Friday, December 01, 2006

NanoTech Talk

Our ISEPP speaker last night, Meyya Meyyappan, was good on the intro: the surface:volume ratio is a function of size and properties change as a shape shrinks to the nanoscale. Four grams of nanotubes have the same surface area as a football field, mas o meno. Nano gold particles melt at a lower temperature than gold bricks.

He didn't mention buckyballs, which I called him on at the dinner (excellent salmon, unfortunately for our guest, a vegetarian).

Clearly tubes have an edge these days, though I'd heard they'd stuffed buckyballs through buckytubes that time. Except now we call 'em nanotubes. So maybe the tubes are so popular because now there's a way to avoid saying "bucky" so often? Just asking.

Anyway why not say nanoballs? We should try that on for size. Nano could be the next turbo. We could have store chains like Nanorama. No, the merchandize wouldn't be invisible to the naked eye. Just because it's nano doesn't mean you can't see it, Meyya was quite clear on this point -- like, there could be buckyballs in your shampoo someday!

[ Geneva airport security did this fast juggling of purses and bags, sleights of hand, such that my mom got confused, didn't realized she'd been parted with her new laptop, the Sony Vaio, 'til Zurich. She has high confidance in the Swiss, thinks she'll see it again. I'm not so sure. ]

Anyway, properties at the nanoscale provide a whole new quantum mechanical ball game, and the goal of engineers is to usefully capitalize on that fact, and in more ways than one.

I sat next to a caustic and witty critic of nano all through dinner. He thinks a lot of pigs at the trough are self-servingly taking credit for work they didn't actually do, piggybacking on unsung heros, attracting funding away from more worthy players.

I told him I liked the talk because one of the slides had two CCP cuboctahedra side by side, of two different frequencies. Those are like icons for me. Not bad, to gain control of the Schnitzer, all those impressionable young minds [rubbing hand noises, maniacal chuckling].

1, 12, 42, 92, 162...
Another guy at our table, one Mr. Owl, expressed admiration for Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age (a book about nano), while our speaker expressed some trepedation about Prey (the movie version's not out yet). Will paranoias about "gray goo" inconvenience the nano family, the new Beverly Hillbillies on our block?