Nanotechnology in motion: the good, the bad and the.. just plain weird?

by Andrew Maynard on April 25, 2009

How many good nanotech videos have you come across?  Chances are, you’ll be struggling to name more than one of two.  But over the past few weeks there have been a few posted on the web that are worth watching.  These three in particular mesh together rather nicely to tell a story of nanotechnology’s potential, some of the hurdles that need to be overcome to make it work, and one or two of the myths that have messed around with people’s perceptions.

The first two feature footage of me in conversation with Jorge Ribas at the Discovery Channel, but don’t let that put you off – Jorge did a fantastic job of editing the conversation into something worth watching.  The third is a deliciously wicked cartoon from Ransom Riggs that has already done the Web circuit, but is well worth airing again.

THE GOOD STUFF

A glimpse into some of the cool stuff that could come about through engineering matter at a nanometer scale:

THE “BAD” STUFF

Actually, this isn’t bad at all, but video does give a glimpse into some of the challenges we face if nanotechnology is to reach it’s potential without causing unnecessary harm:

AND THE WEIRD STUFF

I thought this cartoon from Ransom Riggs was a great foil to the first two videos, as it lampoons one of the persistent myths of nanotechnology – the idea of a “gray goo” of self-replicating nanobots destroying the world.  Crazy as the idea sounds, it was Prince Charles’ concerns over gray goo that led to the UK Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering publishing what is still one of the most authoritative assessments of nanotechnology benefits and risks.

All in all, a great introduction to the promise, hurdles and outright myths of nanotechnology.

If you have other favorite nanotech videos, please let me know.

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