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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Not only is Nanocosm, by William Illsey Atkinson, an incredibly detailed account of the magnificently tiny cosmos; it is a personal account by the author of how nanotechnology has the potential to improve the lives of millions of people through the fields of nano-manufacturing, nano-surfacing, and nano-medicine. Like Gulliver among the Lilliputians, when you read Atkinson's excellent book, you traverse the tiny domain of the nanometer -- and are mesmerized by the breadth and scope of the infinitesimal.
The author begins by explaining that in order to understand the future of nanotechnology, you need to think of it as engineering at the molecular level with raw materials such as carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen atoms. The engineers will arrange these atoms in new ways to develop materials that are stronger, smaller, tougher, but also lighter, more resilient and less expensive. All of this while at the same time protecting the environment by not depleting non-renewable resources. Next, the author discusses how in the near future, nanoscale pincers measuring only one or two atoms in size will be used to manipulate other individual atoms to create an unending array of new products. For example, these new products would include, but are not limited to, drill bits that almost never go dull; eyeglasses that will never scratch; antifreeze proteins that prevent damage during low-temperature transportation of human organs for transplantation; transistors 100 times smaller and 1,000 times faster than current technology allows; nanoshells that protect transplanted pancreatic cells from attack by the immune system (helping to reverse diabetes); automobile tires that virtually never go flat; kitchen and bathroom windows that never need cleaning (but stay clear and transparent); and a unique therapy that kills only cancer cells by target heat transfer. The book also alludes to another near-term product you can expect to see: a cheap, safe, anti-virus, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal hand cream that kills microbes on contact. While the preceding items are either already here or very near, the author points out that other products still on the drawing board are even more exciting. For example, what about a supercomputer that holds the entire Library of Congress but is only the size of a cube of sugar; or bio-composites smaller than a human cell that can increase the strength of your bones and tendons.
For many, the author explains, the most anticipated benefit of nanotechnology will be the medical breakthroughs for curing disease and improving life, maybe even lengthening it without aging. He goes on to explain that nanotechnology one day will enable scientists to turn off the switches that do the things you don't want (like cause aging or cancer or kidney failure). In other words, scientists will have the key to ending disease! And, if scientists can keep the things you want from being turned off, they'll be able to extend youthful vigor, maintain lean body mass, and postpone aging. Finally, the author explains, nanotechnology will soon (maybe in the next 10 to 20 years) eliminate most of the more dreaded and common diseases.
So, whether you are interested in the as yet unexplored potential applications of nanotechnology, or whether you want a guide in your explorations of a new and exciting scientific frontier, the author has written this outstanding book with you in mind. Enjoy! John R. Vacca
John R. Vacca, the former computer security official (CSO) for NASA's space station program (Freedom), has written nearly 40 books about advanced storage, computer security, and aerospace technology.