Friday, August 14, 2009

Numbers 1 and 9

Occasionally I have some time on my hands. Sometimes this happens while I am eating lunch at my desk and I have already finished the morning crossword puzzle, and sometimes it occurs when I have completed one task and am not quite ready to delve into the next one. So, what does a nanotechnology blogger do when he has nothing to do? He goes to the web to look for ideas.

A few days ago I visited You-Tube and typed in the word, you guessed it, “nanotechnology.” Would you believe that I found a list of 2770 videos all tagged with that word? What I found most interesting however was that #1 in the search results (sorted by relevance) was a video I had seen about six months ago. Back then, I had made a notation that I wanted to share it with readers of this blog. I also realized that the #9 entry was a video I had seen earlier this week when searching the web for nano-related material. Both of these videos have received five-star reviews, but I can’t imagine two presentations of nanotechnology that occupy such extremes in style and content. And I loved them both.

The first video, Nanotechnology Takes Off, is from the public broadcasting station KQED in San Francisco and describes the applications of nanoscience and nanoengineering for an educated public (who else watches PBS?) in accurate, scientific, and sober terms. It features shots of suit and tie wearing scientists at Lawrence-Berkeley National Lab discussing quantum confinement, surface area, and polymer photovoltaics.

The second video, Be Amazing, is an animated, apocalyptic satire of the dangers of nanotechnology in the hands of those with evil intent. You will not be educated, but I promise you will laugh out loud.

Is there a grand conclusion to draw from the juxtaposition of these two presentations? Maybe, but I prefer to think of this as an illustration of Napoleon’s precept: “There is but one step from the sublime to the ridiculous.”

No comments:

Post a Comment