Mar 17 2008

Book Short: Smaller is the New Small

Book Short: Smaller is the New Small

Last month, it was Microtrends. This month, it’s MIT Professor Ted Sargent’s The Dance of Molecules: How Nanotechnology is Changing Our Lives. It seems like all the interesting things in life are just getting smaller and smaller. (Note to self: lose some weight.)

Sargent’s book is geeky but well-written. He dives into a couple dozen examples across many fields and disciplines of how nanotechnology holds extraordinary promise for solving some of mankind’s toughest scientific challenges — while creating a few new ethical and economic ones.

The science is for the most part beyond me, but the practical applications are fascinating:

– making solar power the sole source of global energy needs a possibility

– detecting cancer at the level of a single cancer cell rather than waiting to discover a grape-sized tumor; curing that cancer through embedded “pharmacy on a chip” drugs that release the right drugs over long periods of time locally at the spot of the disease

– figuring out how to keep proving the ever-more-challenging Moore’s law when only 4 years from now, parts of a transistor will need to be only 5 atoms across

– curing blindness with wireless retinal implants

Once every year or so, I read a book that makes me sad I didn’t go into engineering or science. The Dance of Molecules is that kind of book.