Thursday, April 10, 2014

Nanotechnology the new boom 4/4/14

In many ways we are already living in the future, but with the key difference being that we don't fully understand the dangers of many of the things we do. In "A TINY PRIMER ON NANO-SCALE TECHNOLOGIES AND “THE LITTLE BANG THEORY”" they introduce the concept of nanoscale technology and how the properties of elements change at the nanoscopic scale. The author argues that the possible dangers and abuses of nanotech is unknown and because of that all implementations of them should be taken off the market until all health and safety concerns for each nano-material are resolved. However these materials have the ability to change the world and the way people live.
In medicine nanotechnology has led to breakthroughs that have the potential to revolutionize medicine by inventing new cures to diseases that don't exist in the wild, purpose built to remove certain infections. Making medical devices smaller allows more sensitive devices to be made cheaply on a larger scale, such as in the recently invented electronic tattoos that are printed directly on the skin and can detect things such as heart rate and hydration levels as well as electrical conductivity of the skin, and that's just with them being on the surface of the skin. This technology is relatively cheap and is easy to implement with only the possibility for improvement in the future with this being the first step to nanobots that are injected directly into the bloodstream to monitor a patients health. Even modern medicine has been changed by nano-technology, with sub-dermal glucose monitors that are so small they can be powered by the bodies natural energy and read via RFID chips attached to these almost impossibly small devices, and while sub-dermal implants are still on trial they show great promise to decrease the change in lifestyle for those afflicted with diseases such as diabetes and also show that implantable monitors are possible.
Due to their incredibly small size these nanomaterials have the possibility of being constructed on a particle by particle basis, meaning that  they can be built automatically at an incredibly low manufacturing cost. These molecular factories could be used almost anywhere to greatly reduce the cost of manufacture of these advanced materials, and allow people of all wealth classes access to them. Molecular assemblers could be used drive the price of modern medicine through the floor by making it extremely easy to produce any chemical or nano-device. Low cost medicine is key to preventing a quality of care gap between income levels that widen the divide between classes even more. If implemented properly nanotechnology could be used to make self replicating factories that are able to build products, chemicals and devices for several times less than we are currently able to and that would allow for more people to access the new technologies created by these nanomaterials.
To change the world would be introducing these technologies, and while they are not without their dangers the possible benefits of nanotech far outweighs any dangers that are realistic. While the green and grey goo's discussed in the Woodhouse text are scary they are unrealistic when compared to how nanotech is being used. With nanotechnology changing the way products as simple as sunscreen work, it is amazing that it can be found scary when it should be viewed as a tool to advance humanity and society to having not only a new level of control over its domain, but we will also be able to increase the quality of life of everyone with access to it.

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