When we copy something from one computer to another, we reproduce data as a series of 0s or 1s - a string of digits that is held as information in the computer's disk-space. But what if we could reproduce something molecule by molecule - not just copying information, but copying what something is made of!? Ultimately the quest is to create a photocopier (Xerox machine) that copies objects! This could automate the manufacturing industry, and the precision of such processes would surely find application in surgery, air travel, education, food development, computing, ... perhaps almost every field of human endeavour, as well as creating some new ones along the way. It may never get that far, and it's going to be some time before it gets anywhere at all, but it is the prospect that nanotechnology may just turn out to be one of the greatest technical leaps forward in human history that is creating all that buzz...
Answered by: Sally Riordan, M.A., Management Consultant, London
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