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Mesotechnology describes a budding research field which could replace nanotechnology in the future as the primary means to control matter at length scales ranging from a cluster of atoms to microscopic elements. The prefix meso- comes from the Greek word mesos, meaning middle, hence the technology spans a range of length scales as opposed to nanotechnology which is concerned only with the smallest atomic scales.

describes very well phenomena on the atomic to nanoscale while classical Newtonian Mechanics describes the behavior of objects on the microscale and up. However, the length scale in the middle ( Although the term itself is still quite new, the general concept is not. Many fields of science have traditionally focused either on single discrete elements or large statistical collections where many theories have been successfully applied. In the field of physics for example, Quantum Mechanicsmesoscale) is not well described by either theory. Similarly, psychologists focus heavily on the behavior and mental processes of the individual while sociologists study the behavior of large societal groups, but what happens when only 3 people are interacting, this is the mesoscale.

Nanotechnology has seen a lot of hype during its emergence, but this is common for all new technology. The cycle normally starts with huge exaggeration leading to over expectation, through deep disappointment to the point where actually useful stuff is produced. The funny part is that by then nobody notices anymore, but this doesn?t make the advances any less dramatic.

After some reading, it would appear that the most suitable term for this emerging science is mesotechnology. This covers a much wider range of scale from the more familiar world of millimeters (thousandths of inches if your from the US) down to atomic scales. Surprisingly some of the fiction would seem to be true. Amongst the fields of research one of the most popular is medical science. Yes, they really are trying to develop technology that can spot, prevent or repair damage caused by disease from within your body. It also turns out that nanotechnology is already in everyday use from automotive catalytic convertors to self cleaning windows. As you might expect the military are funding work to develop a batch of weapons, body armour and other goodies, but their tank shells already use highly reactive nano-particles for extra effect.

As with all new materials there are concerns regarding possible harmful effects to the environment due to exposure. This is not ?scare mongering? as some researchers suggest, but neither is it the impending disaster of the environmental lobby. Even a confirmed technophile can see, and has experienced, that a cautious approach is usually the best with any new technology. However, this is definitely an area at which I need to take a much closer look.

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