Saturday, April 26, 2003

Nano Weapons of Mass Destruction?

Disarmament Diplomacy advocates an Inner Space Treaty.
The incentive for an adversary to pursue the military application of atomic engineering - either on a battlefield or on a massively destructive scale - may, ironically, be increased by the evident enthusiasm of the US military for the new possibilities. As with other advanced technologies, the defensive and offensive utility of nanotechnology is hard to distinguish; from an adversary's point of view, it may even be dangerous to try. Here, for instance, is a recent news story on 'nanoarmour' for US troops:

"The Massachusetts Institute of Technology plans to create military uniforms that can block out biological weapons and even heal their wearers as part of a five-year contract to develop nanotechnology applications for soldiers, the US Army announced... MIT won the $50 million contract to create an Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, or ISN. The ISN will be staffed by around 150 people, including 35 MIT professors... The unique lightweight materials that can be composed using nanotechnology will possess revolutionary qualities that MIT says will help it make a molecular 'exoskeleton' for soldiers. The ISN plans to research ideas for a soft - and almost invisible - clothing that can solidify into a medical cast when a soldier is injured or a 'forearm karate glove' for combat, MIT said. Researchers also hope to develop a kind of molecular chain mail that can deflect bullets. In addition to protecting soldiers, these radically different materials will have uses in offensive tactics, at least psychologically. 'Imagine the psychological impact upon a foe when encountering squads of seemingly invincible warriors protected by armour and endowed with superhuman capabilities, such as the ability to leap over 20-foot walls,' ISN director Ned Thomas said in a release."

Amazing. I'm not prepared to comment on this yet. Stay tuned.