Earlier this week, CNN posted an article titled, "Will nanotech save the world or is it mostly hype?"
That sort of headline would seem to suggest a mostly skeptical treatment of the topic. But, lo and behold, the second paragraph of the article says:
While its benefits are still years away from reaching the public, scientists hope nanotechnology -- the manipulation of atoms as raw materials -- will eventually live up to the hype it's received for its potential to advance medicine, electronics and manufacturing.
Not so skeptical after all. Perhaps the tide is shifting.
Now look at this description of a May 2004 symposium on the biomedical applications of nanoelectromechanical systems (bioNEMS), sponsored by the Center for Interdisciplinary Research of the University of Southern California and the National Cancer Institute:
About one half of the symposium will be devoted to cancer. The emphasis throughout the day will be on nano (not micro) systems, and in vivo (not in vitro) applications. A fulll-fledged nanosystem (e.g., a nanorobot) is expected to have overall dimensions on the order of a micrometer but will be made from nanoscale components with sizes ~ 1-100 nm.
Note that it takes a thousand 100-nm parts to make a 1-micron robot. So this conference is talking about fairly complex and advanced devices. It appears that the ideas of molecular manufacturing are finally becoming acceptable for academic discussion.