When analyzing the facts about nanotechnology, it will become apparent that not one person was responsible for inventing it. The word itself was coined by Professor Norio Taniguchi in 1974. The idea of manipulating atoms and molecules was first brought up by Richard Feynman in 1959.
Origin of Nanotechnology
Feynman gave his lecture on December 29, 1959 at the American Physical Meeting Society. He discussed a procedure wherein molecules and atoms could be harnessed using specially designed instruments. The word nanotechnology had not been invented yet, but his proposition is an exact description of the science.
More facts about nanotechnology surfaced with Professor Taniguchi’s work. In his 1974 paper, the professor described the process as consolidation or separation of atoms or molecules.
Dr. K Eric Drexler popularized the word with his books (Engine of Creation and Nanosystems). The Engines of Creation came out in 1986 and was the first book ever on the subject.
Nanotechnology began taking off in the 1980s, mainly due to the emergence of cluster science and the creation of the STM (scanning tunneling microscope). This was followed by the discovery and manipulation of fullerenes in the mid 80s.
Its progression was also helped by the development of semiconductor nanocrystals. This resulted in an increase of metal oxide nanoparticles. A study of the facts about nanotechnology show quantum dots also grew.
1987 saw the first protein engineered and a symposium on the subject was held. By the following year, courses on nanotechnology were being offered in universities. In 1991, the atomic force microscope was created. The 1990s also saw increased use and manipulation of carbon nanotubes.
Although still in its infancy, the potential benefits of nanotechnology have been cited by scientists. Nanotechnology can create pure and clean water. It can help create genetically engineered agricultural products that are safe and less labor intensive.
Other positive facts about nanotechnology include using it to produce cheap energy, pollution free manufacturing, and more efficient drugs and medicines. Nanotechnology can also revolutionize the way doctors perform diagnostics and organ replacements. It can also create smart computers and appliances.
The potential risks include its affect on human health. It’s unclear as to how this technology will affect the body. Its effect on the environment is still to be determined as well. There are also some questions as to how all the technology will affect human relations and how they communicate with each other.
One potentially dangerous effect is the so called grey goo effect. The premise is that the time will come when nanobots will become commonplace and develop their own intelligence. The end result is the Earth being overrun by these nanobots. An alternative scenario is green goo, wherein the planet is overrun by nano engineered organisms.
One final fact about nanotechnology should be clear by now: it has the potential to alter modern society in ways that would have seemed impossible years ago. Exactly what will transpire in the near future is something only time can tell.