I’m… surprised I haven’t written anything this month other than Happy New Year. I think I should have been more active in this site and learn how to write good opinion rather than yelling around, Ha! Let’s discuss something interesting before January ends. The background story comes from a nice chit-chat with my cousin and about my trip to Japan next month. I forgot what I talked about – I only remember I was talking non-stop about Japan and Osaka University and what I will do there in two weeks stay. Then here comes a good question from him: “What do you research?”

I explained briefly that I am going to design a material to improve rechargeable battery performance by computation method – using computers. Then he asked me something about “material design” and mentioned if I were to play God by creating new material. At an instant, I know what it means, but since he is not a physicist or scientist and (I know) he is not interested if I bring Schrodinger Equation or Quantum Physics there, I just put a wide grin and said, “Nope, just like what chemists do when they make drugs.” I hope my answer is quite clear, if not I don’t know what answer I should give.

In the eye of people, “nano-thingy” is related to “create a new material – and the One who has right to create material is God – so in other words, people who create new material is playing God.”

This statement often spurs from people not from this field. Nanoscience and nanotechnology is rather new for them and the implementation is very few compared to others. Yes, some countries have begun using nanotechnology for medical purpose, injecting sensors to monitor certain parameter inside our body like glucose or fighting cancer. But other than that, I think not that many. Ask people around you about thin film technology, SEM, TEM, spintronics, carbon nanotubes… and you may get questions rather than answer. It’s totally normal, although it had been developed since the birth of quantum physics in Einstein era, the theory itself is “strange and weird” in the first place. For example, electron is BOTH particle and wave. That alone is “weird”. And oh, even Microsoft Word and WordPress don’t recognize word for “nanoscience” and “spintronics”.

By observation, mentioning “quantum PHYSICS” in front of people that is not a physicist will give a “no, I don’t want to hear anything about it, don’t you start a physics lecture here I’m allergic to it” look. However, the ones who is into art usually takes slight interest in it. One person whom I know that developing a fictional feline character named Schrodinger certainly can’t explain the meaning of its name. All he know, may be, Schrodinger Cat’s “alive?/die?”  nature which cannot be determined and it serves as fascinating idea for fiction writers. This example is quite important. In famous literature, nanotechnology is often used as advanced technology in the future where the ones injected with it turns super-humans or monsters as well as teleportation, nanomachines, time-travel, robotics, and shape-shifting girls. These literature are the ones reached people (….added by scientists portrayed as mad people pursuing knowledge and perfection in comics…) Look we have tvtropes article about this topic.

“Nanotechnology and material design don’t mean we are acting like God (misconception about “creating new material”). We just simply… y’know, playing with LEGO BLOCKS that is provided by Him.”

Are we playing God? Nope. We are just playing with those lego-blocks called “atoms/particles” that is provided since the birth of the universe. Periodic table and atoms that are listed there are the blocks. We cannot change Hydrogen’s nature – we can’t make one water molecule to weigh 10 ton or washing our dishes because we told them to. What will come if we compound montmorillonite and poly(ethylene oxide)? We don’t know, that’s why research is made based on previous researches and extensive simulation. Even when we tried so hard to understand the nature of material we ‘created’, it isn’t as easy as flipping one’s foot. Defects will be there. Anomaly will always be there.

We don’t know God’s creation’s nature, so we do some research. Our findings will then be used to improve humanity’s lifestyle.

Solar cell, battery, ultra-hydrophobic glass, and biomaterial to fight cancer are few examples of this field. Is there something wrong in it? In my opinion, nope. BUT. There always be a possibility to make it nastier than those in fiction works.

Human cloning has always been a hot topic since years ago (five years ago at least, since I learned Dolly’s existence in my high school years). The art of cloning itself is a technique found by researcher and it is proven possible to do it to mammals (think Dolly the sheep) which means it is possible to do human cloning. But until now, only partial cloning ever made for medical purpose. Nanotechnology is the same. They are only TOOLS for us to improve society and we scientists are bound by moral and etiquette. It is up to people how they want to use these tools.

You heard it right. “these people” are often politicians.