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Nano Goes to War
This is the latest chapter in Winston's continuing coverage of nanotechnology. Winston's previous articles have been about civilian use of nanotechnology. This one's about military applications.

MIT now has an Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies. It was created by a $50 million contract with the Army. According to the ISN website:

    "Our charge is to pursue a long-range vision for how technology can make soldiers less vulnerable to enemy and environmental threats. The ultimate goal is to create a 21st century battlesuit that combines high-tech capabilities with light weight and comfort."
The Signal, official publication of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, has an article in their July 2005 issue that suggests the ISN website charge understates the military potential of nanoptechnology.. Based on the AFCEA article, military nanotechnology would make a very good action film. Arnold Schwarzenegger would be first choice for the starring role given his experience in the Terminator movies.

According to seers interviewed for the AFCEN article, long-term military applications for nanotechnology include:
  • Backpacks that can change into tents or weapons at a twitch of the soldier's muscles;

  • Nanoweapons that are invisible to radar and the naked eye; and

  • Nanochemical or biological weapons that will only attack specific DNA types.
As one of the seers, Christine Peterson of the Foresight Institute explained, "This is terrifying stuff." Oh, by the way, long term in this context means more than 15 years from now. That is not a very long time from Winston's point of view.

A major military concern is that the US is not alone in developing military applications of nanotechnology. Other nations are too. Not all of those others are our friends. According to the experts interviewed in the AFCEA article, the US has only two nanochoices: beat everyone else in military applications research, or suffer the consequences.
  • Click for MIT's ISN website.
  • Click for AFCEA article.

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