A finer tool to tend the garden

The new Cambridge Professor of Physics, Russell Cowburn, gave a seminar at the Faraday Institute last month. The advantage in waiting a while before publishing this post is that the mp3 and video are now online, so you can watch/listen for yourself.

Cowburn’s work is in the area of nanotechnology (thin film magnetism, to be precise). In his seminar he gave a fascinating introduction to the world of nanotechnology research, it’s practical applications, and (realistic) safety concerns. It was the first time that I have actually heard someone explain the techniques of nanotechnology clearly, and it’s an incredibly elegant science.

The most interesting part for me was his assessment of the field from a faith point of view. His argument was that nanotechnology is neither hugely dangerous, nor a whole new science that will change the science and religion dialogue completely. From his perspective, nanotech is simply an extremely useful tool for humankind – ‘ a finer tool to tend the garden with’. I left the seminar feeling a little jealous of bench scientists…

One thought on “A finer tool to tend the garden

  1. Richard Hosking December 6, 2010 / 12:23 am

    Thanks for linking the fascinating nanotech presentation – looks to have a huge range of applications.

    Was interested to hear Prof Cowburn describe Richard Feynman as the ‘father’ of nanotechnology. Sir Harry Kroto, the co-discoverer of carbon-60, was also a Nobel laureate with Jewish antecedents – his dad escaped Nazi Germany in 1937.

    In 2007, Israeli scientists used a focused beam of gallium ions to etch the entire Hebrew Bible onto a gold-coated silicon chip the size of a sugar grain! The Pope was presented with an edition of the world’s smallest Old Testament during his visit to Israel in 2009, while the Israeli Museum requested another copy to sit next to the world’s oldest edition – the Dead Sea Scrolls.



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