Nano!

Let’s start small, shall we? So, so small. Waaaay smaller than microscopic. Nano small. But what does nano even mean?

In the realm of nano, things are measured in nanometers. A nanometer is a billionth of a meter (for those of us who are metrically challenged, a meter is just a little over three feet). It’s often difficult to grasp what a billion looks like, so we invite you to imagine it this way: your fingernails grow one nanometer every second. If you wanted to watch your fingernails grow to be a meter in length (a billion nanometers), you would have to stare at them for about 31.7 years. Your DNA is about two nanometers wide. An average strand of human hair is about 100,000 nanometers wide.

And nano science and engineering - the giant umbrella under which we shelter all sorts of topics such as super-small natural phenomena, nanotechnology, and nanomedicine - is a rapidly emerging field with a very real, very relevant impact on our quality of life (societal and ethical implications, if you want to be fancy about it). It has great benefits, and hand-in-hand with those benefits can come great risks.