Elon Musk Called Nanotechnology BS – Here’s Why It’s Not

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According to ScienceAlert

Where the BS ends and the science begins.

In case you missed it, Elon Musk called BS on the field of nanotechnology last week. The ensuing Twitter spat was admittedly rather small on the grand scale of things.

But it did throw up an important question: just what is nanotech, and where does the BS end and the science begin?

I have a sneaky suspicion that Musk was trolling with his initial nano-comment. After all, much of the tech in his cars, solar cells and rockets relies on nanoscale science and engineering.

But having worked in nanoscale science for nearly 30 years, I must confess that my BS monitor also gets a little twitchy sometimes around talk of nanotechnology.

The ‘next industrial revolution’

Mainstream nanotechnology came of age around 20 years ago, as the United States government began cross-agency efforts to invest in what it initially tagged as “the next industrial revolution”.

Scientists at the time were excited by how they might exploit some of the more unusual properties of materials that emerge when they are precisely designed and constructed at a really small scale, such as abrupt changes in electronic behaviour, or the emergence of super-strong structures.

And because it’s always easier to sell an idea to funders and policymakers if you have a clear brand and a compelling message, the term “nanotechnology” became the rallying call for this new “industrial revolution”.

To keep things simple, early definitions of nanotechnology focused on exploiting the “novel properties” that some materials begin to exhibit when they’re engineered at a scale of between 1 – 100 nanometres (a nanometre is one billionth of a metre).

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This article and images were originally posted on [ScienceAlert] May 30, 2018 at 05:30AM. Credit to Author and ScienceAlert | ESIST.T>G>S Recommended Articles Of The Day

 

 

 

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