Nanotechnology: the Ultimately Publicity Gimmick


What more can we say? Politics and science converge on the nanotechnology platform. This means of patterning vertically aligned carbon nanotubes is ingenious, of course, but is it of any use beyond public relations? Certainly, no other scientist has been so bold in ingratiating himself with the political establishment. Without a doubt, this is the greatest public relations coup by any modern scientist. Barack Obamas image constructed of carbon nanotubes.

Chad Mirkin and company of Northwestern University wooed Fraser Stoddart away from UCLA by making a microportrait of him using the “dip-pen nanolithography” method (see page 2). This stunt pales dramatically when compared with John Hart’s microportraiture of the most popular human being on the planet. (He would be Barack Obama.)

If his stunt proves successfull, will I have contributed to it? One would hope that publicity stunts don’t end up being the greatest value of nanotechnology. That has certainly been the case thus far.


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