Jack Uldrich
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The Lesson of the Lilly Pad

Posted in Future, Nanotechnology


I was recently asked by a leading nanotechnology consultant, Rocky Rawstern, if I couldf7a42567f40b8603131b4a684f08b5b5 say anything on the topic of nanotechnology to a wider audience but keep it under 250 words, what would I say? Here was my response:

To those who don’t believe nanotechnology will change the world in the near future just because it hasn’t accomplished much in the last 20 years, consider this little quiz: If a single lilly pad began doubling on a pond on the first day of June and doubled each day thereafter until the entire pond was covered by the end of the month, on Day 20 what percentage of the pond would be covered with lily pads?

The answer is one-tenth of one percent. That’s right, .1%! What happens over the next 10 days is a little short of amazing—the entire pond gets covered. Such is the nature of exponential growth.

Now, advances in nanotechnology aren’t quite experiencing exponential growth but they are close and over the course of the next decade nanotechnology’s impact on material sciences, medicine, and energy are going to be—like the lilly pads’ spread over the pond in the last few days— extraordinary.


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