Friday, May 04, 2007

The N-word

In yesterday's New York times (p. C3), reporter John Markoff wrote about an advance announced by IBM (Almaden lab) to make faster and more energy efficient chips. I found it curious that, despite the article's reference to "atomic scale holes," "ultrathin wires," and the use of a "self-assembly" technique, the word nanotechnology never appeared.

Coincidence? Has the use of nano in electronics become so ubiquitous that it hardly bears mentioning? Or have companies like IBM ceded the n-word to the debaters about EHS issues while they continue to make advances in their nano products? Are they placing less value of labeling their technology as nano? Or was this simply a term Markoff decided not to use? What's going on?

Note: a follow up piece about the IBM announcement posted today by AP does make use of the magic n-word.


  1. I noticed this, too- I saw the AP piece first, though. What caught my attention was the reference to the novelty of nanoassemblers - nanoscale assemblers have long been associated with a different view of nanotechnology - one that seems too close to sci fi for comfort for some. Though the novelty was commented on, there was no other reference to the history of the nanoassemblers idea (ie. Drexler, various works of science fiction, ...).

  2. yep - nanoassemblers, self-assembly. all interesting words. no mention to their earlier usage in different contexts.