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  • 13 Aug 2010 08:43 PM
    AllWalker
    Quote Originally posted by ivan astikov View post
    Who were the first people to start working on nanotechnology, and when did this begin? What has the military's involvement with this technology amounted to? I was under the impression that all cool stuff like this starts out as military R+D, and then comes into the mainstream consciousness; would that be right?
    Probably the first example of nanotechnology is... soap.

    Just kidding. Sort of. It does work on the nanoscale, and in countries like South Korea that love this sort of science, shampoo is actually advertised as boasting "nanocolloid action" ... which is true, but irrelevant.

    But interestingly enough, what we would call nanotechnology today actually emerged out of acedemia. Military R&D actually jumped on the bandwagon late, as it started off as something which had only scientific interest. Scientists have been assembling things on the nanoscale for a long time, but lately there has been both the interest and the capability to do it on a grander scale, if you'll forgive my poor choice of words.

    Nanotechnology originally was just mucking around with atoms, molecules and proteins. If you made something cool or even better, if you made something deliberately, you could publish a paper on it. But in its infancy nanotechnology couldn't produce much of anything beyond an idle scientific curiousity, and so remained largely an academic thing with dreams of the future.

    I am generalising, though. Nanotechnology is such a broad concept at times that there would be examples of military funding stuff in the early days. A lot materials science, for example, involves adding nanoscale contaminants to metals to change their properties - something that is both relatively simple and able to produce a desirable product. But for what most people think of nanotech, the shuffling on molecules and whatnot, started off as science for the sake of science and became technology.

    As a lot of science does.
  • 09 Aug 2010 05:57 AM
    ivan astikov
    Who were the first people to start working on nanotechnology, and when did this begin? What has the military's involvement with this technology amounted to? I was under the impression that all cool stuff like this starts out as military R+D, and then comes into the mainstream consciousness; would that be right?
  • 30 Jul 2010 09:25 PM
    AllWalker
    Essentially, both disassembly and reassembly often require precise delivery of energy. But physical and biological systems do both all the time, and sometimes it is as simple as heating a whole bunch of the stuff with a lighter.

    The thing is, disassembly can lead to a net release of energy, as the energy used for bonding is now free for other purposes. Now, disassebly can either occur because enough energy was injected into the system to cause permanent disassociation, or the presence of a catalyst lowered the energy required so that background levels are sufficient.

    All of these are fairly simple techniques. The difficulty comes in incorporating the techniques into a nanoscale device. Though, again, both nature and humans can perform examples of this all the time.

    In short, if you can assemble at these scales you can disassemble, and vice versa.
  • 26 Jul 2010 02:57 PM
    Tinker
    As far as I understand it disassembling is primarily an energy problem. One has to have the energy available, and the ability to channel it at scale in order to pull molecules apart.
  • 25 Jul 2010 06:21 AM
    ivan astikov
    autonomous machines capable of assembling anything from furniture to complex electronic devices out of constituent matter
    What about disassembling? How good would they be at that?
  • 23 Jul 2010 12:09 PM
    Tinker
    Nanotechnology is fascinating. Though I think in the current frame of what's going on, it is the interim steps that are the most intriguing. I am particularly fascinated by the rise of 3D printers. I think the Diamond Age will be a lot sooner than 300 years from now. I give it 100.
  • 03 Mar 2010 03:07 PM
    AllWalker

    The Long Road Behind Us

    A new story entry has been added:

    The Long Road Behind Us

    <span lang="EN-AU">Since early high school I have been fascinated by nanotechnology. My first encounter with the subject was a friend of mine who told me about the concept of nanites, microscopic, autonomous machines capable of assembling anything from furniture to complex electronic devices out of constituent matter. I was not alone - this is the introduction the world was given in Drexler

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