nanotech style

Nano Technology and the Future

Monday, March 9th, 2009

We have reached a unique time in our society.  Since the beginning of time man has created enormous monuments in testament to man’s dominance on earth.  However we all to often forget that some of the smallest forces on earth are the most deadly and malicious.  The Bubonic plague, a microorganism less than a nanometer across, was responsible for almost wiping out all of europe.  We often forget that bigger is not always better and this is where nano technology really comes into play.  Nano technology generally refers to objects so small that you can barley see them with the naked eye.  However these near invisible objects have enormous potential.  In the future humans could very well have many nano bots inside their bodies.  Although these particles would not be malicious to humans they would serve the purpose of filtering blood in order to fight disease.  This idea of blood purifying nano bots has the extraordinary potential to stop any disease dead in its tracks.  A world without AIDs, Ebola and Herpes almost seems to unreal, but it is closer than we think.  Its no unknown fact that the human race has already conquered the so-called visible world, but the greatest enemy of all lies in the nano world.  Nano technology will truly allow the human race to become the master’s of our environment by conquering the nano world.

Many people make the claim that space is the final frontier.  This statement couldn’t be more wrong.  While space is everything around our blue spec, we often forget that we have yet to explore much of our own domain.  Only about 1% of the entire ocean has been mapped and while space is infinitely greater than the ocean, apply that same idea to the nano world.  The nano world is everywhere and thusly it is infinitely larger than the visible world thusly making it the true final frontier.  The better we as a human race can understand the nano world the better we will be off in the long run.

One of the greatest breakthroughs in modern science was the idea of breaking everything down into its simplest parts.  Often we forget about the nano world, the earth smallest part with the most responsibility for regulating the earth.  If we can gain an understanding of this world then the possibilities will be endless.  Nano technology offer us a world without disease, new breakthroughs in science, resolve the energy crisis and an endless plethora of other concepts and ideas.  Conquering the nano world will truly usher in a new age of humanity.  I believe that nano technology truly have the potential to bring peace to the world.  If Nanotechnology can somehow stop the energy crisis then i believe that all nations of the world can come together as one.  In short, nano technology has the amazing potential to greatly alter everyone on the blue spec’s lives, and it is only a matter of time before the human race conquers the nano world and become the true masters of the blue spec.

Week 9 - NANOTECH, by Jonathan Diamond

Monday, March 9th, 2009

                Okay so to begin this semi-final blog, I would just like to talk about how amazing the space elevator would be, if produced. (To make this a viable idea, nanotechnology would be utilized to create the carbon tubes).  This movie: does a very good job in describing exactly how the space elevator works, and how the nanotubes are created.  Then this movie ( does an incredible job at unleashing your imagination— pushing the limits to where reality stops and science fiction begins.  Near the end of the film new ideas are brought forth regarding an existence where these space elevators become easily produced:  there will exist commercial access to space, new industries will form, solar satellites could be created to harness solar energy and send surpluses to earth in an effort to end our energy crisis, lunar base could become an extremely viable possibility and commercial space travel can become a reality as well.  A space elevator could also be constructed on other planets such as mars.  A mars cable could be much shorter than one on Earth. Mars’ surface gravity is 38% of Earth’s, even though it rotates around its axis in about the same time as Earth.  Due to this fact, the orbit at which items must be to achieve tangential fall is much lower, and thus, the elevator would be much shorter. Carbon nanotubes might not be required to construct the mars elevator due to its shortness, however, building a Martian elevator would be a challenge because the moon Phobos is in a low orbit, and intersects the equator twice every orbit.

                Asside from the space elevator, 2008 has been a year for many new nano-inventions.  One of such inventions is a contact lense with circuits, lights a possible platform for superhuman vision.

Engineers at the University of Washington used manufacturing techniques at microscopic scales to combine a flexible, biologically safe contact lens with an imprinted electronic circuits and lights.  “Looking through a completed lens, you would see what the display is generating superimposed on the world outside,” said Babak Parviz, a UW assistant professor of electrical engineering. “This is a very small step toward that goal, but I think it’s extremely promising.”  The uses for this form of device are almost limitless: professional drivers or pilots could see speeds without taking their eyes away from their primary jobs, an entire new generation of video game virtual reality could be produced, people could even have their computer “monitors” be inside their eyes.  Although testing has only been done on a rabbit for twenty minutes (results: zero adverse effects), human testing has not yet begun.  Ideally, installing or removing the bionic eye would be as easy as popping a contact lens in or out, and once installed the wearer would barely know the gadget was there”, Parviz said.  It has been announced that prototypes will not correct vision, however later down the line, such could also be worked into the lenses.  This research and invention is being funded by National Science Foundation and a Technology Gap Innovation Fund from the University of Washington.  WE shall see how soon this amazing gadget becomes a reality.


by, Jonathan Diamond