Is it physics? Is it biology? Is it chemistry? Or is it all of these and many more? So has gone the line of questioning for those who sought to get a handle on nanotechnology, i.e. how to define it and how to train and educate a new generation of scientists around it.
As though this multidisciplinary characteristic needed some kind of confirmation, some researchers at Georgia Tech are reporting in this month’s edition of Nature Nanotechnology that indeed nanotechnology involves a number of different scientific fields.
I suppose if there is something slightly surprising from their analysis of research papers it’s that other disciplines such as electrical engineering or medicine are only marginally less multidisciplinary.
While a recognition of nanotechnology’s drawing upon different scientific disciplines is no doubt important to figuring out how one should invest in and support its development, it’s not altogether clear to me how this research clarifies something that was already fairly well accepted and understood. But who knows, maybe some politico needs to see some pretty pictures to convince them of the obvious.
Now I think it might be time to move on to some research that helps make it easier for physicists, chemists and biologists to talk to one another. Or figure out how we pull out of the specialization spiral science has been in for the last half century and get back to more broadly trained scientists.