Debunking the Nanobot (Quinn Spadola, PhD)

Links mentioned in this talk have been added to the presentation and are listed below:

Self-replicating, sentient, consuming, or creating, nanobots are a popular tool in science fiction to explain fantastical abilities or threats worse than death. But what is the reality? What is a nanobot? What might they be able to do? Scientists and engineers can’t even agree on a definition for a nanobot–does the entire robot need to fit at the nanoscale or does it just have nanoscale components? Does that make your smart phone a nanobot? Artistic renditions of nanobots feed into ideas of spidery machines patrolling (or, perhaps, controlling) our bodies. Some scientists envision nanobots safeguarding our environment, removing pollutants, and monitoring exposure. Others are trying to harness nature’s nanobots and use viruses to do our bidding. The hype around nanobots and the natural inclination to assign them agency can lead to outlandish ideas about what nanotechnology will be capable of delivering, but does it hurt to dream of manufactured nanobots?

Quinn Spadola is a biophysicist who discovered her love of science education and outreach while completing her PhD. After receiving her doctorate, Dr. Spadola entered the Science and Natural History Filmmaking program at Montana State University. She was an AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow in the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office from 2014 to 2016 and joined the contract staff in September 2016. There she works to build community around the National Nanotechnology Initiative, create engaging nanotechnology-themed content, and share the awesomeness of nanotechnology.

Views expressed in this video are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.

Links mentioned in this talk:

Do You Know What Nano Means? By E*D Films

Invisibility –

Hierarchical design of architectected materials – lowest density structure ever made – maybe

Artificial muscle –


Nanosponges soak up oil again and again

Chlorination-less, Abelardo Colon and Jennifer Gill, University of Puerto Rico

CNN: Will Nanotechnology Allow You to “Swallow the Doctor?”

Universal flu vaccine –

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Comment (20)

  1. No comments? Nothing? Since November 2016. This makes me sad. Almost as sad as I was around 6:00 when I saw the equally tiny audience present at the actual talk. What I will say next is not meant to diminish the value of any of the participants already there based on age or other outward characteristics, and I would hate to be seen as judgmental, but why are there not more young people interested in this topic? It is a good presentation by an effective and qualified speaker. The topic is serious, interesting, and relevant in medicine and technology.

  2. poor woman, what a small crowd, she gives an entire speech, and she gets these daft questions "whats NANO?" did she sleep through the whole speech!?

  3. A cool technology for sure. If we lived in a different world, there would be so many great applications for this. Given how society is it will most likely be used for warfare, population control, and to harvest wealth from the general population. Terrifying.

  4. th imagine in case of a cataclysm how will u quicksave hoarded scientific progress, you'll have just a deluge of obscure abbreviations like 'ankh' or 'yahweh' or 'el' etc…

  5. Good talk. Needs more views. Too bad so many ignorant useless comments! Its like the internet audience is just kids raised on superhero comix.

  6. She's awfully optimistic. (Like a chearleader). Personally, I'm a bit more skeptical. What's the point of a (nano)tattoo if no one can see it and you can't show it off? (Wow! It's a tattoo that's not a tattoo!) I'd be more interested in a gate that is not a gate. I already have a boat that is not a boat.(it works well with a pair o' docks).

  7. ur saying stuff nobody invented n they should be called microbots, this started from star trek when they had the borg, basically a human cell made of metal which humans can only create from there imagination!!

  8. How about you all go perform your own expériment on a covid swap! Break it open by tearing a part! Look for a string full of moving live shinning litlle nano bots! Then compare with a regular cotton swab! Then publish the truth of all your findings!


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