Art, Science + Technology

DMA9 Fall 2007, Section B

Nano tech suits and beyond.

 Nano technology is a relatively new field in science. After all, we only got our nanotech building up this year. We now have the technology to manipulate atoms and molecules at that scale. The first idea that pops up when thinking of nanotech are robots in the human body that repair tissue. That maybe possible in the future, but may not be possible now because of limits with artificial intelligence. This topic reminded me of a cartoon I saw when I was younger. It was Spiderman Unlimited.

He had a wrist watch that contained nanomachines, that when activated, came out and formed his suit. It would protect him from villains, repair his body, and give him special powers.

There is also a game released recently named “Crysis” that involves US special soldiers equipped with a protective nanosuit that gives them super human abilities.


So many different things are influenced by the idea of nano technology. Now that nanotechnology is maybe some of these visions will come true. But now that we have nanotechnology, the next advancement is pecotechnology (10^-12 for those of you that don’t know).

To Infinity and Beyond

It’s kind of odd, how widely misunderstood the idea of infinity is; or, if the concept itself is understood, its implications are not. Clearly, Buzz Lightyear was a nutjob who thought you could travel beyond ‘infinity’. Unfortunately, many if not most people are just as ridiculous.

One common misconception, for example, is the treatment of infinity as a number. Really, folks, just because something is used in mathematics doesn’t make it a number. Arguments that devolve from “uh-huh” and “nuh-uh” to “uh-huh TIMES INFINITY” and “nuh-huh TIMES INFINITY PLUS ONE”, though (hopefully) not reflective of the true intellect of those involved, exacerbates the false definition.

Another mistake: an infinite universe necessitates infinite matter within the universe, arrange in infinite arrangements. It’s surprising how many people would be amazed to hear that, assuming our universe is infinitely expanding, there is NO reason to believe that somewhere out there aliens exist. One begins to think these people are the same who mishandled ‘infinity’ in math, as well; anyone who has divided one by three can find an infinite sequence with a finite variety of numerals.

I realize at this point that nobody cares how many other people misuse vocabulary; after all, modern society spits on language in favor of looking like a moron on the internet. Strange value systems aside, I think the concept of ‘infinity’ is much more important than grammatical crimes, and society’s inability to understand it speaks a lot about our breadth of mind.

Of course, it may not seem like it matters, given that people have been making the same mistakes for eons. Yet humankind is spreading at a frightening rate; advances in information technology, communications, transportation, and other fields have massively increased the reach of each person. Before widespread sea travel came around, a person in Europe could be completely mistaken as to how far the Americas were, and it wouldn’t really make a difference to everyday life. But those distances became important as improving capabilities put them within reach. Same deal with air travel. Now, as society eyes the ‘final frontier’ of space, a true understanding of what space really entails is becoming more relevant.

Such a literal context, however, might make it seem insignificant; we’re not vacationing to the moon yet, after all. In that case, consider the somewhat recent movement for people to become ‘global citizens’. Belonging to the Earth instead of a nation, it is said, would promote responsibility to treat the planet well, as well as sympathy towards others far away from you. In my opinion, the realization that an infinite universe does not automatically supply us with another inhabitable planet is a frightening and much more effective way to put our planet’s ills in context. It makes you realize how small, fragile, and unique the Earth truly is, and how moronic it is for us to blindly mistreat it.

Also, it means all those people studying stars that are millions of light-years away are wasting their time. That’s like dreaming of a space shuttle before the steam engine was invented. Let’s get that space elevator up and running, and connect it to a lunar colony. That sounds better to me.

Nano? Not now

                I was intrigued by Jim’s idea that knowledge can hinder creativity. The story of the two gentlemen who invented the scanning tunnel microscope who lacked the knowledge of other scientists. If they had too much knowledge, they would have abandoned the idea.  Knowledge can put a box around what we think is possible.  But obviously a base level of knowledge must be had to understand the possibilities. A young child cannot influence nano-tech, but on the opposite end of the spectrum neither can the very old. An old way of thinking become conservative and tend to think within reason. The young scientists are the innovators.

                Jim Gimzewski said that a lot of the new nanotechnology really has no use. The story of the bucky ball Nobel Prize was quite funny. But it is true a lot of these discoveries has been science for the sake of science. Although impressive, what impact does arranging atoms in the letters IBM. All ideas have been based on speculation of what could be. The smallest gear could have a use in microscopic motors, but we do not currently have a use for them.

                The HAARP project in Alaska is controversial, but I believe the suspicion is unfounded. The energy available to the HAARP project is really not all that much. The ability currently of the station to inflict any really damage on the world is small. But the capabilities in the future may be different.  However all of the speculation of what the public says is not necessarily a bad thing. Being able to control the weather to a degree could have amazing benefits. During the wildfires in Southern California, we really could have used a little rain to put out of the fire, or rain counteract a drought that is killing thousands of people. There are some potentially dangerous abilities of HAARP but we must be prepared do have defenses against nuclear threats.

week 9

Everyone presented innovative designs on Monday for the final.  Many of the projects seemed to focus on pollution and depleting water availability.  One presentation that was particularly interesting was the one about water music.  My project also dealt with water and music.  I designed a musical instrument that was played by music.  The other project recorded water sounds and combined them to make a song.  The best projects seem to be the ones where the student actually carries out the proposals.  What made that project so interesting was that he actually recorded the sounds of water like rain or a faucet and compiled them into an actual song.  Another project that was interesting for the same reason was the tornado sculpture.  The group actually constructed a model of the sculpture.

                It was surprising to see that so many people chose water as their element, myself included.  At first I wanted to do fire, so that I could relate it to the wildfires occurring in Southern California, but as I was developing my idea, I decided to use water.  Water was easier to adapt to an art/science idea.  Also, water is already used often as an art form in fountains.  It will be interesting to see how popular the other elements were.  Since I almost chose fire, I really want to see those too.  I’m excited to see the rest of the presentations tomorrow!

Nanotechnology and Construction

Currently construction process is planning, gathering materials, and putting together materials through cutting to shape the materials and welding the materials together. If materials aren’t cut into right shape and welded together throughly, the resulting building may be structurally weak and break down. But sometimes the materials might not be easy to cut, and welding could be hard to do because how the joints are formed. Sometimes the excess materials cut may be put as scrap metal and be wasted.

But what if the materials are made into very small pieces from the beginning? What if materials are made into couple molecules big nano-robots and the robots receive instructions to how to join to form the structure? This concept is used in a computer game named Total Annihilation.

A battleship’s layout is projected by laser imaging, and the bunches of nano-robots (seen as lumps of green in the screen shot) adhere to the projected image. This way, materials for the battleship doesn’t have to be forged into shape, but just needs to be made into nano-robots and they will attach themselves to the projection and build the battleship themselves. Of course the materials have to go through process to be made into nano-robots, but other than that, the whole construction process becomes simplified. This kind of construction is not currently possible, but I think this definitely could be one of the utilization of nanotechnology once the technology level reaches this stage.

Week#9: Space and Nanos

Common themes of space in popular culture?

            Space exploration or adventure is a popular subject in the science fiction genre.  In general, space settings are usually set far into the future, which has limitless possibilities.  It is in the future that space travel capable starships are developed and earth has already made contact with alien races.  A popular series that seems to follow that premise is Star Trek where the focus is on the adventures of one starship as it explores space.  Exploration of space in fiction may be a way for people to channel their exploration drive now that pretty much all of earth is mapped.  In the past, before satellites and such, there were many unknowns on the planet itself that people didn’t really think about what is beyond space.

            There is one particular sci-fi show that is interesting to note: Stargate SG1.  It is a space exploration/adventure show set in the present.  It is interesting to watch how space exploration is a possibility as of today in the show.  If it is possible now, I don’t think it would be along the line as the sci-fi genre would portray.  I think it would be, though exciting, would be quite arduous.  It may even take a long while before man kind makes any contact of aliens, hopefully nice ones. 

Nanotechnology in fiction and in real life?

Nanotechnology portrayed by fiction is quite easy to understand, at least the concept of it.  First, there is the idea that nanotechnology equates to nano-bots, or tiny microscopic machines, that can do various things.  Their functions can range from enhancing human performance, fixing flesh or inorganic damages, run robots, and so on.  Well, that is basically what comes to my mind when I think of nanotechnology…I immediately think of those fictional nano-bots that I see all the time in sci-fi shows like in Star Trek with the Borgs.  

But, Professor James Gimzewski was able to enlightenment me on the reality of Nanotechnology.  No, it isn’t the wondrous nano-bots, at least not yet.  Instead, Gimzewski talked about buckyballs, which I still don’t quite understand yet, and about the scanning tunneling microscope.  He then talked about some of his projects like the nano-abacus and how he made a nano spinning thingy.  He then talked about something I was more familiar with, like the carbon nano tube thingy, which was thought to be able to be used in a space elevator.  I had read like short passage about the plausibility of the space elevator and about the carbon nano wire.  Overall, Gimzewski’s lecture was really informative.

Nanotech: Bottom Up Building

First of all what’s the difference? Bottom up or Top down.

Well building top down starts with much larger materials and break them down and down using a series of chemical, mechanical and other processes. The goal is to make nano-materials from stock materials. The other method, bottom up production, involves starting the production of the desired molecules or materials with the atoms or individual molecular scale. They manipulate individual atoms and molecules so that the produced material are formed and can be controlled. Specific characteristics of a molecule that are beneficial to control include: particle size, shape, contents, and others.

What benefits are there to building bottom up? The major improvement in bottom up technology is the ability to manipulate matter at the smallest level, the atomic level. This allows materials to be formed with more advanced properties and allows innovative applications. New materials with super properties can be formed. Their strength, density, durability can all be modified to make the material more beneficial. This can help to make electronics smaller, which is almost the holy grail of nanotechnology. The nano-chip. To make computer chips on such a small scale that super computers can be created. There are so many expectations from nanotechnology that it seems like it will redefine the world and its materials as we know it.

So what’s so tough with building from the bottom up? That is from taking the small particles and putting them together to form larger products. I mean after all it can’t be that hard if nature does it on its own. That is how nature builds it’s own molecules.

What we might not realize is that there are specific conditions and exact requirements for certain molecules to be produced. Those conditions are met in nature do not necessarily create the molecules that we want. But that’s how it always is. Something is given and we want it to change. So we must introduce some sort of limit or constricting method on the molecules and processes. This insures that the materials meet the specifications that we want. This is very difficult to do and often times requires creativity to introduce the restraining limit. Creativity is not even the major problem.

Right now a big problem with Botom Up building is that it takes such a long time to build itself up. One material that has been developed is a nano-elevator. It is 2.5 nanometers high and 3.5 nanometers wide. It can build itself in a week and then move up and down one nanometer. Scientists would like to someday have some materials they can mix together and will build walls by themselves. They don’t however want it to take forever for it to build itself.