Nanotechnology: The Investment with the Largest Payoff in 50 Years
Nanotechnology isn't going away. In fact, it promises to impact so many industries that the word will become ubiquitous in our daily lives.
From 2011-2014, Daniel Honan was the Managing Editor at Big Think. Prior to Big Think, Daniel was Vice President of Production for Plum TV, a niche cable network he helped launch in 2002. The production team he oversaw won over two dozen Emmy awards. Daniel has created numerous shows and documentaries for television, and his film credits include Stealing the Fire, a documentary on the black market for nuclear weapons technology.
Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanielHonan
Nanotechnology conferences make strange bedfellows. Or at least that was the case at a 2002 NanoBusiness conference I attended in New York City that was chaired by Newt Gingrich. Also in attendance was Ray Kurzweil, who told the conference that nanorobots "will enter the human brain and replace human consciousness with virtual reality." And yet that was hardly the strangest thing I heard that day. That moment came when the former House Speaker, a champion of fiscal austerity, called for major government investments in nanotechnology, while heaping praise on the Clinton Administration's National Nanotechnology Initiative. Our political parties agree on very few things these days, and that was certainly the case in 2002. And yet, Gingrich called this federal research and development program "the investment with the largest payoff over the next 50 years."
It very well may be. And perhaps that is why Gingrich, a man affectionately known by some as "Newt Skywalker" -- due to his tech sweet tooth -- is such a fan.
Let's fast forward to the present day.
We are already able to create materials and devices at a scale that was once unimaginable in our physical world. And when advances in science threaten to outpace our moral imagination, we will need new metaphors to make sense of both the physical and the metaphysical conceptions of the world. For instance, this is what the not-so-distant future holds, according to Ray Kurzweil:
Just a few years ago, if I wanted to send you a movie or a book or a recorded album, I would send you a FedEx package. Now I can e-mail you an attachment and you can create a movie or a book from that. In the future, I’ll be able to e-mail you a blouse or a meal.
It is hard to think of an industry that won't be impacted by a technology that promises to become ubiquitous in our daily lives, ranging from medicine and electronics to energy and biomaterials. Fortunes are certain to be made.
Watch Ray Kurzweil on the promise of nanotechnology:
A mind-bending paradox questions the nature of reality.
- Boltzmann Brains are hypothetical disembodied entities with self-awareness.
- It may be more likely for a Boltzmann Brain to come into existence than the whole Universe.
- The idea highlights a paradox in thermodynamics.
What makes an excellent educator?
- When it comes to educating, says Dr. Elizabeth Alexander, a brave failure is preferable to timid success.
- Fostering an environment where one isn't afraid to fail is tantamount to learning.
- Human beings are complicated and flawed. Working with those complications and flaws leads to true knowledge.
Drinking home alone in your underwear just might be what you need to be as relaxed as the Finnish.
- Päntsdrunk is the latest trend to come out of Northern Europe and it involves drinking alone at home.
- Finnish writer Miska Rantanen outlines the philosophy in his newest book titled: Pantsdrunk: Kalsarikanni: The Finnish Path to Relaxation.
- Kalsarikänni is a word in Finnish that literally means "drinking at home and alone in your underwear."
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.