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1 The Nanomeme Syndrome Blurring of fact fiction in the construction of a new science Jim Gimzewski and Victoria Vesna Abstract In both the philosophical and visual sense seeing is believing does not apply to nanotechnology for there is nothing even remotely visible to create proof of existence On the atomic and molecular scale data is recorded by sensing and probing in a very abstract manner which requires complex and approximate interpretations More than in any other science visualization and creation of a narrative becomes necessary to describe what is sensed not seen Nevertheless many of the images generated in science and popular culture are not related to data at all but come from visualizations and animations frequently inspired or created directly from science fiction Likewise much of this imagery is based on industrial models and is very mechanistic in nature even though nanotechnology research is at a scale where cogs gears cables levers and assembly lines as functional components appear to be highly unlikely However images of mechanistic nanobots proliferate in venture capital circles popular culture and even in the scientific arena and tend to dominate discourse around the possibilities of nanotechnology The authors put forward that this new science is ultimately about a shift in our perception of reality from a purely visual culture to one based on sensing and connectivity Micromegas a far better observer than his dwarf could clearly see that the atoms were talking to one another he drew the attention of his companion who ashamed at being mistaken in the matter of procreation was now very reluctant to credit such a species with the power to communicate Voltaire 1729 pg 24 Introduction Nanotechnology is more a new science than technology and the industry being constructed around it predictably uses old ideas and imagery During its current rise to prominence a strange propagandist nanometer has emerged in our midst without being clearly realized by any of

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