Invisible Origins of Nanotechnology: Herbert Gleiter, Materials Science, and Questions of Prestige
Perspectives on Science
Vol. 17, Num. 2
Alfred Nordman holds that Herbert Gleiter deserves mention as a founding father, or at least a godfather, of nanotechnology. While known only to a certain community of materials scientists, Nordman argues persuasively that Gleiters name should be mentioned on par with intellectual progenitor Richard Feynman, who is widely known for his fantastic ideas that would eventually find new life with the advent of nanotechnology. Nordman traces the history of the field from its theoretical infancy and documents Gleiters early referrals to nano-chrystaline materials, as well as the scientists self-conscious understanding of himself as a nanotechnology researcher, in forwarding a case for Gleiters inclusion in the pantheon of progenitors. Where Nordman finds Gleiter to be ignored is in the semantic realm where nanotechnology means different things to different people; so far as Nordman is concerned, though, Gleiters emphasis on the theoretical in no way detaches him from nanotechnology itself, but from the present (but not definitely future) course of the science.