Case Study Nanotechnology and the Dark Secret of Hendrick Schon Case Study

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Schon Dark Secret

In Unit One we defined what the natural sciences are. List 5 different natural sciences mentioned in the video and the context in which they are mentioned. (Example: Nanotechnology - molecular transistors may one day usher in a world of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is the ability to manipulate matter at the scale of atoms and molecules.)

Biology: The impact to the human body of nanobots would be beneficial to health cures.

Chemistry: The knowledge of basic molecular relationships is explicit when mentioning this type of molecular technology.

Physics: The laws of motion affect the behavior of grey goo.

Earth Science: The weather implications and disaster prevention benefits were discussed as positive consequences of nanobot technology.

Biophysics: This specific field of natural science is the predominant arena for the study of nanotechnology as it is related to the human body.

Define Moore's Law and describe its effect on society.

According to the film "Moore's Law states that computer power doubles every eighteen months." This law appears to have been diminished in recent times, and the conclusion of the film supports this idea as well. However, if this rate of computing power continues, this event could make our dependency on computers inescapable. The great technology boom of the last ten years has shown changes. However, for economic purposes, it seems that society has not yet mastered their potential. This can be seen in the global financial crises of the last 4 years. The film points out that humanity and technology need to coexist in a balanced relationship or disasters may arise due to the failure of purposeful intent.

3. Describe and define what is meant by nanotechnology/nanobots.

Nanotechnology is the study of microscopically small implementations of technology. The benefits of this technology is that miniaturization of specific beneficial technology allows for more compact and efficient usage of computer technology. The nanobots specifically refer to the robotic qualities of self-contained organic microscopic particles. These robots can be programmed to control satellites, adjust air conditioners and about anything else normal computing
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and automatic systems can perform. According to the film the Schon's work seemed very important to the future "It seemed like a fantastic idea. Scrap silicon and use organic molecules. It could transform society and might one day blast open the world of nanotechnology."

4. What is meant by the "grey goo" problem?

Grey goo is a hypothetical problem that represents the problem of human technology spinning out of control. The film depicted this problem as catastrophic due to nanobots eventually gaining consciousness and overpowering humanity. The classic horror films Frankenstein and The Blob tell a very similar story. Grey goo is an unrealistic problem at this time due to the eventual failures of Schon's work. Today, grey goo exists in a different form. Powerful weapons with the ability to blow up the world one hundred times over have been around for many years. This should encourage scientists to remain conservative when applying overwhelming technology to human problems.

5. If we perfected nanotechnology, other than medical technology and cures, what do you think is the single most positive thing about it and why?

In my opinion, the best application of perfect nanotechnology rests in its ability to save time and effort. Most of the world is overwhelmed by little problems that confuse and distract form more important human interactions. Free energy would result from this technology and with that result, it would change the structure of society into one that focuses more on cooperation than competition. Nanotechnology could help reduce the political tensions between nations and ideals as the competition for resources would greatly diminished. This is impossible however without the proper shift in the ethical scientific application, otherwise we risk the grey goo problem.

6. If we perfected nanotechnology, other than weapons and war technology, what do you think is the single most negative thing about it and why?

If nanotechnology is perfected, the drastic changes would cause great anxiety around the world. This technology is so powerful, the way that the modern world change very rapidly. For instance the oil industry would collapse along with millions of jobs and careers. These widespread changes would cause panic and confusion for many due to their jobs and…

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Works Cited

"The Dark Side Secret of Hendrik Schon." (5 Feb,2004). Horizon Season 40 Episode 11. Narrated by Jack Fortune.

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