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Article: The Flawed Origins of Nanotechnology

  1. The Flawed Origins of Nanotechnology

    16 Comments by AllWalker Published on 01 Dec 2009 06:23 PM
    A new story entry has been added:

    The Flawed Origins of Nanotechnology


    You all know all there is to know about nanotechnology. You have seen it in action, as a green mist that dissolved Paris, as tiny cubes that form freaky spider things that do battle with humans and big-headed aliens alike, as a devouring force sent to cleanse us by Keanu Reeves.

    You have read about it, too. Michael Crichton

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  3. #2
    Living la vida broke-a Revs's avatar
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    Good article, I just have one question

    You all know all there is to know about nanotechnology. You have seen it in action, as a green mist that dissolved Paris, as tiny cubes that form freaky spider things that do battle with humans and big-headed aliens alike
    Is that a Stargate reference?


    Also, I hope they continue to make better nanotech clothing. The shirt I have is one of my favorite and never,ever stains.
    Give me whiskey when I'm thirsty,Give me a cold beer when I'm dry, Give me root beer when I'm sickly, Give me a headstone when I die.

  4. #3
    Global Moderator AllWalker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TFR You SOB View post
    Is that a Stargate reference?
    It sure is. Replicators are a good example of nanotechnology = magic, but the show is good enough to get away with it in my eyes.
    Something tells me we haven't seen the last of foreshadowing.

  5. #4
    Living la vida broke-a Revs's avatar
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    That first episode with the Replicators where T'ealc and O'Neill are going nuts with the auto-shotguns in the gate room on Thor's ship, pure weapons-grade awesome.
    Last edited by Revs; 01 Dec 2009 at 09:55 PM.
    Give me whiskey when I'm thirsty,Give me a cold beer when I'm dry, Give me root beer when I'm sickly, Give me a headstone when I die.

  6. #5
    aka ivan the not-quite-as-terrible ivan astikov's avatar
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    Funnily enough, I've just watched those 2 episodes on the SG box-set, last night. Actually, T'ealc, the big, daft Jaffa, tried zapping them with his taser, which was totally ineffective - so much for alien technology against a Replicator!

    As to the subject of the OP, I was wondering what are the realistic applications of this technology?
    To sleep, perchance to experience amygdalocortical activation and prefrontal deactivation.

  7. #6
    Global Moderator AllWalker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ivan astikov View post
    As to the subject of the OP, I was wondering what are the realistic applications of this technology?
    Fair question, one that would require a whole other article to answer. But, in very broad terms, you can expect applications from nanotechnology to show up in everything from agriculture to manufacturing to medicine. Because nanotechnology is so cross-disciplinary over a number of fundamental sciences, it is hard to pin down any specific expectations. Again, I liken it to computers - they are powerful tools that revolutionise every aspect of society.

    I have a few more articles in the pipeline, so you'll have to wait a while before I delve into specifics. But I figured a good place to start was addressing the biggest misconception there is regarding nanotechnology, while establishing what probably can't be done. With this as a foundation, it is possible to address what can be done.
    Something tells me we haven't seen the last of foreshadowing.

  8. #7
    Elen síla lumenn' omentielvo What Exit?'s avatar
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    How close are we to the solar windows and such tech being ready for production?

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    Global Moderator AllWalker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by What Exit? View post
    How close are we to the solar windows and such tech being ready for production?
    They can be made, but they are neither efficient nor cheap. The thing is, such a product doesn't attract a lot of investment money, so I suspect the breakthrough will either come from unrelated research or from the academic sector. In other words, probably not soon.

    But solar windows are a neat concept. Normal windows allow visible light in, but reflect the higher energy UV. If that UV were to be harnessed instead of reflected...
    Something tells me we haven't seen the last of foreshadowing.

  10. #9
    Stegodon Walker in Eternity's avatar
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    I found this article on solar windows. It seems that they concentrate the light to the edges of the window and only have traditional solar cells located there.

    Is this typical of all solar windows?

    I work in the organic (plastic) solar cell field and can confirm that they are currently neither cheap or efficient. Additionally any coating on glass that absorbed photons would affect the amount of light that passed through the window either by decreasing the intensity over a part of the spectrum or by tinting the light. Many photoconductive polymers also are coloured which would again affect the quality of any light passing through the material, and this is without the presence of any nanostructures which would be required to construct a working solar cell.
    Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth - Marcus Aurelius

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    Global Moderator AllWalker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Walker in Eternity View post
    I found this article on solar windows. It seems that they concentrate the light to the edges of the window and only have traditional solar cells located there.

    Is this typical of all solar windows?
    I first heard about solar windows in the form of some supramolecular structures sandwhiched between glass planes. This tinted the glass, but meant the light was falling on it evenly. But looking at that link, reflecting the light internally and moving it towards the edges is a great way to reduce the amount of materials required. Doing away with the supramolecular chemistry would be good, though - it is only useful from a "hey, look at what I can do!" perspective. Synthesis isn't easy.
    Something tells me we haven't seen the last of foreshadowing.

  12. #11
    Oliphaunt The Original An Gadaí's avatar
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    I just wanted to chime in to say I found the article fascinating and also to point out a typo, Crichton is the author's name.

  13. #12
    aka ivan the not-quite-as-terrible ivan astikov's avatar
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    I read something about nano-technology being used for protective clothing for law enforcement and the armed forces - any idea how that would be applied?
    To sleep, perchance to experience amygdalocortical activation and prefrontal deactivation.

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    The Queen Zuul's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by An Gadaí View post
    I just wanted to chime in to say I found the article fascinating and also to point out a typo, Crichton is the author's name.
    Fixed it. Thanks.
    So now they are just dirt-covered English people in fur pelts with credit cards.

  15. #14
    Global Moderator AllWalker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ivan astikov View post
    I read something about nano-technology being used for protective clothing for law enforcement and the armed forces - any idea how that would be applied?
    That's awfully vague. It seems like there is always a story like this around. Now you say clothes, not armour, so I assume it's some kind of resilient, self cleaning material. Probably. But I don't really know.
    Something tells me we haven't seen the last of foreshadowing.

  16. #15
    Stegodon Walker in Eternity's avatar
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    It could be a type of armour made from carbon nanotubes like in this BBC report.
    Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth - Marcus Aurelius

  17. #16
    aka ivan the not-quite-as-terrible ivan astikov's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by AllWalker View post
    That's awfully vague.
    Point taken.

    On page 160 of the book The Counterterrorist Manual by Leroy Thompson, there is a paragraph where it states, and I quote,
    "In the attempt to address the problem of weight versus ballistic strength, the next generation of body armor may incorporate nanotechnology. Some of the nano materials currently being tested can withstand shocks of up to 250 tons per square centimetre..."
    That any more help?
    To sleep, perchance to experience amygdalocortical activation and prefrontal deactivation.

  18. #17
    Global Moderator AllWalker's avatar
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    Ah. Much better.

    As Walker in Eternity has linked to, carbon nanotubes are famous for being incredibly strong but very light weight (as well as being highly conductive, a perk but not too useful for body armour). But there are all kinds of approaches to modifying existing materials - some include altering the way the atoms pack together, some involve adding impurities to the material, some do both. Nanotubes are a famous example, but not the only one.
    Something tells me we haven't seen the last of foreshadowing.

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