Nanotechnology, storytelling, sensing, and materiality

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Session Title:

  • Posthumanism II

Presentation Title:

  • Nanotechnology, storytelling, sensing, and materiality

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Abstract:

  • Abstract

    The process of taking quantum theory and transforming it into a quotidian experience via nanotechnology seems inevitable. In the international marketplace, there are currently hundreds of nanotechnology-based products ranging from sunscreens and beauty products to fitness clothing and equipment to medical products, and more are being added every day. (Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, 2008) Meanwhile, government funding for nanotechnology research, over the last five years, is estimated at $40B (2004-2008) and, in 2009, it’s expected that an additional $9.75 billion will be invested. (cientifica, [sic] April 2009: 2) Still no one really knows how to explain or describe nanotechnology simply.

    Scientists and others trying to educate and communicate to the public about nanotechnology focus on descriptions of size and scale. (Berger, October 17, 2008). The comparison to a human hair (one nanometre is 1/60,000 of a single human hair) is usually made in a futile attempt to describe and discuss it. Even amongst scientists, the standard for explaining nanotechnology is to invoke a measurement; nano means one billionth. (So, a nanometer = one billionth of a metre.) Alternatively, explaining that nanotechnology allows us to manipulate matter at the atomic and molecular levels will generally reward you with a blank stare. These explanations simply don’t fire the imagination or aid understanding.

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