I thought the SL of this post might be a good title for a talk on nanotechnology I gave to a group of youthful students recently but respect for political correctness got the better of me. One could only wonder at the scope of the sexual harassment suits that might follow such an opening gambit. The days of risque banter in the classroom are long gone I fear.
This was the first talk on nanotechnology I had given and I had spent a rather anxious Sunday putting it together. It is the intention to offer a course, that I have designed, in the fall, although the reluctance of some of my colleagues in the division in supporting this venture is slightly surprising to say the least. In a review of the program that is currently underway, one advanced the suggestion that nanotech should be dropped! FU2 dear. I'm not sure of the identity of the individual though I have a pretty good idea.
My fear is that COD is a day late and a dollar short in the nanotech field, as readers of the Tribune might have seen a large article last Sunday on nanotechnology education with a focus on Harper College and its new program unfolding this fall. We have a lot of work to do. The skeptics will wonder how many students will want to sign up for this program and ask how many jobs are out there for these putative nanotechnicians. These are fair questions; I am also interested to know the answers. But if the answers are vague is this a justification for not trying to build for the future? Whatever the reality that nanotechnology eventually becomes, surely it will be something more than nothing, for it is so broad and so varied. This is very different from the superconducting bubble that swelled up so dramatically and faded with quiet disappointment a couple of decades ago. Sadly there are still not trains running on rails of liquid nitrogen, nor will there ever be. As I trudge between the dull red brick of Argonne's aging buildings, I am reminded of the superconductivity conference I attended in the late 80's: the first meeting I ever attended at which fashionably dressed bankers mingled with scientists, eager to buy in to a piece of the action. Looking beyond the obvious hype associated with nanobots and other far-fetched fantasies, the real applications of nanoscale materials across society in both technical (cancer treatment) and mundane (waterproof trousers)applications for me make the choice a no-brainer.