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Nanotechnology in fiction

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Nanotechnology and its use in fiction has attracted scholarly attention.[1][2] The first use of the distinguishing concepts of nanotechnology was in "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom," a talk given by physicist Richard Feynman in 1959. K. Eric Drexler's 1987 book Engines of Creation introduced the general public to the concept of nanotechnology. After this, nanotechnology was used often in science fiction as a sort of catch-all technology that could explain far-fetched technologies or allow characters to be or do almost anything.[3]

In the 1956 short story "The Next Tenants" Arthur C. Clarke describes tiny machines that operate on a microscale (thousandth of a meter), not on a nanoscale (billionth of a meter). Despite the difference in scale, the idea behind the technology in Clarke's story is basically the same as nanotechnology. Robert Silverberg's 1969 short story "How It Was when the Past Went Away" describes nanotechnology used stereo loudspeakers, with a thousand speakers per inch.[3]

Some critics think that nanotechnology is too risky to be developed without further study. Science fiction writers like Michael Crichton have explored the potential risks of nanotechnology in their work.[4] Crichton's 2002 novel Prey is probably the first best-seller with a theme based entirely on nanotechnology. Prey is a cautionary tale about a colony of molecule-sized nanorobots that develop artificial intelligence and become dangerous. In an article in Parade magazine, Crichton suggests that nanorobots smaller than dust could be programmed to travel over other countries in a cloud to take reconnaissance photographs.[3]


  1. ^ "Tiny Tech, Transcendent Tech - Nanotechnology, Science Fiction, and the Limits of Modern Science Talk" by Daniel Patrick Thurs in Science Communication, Vol. 29, No. 1, 65-95 (2007)
  2. ^ Bridging the Gaps: Science Fiction in Nanotechnology by José López in International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry, Vol. 10, No.2 (2004), pp. 129-152.
  3. ^ a b c Bly, Robert W., 2005, The Science In Science Fiction: 83 SF Predictions that Became Scientific Reality, BenBella Books, Inc., ISBN 1932100482.
  4. ^ Schwarz, James A., Contescu, Cristian I., Putyera, Karol, 2004, Dekker Encyclopedia of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, CRC Press, ISBN 0824750500.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Nanotechnology_in_fiction". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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