Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Moth Wing Nanos?

Just a sudden, intense, very vivid flash of memory:

When I was in my late 20's, my father and I were discussing huge scientific topics, if I recall, it was something along the lines of how long to spit-roast a pig in the hot 43C (100F) summer of Wittenoom, Western Australia.  It included discussions of the effects of various bastings and a possible cure or marinade in plastic wrap for a day beforehand, and progressed via the (then still fairly new) concept of radio wave cooking (which became the familiar microwave of today) then meandered off into discussions of science and technology.  We rambled a lot over a few beers, did Dad and I...

In the middle of that conversation, I killed a moth that was threatening to slurp up precious beer, and there was a cloud of dust from the wings of the moth, and dad got animated and mentioned that the dust off moth wings was harmful to inhale.  He'd seen research that had established that moth wing dust was composed of - and I don't for the life of me remember if he actually said "nanoparticles" or just "microscopic particles" but it was pretty much the first time I'd actually thought about the properties of materials on a nano scale.

I incorporated a particular nanoparticle, a "monomolecule knife," into one of my unpublished Cycle novellas, on the back of thinking about nanoparticles for the next five years.  And I've seen that science researchers have developed particular carbon nanotube structures based on examples from the animal kingdom, and now there's been advances in adhesive based on the micro hairs on the feet of the gecko.  Other researchers have made significantly large single molecules which reminded me of the mono knife in my novella.

But so far I haven't heard about any nanotech researchers studying the fuzz on moth wings for an inspiration...

Just wondering - I tend to think of these things just around the same time as other people do, and often see my brainfarts made concrete by the magic of parallel development...

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