Nanotech Database

Article Title:
Fact and Fantasy in Nanotech Imagery

Author:
Goodsell, David S.

Journal Information:
Leonardo
Vol. 42, Num. 1
2009

Link:
http://muse.jhu.edu.ezproxy.lib.lehigh.edu/journals/leonardo/toc/len.42.1.html

Abstract:
Goodsell finds much at fault with cultural conceptions of nanotechnology. His particular lens for examining the field is imagery, specifically how nanotech imagery has made nanotechnology seem plausible, blurring the lines between fact, speculation and fantasy, spurring excitement while perhaps blunting our critical faculties. Goodsell invokes the universal trend toward plastic or wooden models of molecules in organic chemistry classes as an example of how imagery can be misleading; such an idea of what a molecule looks like, and how it acts, can lock the general public away from truly understanding what scientists are discovering every day. One of the dangers inherent in this concept of stick and ball molecular imagery is that many of the properties of the nanoscale are lost in so simplistic a model. While Goodsell admits that the popular conception of space was greatly aided by the fanciful images of Star Trek, he stops short of concluding that nanotechnology can absolutely benefit from similar such exposure.