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It seems that television shows are always two steps ahead of science and scientists when it comes to cutting edge technology, but we have finally caught up to one of the infamous inventions: nanotechnology.Nanotechnology, a word that was popularized in the 1980s when talk first surfaced about building machines, motors and computers on the same scale as molecules.

“Nanotechnology has been around for 20 years in theoretical studies and laboratories,” said Joe Conner, PCC instructor in the natural sciences division.

The American Heritage Science Dictionary defines nanotechnology as the science and technology of devices and materials, such as electronic circuits or drug delivery systems, constructed on extremely small scales, as small as individual atoms and molecules.

Many don’t realize that nanotechnology is not just for those in white lab coats and black rimmed black glasses. One product that may be easy to link to nanotechnology is the iPod Nano by Apple. The iPod Nano uses flash memory chips that are below 100 nanometers, which is comprehensive when comparing its thin design to its larger memory capacity.

Along with the iPod, Forbes made a top 10 list describing products that use or are enhanced with nanotechnology.

Choco’la chewing gum, by O’Lala Foods, combined two things that normally wouldn’t go together, gum and chocolate. Using nanoscale crystals, the gum’s surface is modified to achieve a creamy and chocolaty flavor.

Other products that made the list were: Stink- and artic- proof socks, cholesterol absorbing canola oil and high- concentrate antioxidant facial cream.

“It’s already a trillion dollar industry. It’s just the general public doesn’t know about it,” said Conner.

Consumers and producers aren’t the only ones who are interested in this technology. The government also seeks to be apart of this revolution.

The National Nanotechnology Initiative was created to fund the research and advancement of nanotechnology but they are selective. The institute requires that the technology developed and studied must be in nanometers, which is one-billionth of a meter.

According to nano.gov, in the past seven years investments in the NNI increased, raising the funding to $8.3 billion. Those who work in the field are encouraged to see such strong support from the Bush administration and Congress.

The requested budget for the 2008 NNI is $1.44 billion , 13 percent higher than the request from 2007. Also the 2008 budget request is more than triple the estimated amount (464 million) that was spent in 2001, when the initiative was first created.

So with nanotechnology on the cutting board, some may wonder what other science fiction invention could we get our hands on next?

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