Saturday, July 19, 2008

Man and Technology

Truly man has gone a long way--from creating his own implementing tools (however crude they were) to aid him in his daily activities to his 21st century high technology inventions. Over the years man’s brain has been undergoing tremendous development. Its creativeness seems endless and it does not tire in finding ways to make his life on earth convenient. As they say, inventions and/or discoveries are products of necessity. Well true enough we saw during the latter part of the 19th century devices such as telegraph, telephone and radio all of which have been very useful in our everyday life. The following years gave us more than what we asked for.

Wright Brothers

The Wright Brothers flew the first airplane which later led to commercial aviation. Henry Ford revolutionized car manufacturing by mass production thru the introduction of the assembly line which resulted to lower price enabling more people to own a car. Surprisingly, in ancient China (ca. 210BC) the Chinese mass produced the arrows for their bows also in an assembly line. The television set found its place in the living room of homes. In 1945 the computer was successfully assembled although it occupied the whole first floor of the building where it was housed. By 1961 man had made his first orbital flight and during this time the internet was also being developed. Several years later man was on the moon conducting various experiments. The first generation of mobile phones was introduced in 1983 followed by the creation of the World Wide Web (www) in 1989. Of course, this does not end here and there are many more—the shuttle space program which is used primarily to deploy space cargo (communication satellite), human genetic engineering (DNA), laser guided missiles, smart bombs, global positioning system (GPS), etc.


So what can we expect from the 21st century? Third generation mobile phones? Engineering feats such as buildings taller than Petronas Towers? First man on mars?
Lo and behold we are about to face the biggest surprise of our life

“Imagine a medical device that travels through the human body to seek out and destroy small clusters of cancerous cells before they can spread. Or a box no larger than a sugar cube that contains the entire contents of the Library of Congress. Or materials much lighter than steel that possess ten times as much strength.” — U.S. National Science Foundation

parallel shaft speed
reducer gear

and this is what is called NANOTECHNOLOGY. But what is Nanotechnology? “Nanotechnology is the engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale. This covers both current work and concepts that are more advanced. In its original sense, 'nanotechnology' refers to the projected ability to construct items from the bottom up, using techniques and tools being developed today to make complete, high performance products.”
Pretty cool eh! Imagine building machines on the scale of molecules—computers, laptops, cell phones. This technology promises “greatly improved efficiency in almost all facet of life.” “The power of nanotechnology can be encapsulated in an apparently simple device called a personal nanofactory that may sit on your countertop or desktop. Packed with miniature chemical processors, computing, and robotics, it will produce a wide-range of items quickly, cleanly, and inexpensively, building products directly from blueprints. Through nanotechnology we will be able to produce many high quality products at very low cost. It will also allow making new nanofactories at the same low cost and at the same rapid speed—factories that can build factories—rapidly, cheaply and cleanly. The means of production will be able to reproduce exponentially, so in just a few weeks a few nanofactories conceivably could become billions. It is a revolutionary, transformative, powerful, and potentially very dangerous—or beneficial—technology. How soon will all this come about? Conservative estimates usually say 20 to 30 years from now, or even much later than that. However, CRN (Center for Responsible Nanotechnology) is concerned that it may occur sooner, quite possibly within the next decade. This is because of the rapid progress being made in enabling technologies, such as optics, nanolithography, mechanochemistry and 3D prototyping. If it does arrive that soon, we may not be adequately prepared, and the consequences could be severe.”

the nanofactory

Scary? He, he, we’ll just have to wait and see.

(Nanotechnology source:

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