week9: Nanotech by zoo duck hwang

“The origin of the word, ‘nano-’, is the Greek, nanos, meaning a dwarf”

 

One nanosecond is one billionth second, and one nanometer is one millionth meter. In other words, nanotechnology is the study of the control of matter on an atomic and molecular scale well beyond the scope of micro, one millionth. In fact, this technology allows us to explore the world of nano- which we have never been and enables us to create whole new materials by manipulating the atomic structure of the raw materials. Since this fascinating technology is still under influence of the law of nature as well as quantum mechanics, it is possible that any unexpected events can be happened from indiscreet application of the technology.

The movie, Innerspace (1987), is all about the happenings of red blood cell size of a submarine which is injected into human body to explore. In 21st century, nanotechnology proposes the possibility of having this kind of submarine, so called as Nanobot. For example, nanobot actually will go into the body of patient with cancer to find the cancer cell and give medical treatments. Even though the technology can bring huge improvements to human beings’ life, New York Times picked nanotechnology as one of technology which might bring the destruction of our world.

The primary concern is arisen from the nature of nanotechnology. Because it deals with very small things, it is very hard to control after the creation of that small thing, and nano-sized particles can across anything including human beings’ skin. One of environmental toxicologist, Dr.Eva Oberdorster from Southern Methodist university, warned the high potential of invasion of nanoparticles into our biological system and the possible consequence of brain damage. In fact, she did the experiment which she dissolved fullerence nanoparticles into water and put basses to live in the water, and found that the large fraction of basses showed the symptom of brain damages. This incident rate of brain damages after exposure to nanoparticles was 19 times higher than the basses with normal water. Another research done by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that TiO2 nanoparticles, used in many cosmetic products which is proudly advertised as the most effective products with nanotechnology, can harm neuron cells since excessive amount of active oxygen is secreted as reacting to TiO2.

It is true that nanotechnology will bring us a whole new world with its potential of infinite application into almost all industrial fields. However, it is also true that we have to develop the regulation, at the same time, to control indiscreet usage of that technology because of the high risk.       

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