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Don't worry, be happy:
- Oliver Heaviside, physicist
isn’t just about making things smaller. That’s like mistaking
electricity for just a replacement for candles and oil lamps. In the
distant future, nanotech will enable a world we can’t even begin to imagine
– just like with the discovery of electricity, we still couldn’t imagine
computers or the many industries they have spawned, not to mention countless
▉ Transportation: With new materials, vehicles will be lighter and stronger, using less fuel and withstanding more damage. Space travel will be made inexpensive and no longer limited to the elite few.
▉ Computers: As processing chips become smaller, faster and more powerful, computers will also shrink in size, allowing them to be truly ubiquitous and embedded in clothing and even in our own bodies. Some will be as small as bacterium, and data storage the size of sugar cubes can hold the entire contents of the Library of Congress.
▉ Military: Soldiers will wear an exoskeleton that can change its flexibility and become instant armor. Clothes will be able to store energy to deliver superhuman strength when needed, such as for jumping over a 20-foot wall. Weapons can be miniaturized, and like bombs today, “smart” bullets can be programmed to hit specific targets.
▉ Energy: More powerful and smaller batteries will enable devices to also become smaller and operate longer. Efficient molecule-sized solar cells can be mixed into road asphalt to continually harness the sun’s energy. Fossil fuels and coal will be replaced with renewable energy sources, even turning garbage into fuel.
▉ Environment: We may be able to rebuild our thinning ozone layer and clean up the environment with nanobots that eat oil spills and other contaminants. More efficient manufacturing processes mean less pollution. We won’t need to clear-cut trees to make paper anymore.
▉ Medical: Surgeries will be performed with tools 1,000x more precise than the sharpest scalpel today. Cosmetic surgery won’t even require surgery – eyes can perhaps change color, and noses can change shape without cutting. Medical monitoring devices can be implanted to detect diseases. New drugs can target cancer cells and viruses for disassembly or to fix defective genes or otherwise deliver precise treatment. To the extent that getting old is like any other physical disorder, repairing cells can slow, halt or reverse the aging process.
▉ Distant future: Because everything is made up of atoms, and nanotech enable us to build things atom by atom, many experts predict – supported by plausible, scientific reasons – that we will be able to manufacture anything. Among other things, we can make food from dirt and water, eliminating famine worldwide.
Undoubtedly, much good can come out of nanotechnology. But there will also
be unintended bad consequences, as with any new technology. Proponents
argue we can already see that the good outweighs the bad, even if we don’t
understand all the implications of nanotech.
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