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Vol. 28 No. 6
November-December 2006

Nanotechnology — Lessons from Mother Nature

by Alan Smith

In an earlier article (Jan-Feb 2006 CI ,p.8), the author asked “Does Nanotechnology Have a Sporting Chance?” and reviewed briefly the hype surrounding the field. In this article, Smith illustrates how lessons from Mother Nature are resulting in the design of new nanotechnology applications. These applications, which relate to our everyday life, provide excellent examples that children and adults can relate to, and should be used to promote good science.

Over the last hundred years Nobel Prizes have been awarded in medicine, chemistry, and physics for work that would nowadays be described as nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is certainly not new; Mother Nature has been the best exponent since creation!

For those not familiar with the nanoscale,it is about as small as you can get, and down at that molecular or atomic level it has been found that properties of things can change.To help understand how small the nanoscale is, it would take 80 000 nanoparticles in a row to be just the diameter of a human hair, and if a gull landed on the deck of an aircraft carrier the ship would sink in the water by only one nanometre (a millionth of a millimetre).

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