Moratorium on Definitions of Nanotechnology

One of the unfortunate side-effects of writing on the subject of nanotechnology is you come in contact with far too many definitions of what it is.

The latest one that simultaneously really annoyed me and gave me a chuckle was from some website called Micronanotronics. With a name like that I should have been forewarned.

But here is the classic bit: â''Nanotechnology is the science and art of constructing functional and sometimes powerful devices by manipulating single atoms until they are molecularly sized.â''

Oh, where to begin? I guess the part that really struck me was that nanotechnology could make a single atom into the size of a molecule. But reading it again, I think the part that may be overlooked for its sheer wackiness is that nanotechnology will make devices that are not only functional, but sometimes powerful. I have no idea what they mean, but thereâ''s a certain poetry to it.

Certain NGOs in the past have called for a moratorium on nanotechnology, but I would like to call for a moratorium on any new definitions of nanotechnology. For the sake of humanity, just cut and paste a definition from the NNI. Stop trying to think one up yourselfâ'¿itâ''s painful.


Tech Talk

IEEE Spectrum’s general technology blog, featuring news, analysis, and opinions about engineering, consumer electronics, and technology and society, from the editorial staff and freelance contributors.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up for the Tech Alert newsletter and receive ground-breaking technology and science news from IEEE Spectrum every Thursday.