Managing expectations can be one of the toughest jobs for any emerging technology.
For nanotechnology, having its coming out party just as the Internet and telecommunication bubbles burst, the job of keeping expectations realistic proved nearly impossible.
Of course, what has become commercial in the last seven years since the launching of the NNI may seem extremely significant to some but remain inconsequential to others.
A case in point comes from the Helena Independent Record. The reporter here poses the question: ''What has nanotechnology done for you lately?''
Apparently, ''the media'' (aren''t they always to blame?) put images of ''supercomputers mounted in wristwatches and X-ray machines that hang from your doctor''s neck like a stethoscope'' into our heads. Then, darn it, nanotechnology never delivered on these promises.
I never saw these application examples before, but if they were reported they might have been merely illustrative rather than predictions somewhat like ''the mobile phone so small an ant could use it.''
Anyway, nanotechnology has finally struck upon something useful for the Independent Record reporter: insulating paint. Apparently, this insulating paint is quite effective at covering plywood sheds containing hot water tanks. Or your home''s ceiling even if you have insulation in the attic.
So if you''re the type who spills everything on your clothes, you may have been satisfied with nanotechnology all the way back to the introduction of ''nano pants''. But now if you have a shed in the back yard that needs insulating, nanotechnology has finally delivered.