Years ago, I read K. Erik Drexler’s book Engines of Creation: The coming age of nanotechnology. Aside from the cold war paranoia in the book (and there was a lot of it), there was a lot of very intelligent talk about nanotechnology and what it could accomplish.
Lately, I’ve been seeing a few science fiction writers (Tony Ballentine especially) taking on this idea and examining just how effective those little things could be. First, though, let me give a quick overview of nanotech, from my admittedly limited understanding:
Nanotechnology is the technology of very small things. It’s the idea of a machine so small that it could actually manipulate atoms. It would reproduce by changing the material it was attached to into copies of itself, and would then follow the program to build the new thing. That’s a very non-scientific explanation, but it’s the best I could do on short notice, and I think it will satisfy for our purposes.