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Nano Technology Beyond Sight but not Imagination

Nano TechnologyIt's impact on future of the society

The paradox of life is that it is getting bigger (in terms of convenience, comfort and cure) with smaller things and smaller to the extent of one billionth of a particle.


This size is obviously beyond normal sight but it is not beyond our imagination. Well this is nano technology for us. The technology that makes structural changes at the molecular level, on the smallest particle in the universe called atom.Nanometer is one billionth of a meter and to put this size into perspective know this that our hair is 80,000 nanometers. To a common man this is almost like working at an invisible level but human intuition and entrepreneurship has led to this miraculous break through. The pioneer being, Sir Harry Kroto, Nobel Laureate for chemistry in 1996. Each and every thing that we see around us, natural or manmade, is an arrangement of atoms of same or different elements. These different arrangements create different materials; the most common example is that of diamond and graphite, both are varied arrangements of carbon atoms.

But Sir Harry discovered a third form of carbon molecule called buckyball. The magic of this arrangement as nano-technology material as reported by Sir Harry is that when a buckyball is drawn into a carbon nanotube, it is 100 times stronger than steel and gives better conductivity than copper. This is only a glimpse of the wondrous changes that the world may undergo with nano-technology finding a place in our daily lives. In a recent knowledge summit held in New Delhi on the future of bio-nanotechnology, all the erudite speakers including Sir Harry Kroto, Swami Ramdev an eminent spiritual and Yoga guru of current times in and other eminent scientists stressed on the presence of intuition even in scientific discovery. There are no written norms or directions for a scientist to take up research in a particular field. It is through intuition or a sense of vision that he chooses to research a particular area. Is it then not correct to say that there is an invisible and unknown force even behind scientific progress? The invisible power is given logic and reason by materialistic creation. And this is what nano-technology is all about.

This newest and tiniest technology has the bearing of a mammoth industry with tremendous implications on all aspects of life in the coming times . The National Science Foundation has estimated that in just over a decade, nanotechnology will be a $1 trillion industry employing over 2 million workers worldwide. Now this figure is too big to go unnoticed. Interestingly Bill Perry, vice president of marketing, sales and business development at Nano-mix, a nanotech pioneer states that, "what you look for in nano-technology are the same things that you look for in any business ventures. Seeking out nano-technology for its own sake is not logical . Nano pants are great, but they had better help you to sell more pants and bring more money ." This is indeed true. Any research must have real practical utility as well. Progress through scientific advancement is possible only when it can improve our living standards and commercialization of technology is justified as long as it is for human growth without jeopardizing peace and environment. Nano-technology is finding its application from our wardrobes to wind shields and skin to sports. There are nano-enhanced sunscreen lotions with "nano-crystaline" version. The sun screens earlier contained particles that reflected light. Though the stuff is same even now but the particles are smaller and do not reflect light. A US-California based company Nano-Tex has come up with an odour resistant and stain resistant fibre, combining hydrophobic whiskers with normal cotton molecules. There are golf balls being made to fly straight, tennis racquets with lighter and stronger frame with extra pop. Companies like GE, Boeing, etc are trying to use nano-composite materials to make better engine parts.

Another great application of nanotechnology has been by DuPont as reported by the press. It has come up with new Voltron, an extremely durable wire coating for heavy duty electric motors. Under powerful microscope it was observable that the previous coatings had loosely packed chemical components with irregular spaces between the molecules. This makes the material easily breakable. But Voltron's nano-scale particles fill in many of the voids, making it a sturdier insulator with longer durability. As per DuPont's tests, a coating of Voltron extended the time between failures on an electric motor by a factor of 10 to more than 100 hours. That has a very huge impact on energy savings for . The fact that 19 out of 30 companies in the Dow Jones industrial index have launched nano initiative, explains the immense possibility and expectations that this technology promises . It might be time for yet another technological and manufacturing revolution like electricity and internet .


Sabeer Bhatia who revolutionized the e mail communication with hotmail.com and sold it to Bill Gates-Microsft for $400m way back has announced a knowledge city by the name Nano City in joint venture with Haryana Government one of the very progressive IT hubs of REPUBLIC OF INDIA . He has promosed to make it as vibrating as the Silicon valley in US-California . The Nano City will house nano-technology, bio-sciences and software technology parks for a unique blend of developments , inventions and discoveries for the benefit of future generations .
But the most dynamic manipulations will emerge with the amalgam of nano-technology, biology and medicine. When a human discovery or invention can ameliorate human pain and suffering, the dimensions of honor and mass acceptance are attached to it. Man has undoubtedly gone to basal levels at causing human suffering but it is also man who has used his intuition and intelligence to alleviate pain through cures. Nano-technology might give answers to many such incurable questions. The concept of personalized medication and treatment is a promising new area with nano-technology opening new vistas. Diseases and patients are heterogeneous and therefore treatments need to be specifically individualized. The particles at the nano level give an opportunity to administer only the required dosage of medication thereby removing the side effects and reducing costs that come with expensive and strong medication.

Nano-technology has application in the treatment of cancer as well. Scientists are researching to use silicon spheres coated with gold to attack tumors. Rays of infrared light can heat the gold and the heat in turn kills the cancer. On similar lines, nano-filters can be used to purify blood. Further Telomolecular Corporation, a Delaware corp., is engineering a new class of drugs to deliver large molecule proteins important in the treatment of aging and age related diseases across human cell membranes. It is aimed at repairing and restoring the degraded chromosomal telomeres by introducing a catalytic enzyme TERT intracellularly. Successful therapies based on this tactic may very significantly offset and potentially correct many kinds of devastating age related diseases and fundamentally reverse the process of human aging. Another Austin (Tex.) organization LabNow Inc. is developing a blood laboratory on a chip the size of business card, by using micro sensors and channels to address the wildly spreading epidemic of AIDS. The patient places a single drop of blood on the chip, which is then inserted into a small electronic reader. Within seconds, HIV/AIDS patients can get a count of their white blood cells which is a very crucial measurement for their treatment. In poor and underdeveloped countries such tests take weeks and months and patients die waiting for results.

The possibilities of nano-technology are very far reaching and benefits immense but skepticism still lingers on over the possible hazards of nano-particles on human health and environment. The other side of the coin cannot be ignored in the glow of one shining side. Nano particles used as anti-tumor agents are so small that they might make their way inside the human brain and damage it. Likewise if leaked from a factory, the particles might destroy river bacteria which lie at the base of food chain. Some studies have also concluded that the small size of nano particles can cause severe reactions in the pulmonary system. On the other hand, tests performed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), working with carbon nano-tubes indicate that very few nano-particles escape into the air where they could potentially be inhaled by workers. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to spend $6 million funding studies on potential nano-technology impact. The future appears exciting and promising with nano revolution but equal importance needs to given on research to fully understand the potential harms and disadvantages that could be brought upon the human beings and the environment . Proper regulations, guidelines need to be framed keeping in mind workers and environmental safety.

But a deeper question or thought that springs from this revolutionary technology is that of understanding science. Is science creating something out of nothingness or creating new things out of something? some particle? however small it may be. Rather it will be correct to say that ideas come from nothingness i.e. they come from pure imagination or creative visualization which then gets form through a particle and its arrangement. Similarly can we not say that we create ourselves not out of nothingness but from a spirit which is invisible but existent and needs to be discovered like nano-particles?

Indeed what we create out of our spirit and body with the intelligence of mind determining the direction in which we use any technology. Sir Kroto rightly pointed out that there can be no progress without risks, DDT and penicillin being objective examples. But if these powerful creations get into wrong hands it can thwart peace and humanity. When science is understood in the right perspective and applied in the true spirit, the miracles of nature begin to appear rational and narrow the gulf between science and spiritualism. Spirituality is discovering the inner core of our existence and applying it in our daily lives. The same principles guide all our technologies, be it nuclear, nano or bio. Science and spirituality merge at the point where human ego vanishes. We are highly evolved species of the universe and aware of our nature and capabilities. We need to live to this awareness for a more affluent and abundant universal today and tomorrow and leave a glorious legend behind shining as SUN STAR in the UNIVERSE.