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Nano goes Pop

Page history last edited by frogheart@... 15 years, 10 months ago

Nanotechnology has been entering pop culture consciousness for decades. Marketers have sold the iPod Nano (a mobile media player) and the nano car in India[1] while storytellers have given us nanobots in US television programmes such as 'Stargate'[2] and nano-oriented novels such as Neal Stephenson's 'Diamond Age'[3] (optioned by US movie star George Clooney's production company for a movie.[4]) Lately, this action is concurrent with nanotechnology products entering the marketplace.


A lot more pervasive than most of us realize, there were over 600 nanotech products listed in the Project for Emerging Nanotechnologies database, as of April 2008, with a rate of three to four new products being added every week (in the US and presumably elsewhere). Many of these products are meant for consumers. The database of 600 includes nine nanotechnology toothpastes available in stores. (e.g. Swissdent Nanowhitening Toothpaste with 'calcium peroxides in the form of nanoparticles'.)[5]


Pop culture purveyors include scientists and activists along with the marketers and the storytellers. Scientists, like marketers, want to engage the public imagination and foster positive feelings so that we will support funding for their work or buy their products. Activists engage the public imagination in a bid to alert people to risks and potential problems. Storytellers act both as advocates presenting utopian possibilities and devil's advocates noting potential dystopias, sometimes all in the same story. A powerful example of a pop culture myth being fused with scientific progress and resultant concerns is the 'frankenfood' story. (For more about frankenfood, under Jump points, click on Activists, and from that page click on Frankenstein and frankenfoods).


Pop culture provides many, many venues for viewing nanotechnology.


Jump points

Activists get in on nano action

Marketers put the buy in nano

Scientists play too

Storytellers create nano 



  1. Nussbaum, Bruce (Jan. 10, 2008) India's New $2500 Car, The Tata Nano, Looks Great. Business Week Design Blog, Nussbaum on Design. [Online blog posting] (Accessed August 20, 2008 from http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/NussbaumOnDesign/archives/2008/01/indias_new_car.html)
  2. Wikipedia (n. d.) Nanotechnology in fiction and popular culture. [Online essay] (Accessed August 3, 2008 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanotechnology) Note: Could not get the url for the essay page, click on essay listed in sidebar on right side of page)
  3. Stephenson, N. (2003) The Diamond Age. 2003 Bantam trade paperback reissue of 1996 novel, New York, New York, Bantam Books.
  4. SciFi Wire, (January 12, 2007) Clooney, Others Develop SciFi Shows. [Online news release] (Accessed January 12, 2007 from http://www.scifi.com/scifiwire/index.php?category=0&id=39447)
  5. Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (April. 24, 2008) New Nanotech Products Hitting the Market at the Rate of 3-4 per Week. Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Pew Charitable Trusts. [Online news release] (Accessed May 23, 2008 from http://www.nanotechproject.org/news/archive/6697/)

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