Nanotechnology and Nanoscience (28 Apr 2005)
Centuries ago, the watchmaker and instrument-maker with his eye-glass was working at the limit of then-available technology, in fabricating mechanisms which could hardly be seen by the naked eye. His was the technique which prefigured the almost infinitely-smaller technologies of today that have been enabled by the broad range of new microscopes and analytical tools.
But to go back to where I started this evening, I celebrate the fact that as the last century came to a close we saw the small catch up with the large in terms of practical significance to the human race. It would have been difficult to persuade Brunel that the ability to design and fabricate at the nanometre scale was going to have as much impact upon people as the ability to build bridges and railways, but I believe that this is now the case. Humankind stands to benefit as much - or more - from the brilliant array of nanotechnologies I have described as it did from the giant engineering achievements of a century or more ago.
Article URL: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/reith2005/lecture4.shtml
(Reith Lectures 2005)
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