Revolutionary changes in how people live and work are expected to come from a tiny technology.
Lakes area residents will have an opportunity to hear Thursday about the changes nanotechnology may bring in health care, manufacturing, travel and communication, among others.
Central Lakes College in Brainerd will host "The Next Big Thing is Really Small: How Nanotechnology Will Change the Future of Your Business."
Jack Uldrich, president of The NanoVeritas Group, will present the session. Uldrich, who lives in the Twin Cities, is a frequent speaker about nanotechnology. He previously served as director of the Minnesota Office of Strategic and Long Range Planning in Gov. Jesse Ventura's administration. Uldrich is a former naval intelligence officer and served as a policy analyst in the Pentagon.
If you go
When: 8-9:30 a.m. presentation with coffee and registration at 7:30 a.m. Thursday.
Where: Central Lakes Colleges Chalberg Theatre in Brainerd.
Registration: Call Jan at CLC at 855-8142.
At its most basic definition nanotechnology is the manipulation of matter at the atomic and molecular level to create better and new materials, devices and systems. Nanotechnology is about size and thinking small. Nano is from the Greek word "nanos," meaning dwarf. The width of a human hair is about 80,000 nanometers.
"From my perspective nanotechnology is really going to be the next industrial revolution," Uldrich said in an interview.
The National Nanotechnology Initiative, part of the federal government, reported the United States increased spending on nanotechnology research and development from $116 million in 1997 to a request of $849 million in 2004. The government reports private industry is investing at least as much money.
Uldrich said nanotechnology has a toe-hold in almost every industry.
"It's going to be a huge portion of this country's economic future," he said.
The National Science Foundation estimated 2 million workers will be needed to support nanotechnology industries worldwide within 15 years. For every scientist, Uldrich said there will be four or five workers with an associate's degree. He said the field, with salary ranges of $30,000 to $56,000, should be of interest to school children today. There are implications for learning institutions as those children will need a broad-based knowledge of math and the basic sciences -- physics, chemistry and biology.
In manufacturing, Uldrich said plastics made of nanoparticles are lighter, stronger and heat resistant, meaning plastics can be conductive and used to make computer chips. Nanotechnology has implications in health care and pharmaceuticals. Medical devices created 100 times smaller than a cancer cell can identify those cells and then kill them, Uldrich said.
He said health care projections call for an increase in life expectancy to 100 and even 110 with better quality of life. And it's not in the far distance. Uldrich expects those medical advances to benefit people in middle age and older today.
"We will see some radical changes," Uldrich said. "They sound like they are out of science fiction, but they are coming much faster than people expect."
Uldrich said if early 1900 predictions called for millions of farmers to be out of business in the future, jaws would have dropped in disbelief.
"We've seen radical change, and now because of nanotechnology we'll see a comparable amount of change in the next 20 years."
RENEE RICHARDSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.
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