Nanocosm: Nanotechnology and the Big Changes Coming from the Inconceivably Small

Nanocosm: Nanotechnology and the Big Changes Coming from the Inconceivably Small

Nanocosm: Nanotechnology and the Big Changes Coming from the Inconceivably Small

Nanocosm: Nanotechnology and the Big Changes Coming from the Inconceivably Small

Excerpt

The most amazing thing about nature is her inexhaustible variety. Scientists, technologists, and theologians speak about "nature" or "the world" as if it were a unit. But there are limitless worlds and infinite natures. Every human brain, its loves and hates and memories, has been correctly described as a three-pound universe. The Pennsylvanian biologist Loren Eiseley as great an essayist as he was a scientist, invented the concept of "weasel space" to describe the world a nonhuman mammal sees. In weasel space humans, to our own self-centered minds the pinnacles of creation, don't matter at all.

Merely varying your dimensional scale creates new worlds. Karl Marx is justly discredited as a social philosopher, but one of his points was incontrovertible: Quantitative difference creates qualitative difference. In other words, scale matters—change the number and you change the thing. That premise underlies this book.

For example, our usual human view, looking out from the surface of a rocky planet, differs from what we see from the orbit of the moon. All cosmonauts and astronauts agree the most conspicuous thing about viewing earth from space is the invisibility of national borders. The earth appears as a single entity, bearing humans not as a hodgepodge of warring clans . . .

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