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  WUSB 90.1FM Radio part1 2005-02-27  

Nanotechnology: LSC (Lighter, Stronger, Cleaner) Nanofood, Nanomedicine, Nanostocks, Nanopaints, Nanoplastics, Nanoenvironment ... Nanoskincare The wave of the future is not far from now as a huge industry is about to dawn on us. International Consultant in Technology, Health, Beauty & Skincare talks about nanotechnology with Dr. Zampieron. Excerpt ... Technology-as-we-know-it is a product of industry, of manufacturing and chemical engineering. Industry-as-we-know-it takes things from nature—ore from mountains, trees from forests—and coerces them into forms that someone considers useful. Trees become lumber, then houses. Mountains become rubble, then molten iron, then steel, then cars. Sand becomes a purified gas, then silicon, then chips. And so it goes. Each process is crude, based on cutting, stirring, baking, spraying, etching, grinding, and the like. Trees, though, are not crude: To make wood and leaves, they neither cut, grind, stir, bake, spray, etch, nor grind. Instead, they gather solar energy using molecular electronic devices, the photosynthetic reaction centers of chloroplasts. They use that energy to drive molecular machines—active devices with moving parts of precise, molecular structure—which process carbon dioxide and water into oxygen and molecular building blocks. They use other molecular machines to join these molecular building blocks to form roots, trunks, branches, twigs, solar collectors, and more molecular machinery. Every tree makes leaves, and each leaf is more sophisticated than a spacecraft, more finely patterned than the latest chip from Silicon Valley. They do all this without noise, heat, toxic fumes, or human labor, and they consume pollutants as they go. Viewed this way, trees are high technology. Chips and rockets aren't. Trees give a hint of what molecular nanotechnology will be like, but nanotechnology won't be biotechnology because it won't rely on altering life. Biotechnology is a further stage in the domestication of living things. Like selective breeding, it reshapes the genetic heritage of a species to produce varieties more useful to people. Unlike selective breeding, it inserts new genes. Like biotechnology—or ordinary trees—molecular nanotechnology will use molecular machinery, but unlike biotechnology, it will not rely on genetic meddling. It will be not an extension of biotechnology, but an alternative or a replacement. Molecular nanotechnology could have been conceived and analyzed—though not built—based on scientific knowledge available forty years ago. Even today, as development accelerates, understanding grows slowly because molecular nanotechnology merges fields that have been strangers: the molecular sciences, working at the threshold of the quantum realm, and mechanical engineering, still mired in the grease and crudity of conventional technology. Nanotechnology will be a technology of new molecular machines, of gears and shafts and bearings that move and work with parts shaped in accord with the wave equations at the foundations of natural law. Mechanical engineers don't design molecules. Molecular scientists seldom design machines. Yet a new field will grow—is growing today—in the gap between. That field will replace both chemistry as we know it and mechanical engineering as we know it. And what is manufacturing today, or modern technology itself, but a patchwork of crude chemistry and crude machines?