BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

17 September 2014
Accessibility help
Science & Nature: TV & Radio Follow-upScience & Nature
Science & Nature: TV and Radio Follow-up

BBC Homepage

In TV & Radio
follow-up
:


Contact Us

You are here: BBC > Science & Nature > TV & Radio Follow-up > Horizon
Michio Kaku, physicist from City University, New York
BBC Two, Thursday 5 February 2004, 9pm
The Dark Secret of Hendrik Schön
Coming Up
Can it possibly be safe to use a dangerous drug like thalidomide again? BBC Two, 12th February, 9pm.

The Dark Secret of Hendrik Schön - programme summary

Imagine a world where disease could be eradicated by an injection of tiny robots the size of molecules. That is the hope offered by nanotechnology - the science of microscopically small machines. But others fear nanotechnology could lead to a non-biological cancer - where swarms of tiny nanobots come together and literally devour human flesh.

"The amazing thing about Hendrik was that everything he touched seemed to work."

Professor Paul McEeun, Cornell University

Sounds like science fiction? It certainly did until a brilliant young scientist called Hendrik Schön seemed to bring it a step closer.

Schön's great breakthrough was to make a computer transistor out of a single organic molecule. It was an achievement of almost incalculable brilliance. Some speculated this technology could spell the end of the entire silicon chip industry.

Crucially, Schön's transistor was organic. Suddenly, this seemed to be the first step towards true nanotechnology, where minute computers could grow as living cells.

Scientists speculated about how these tiny machines could be used to target diseases with astonishing precision. Others wondered - could the military use them as a new weapon? Others, including Prince Charles, were terrified. If these machines can grow by themselves, how do we stop them from growing?

What happened next would destroy reputations and shatter lives - because there was more to Hendrik Schön's discovery than anyone knew.


 
Back to top of page
Read Q&As
 
 
 


Science Homepage | Nature Homepage
Wildlife Finder | Prehistoric Life | Human Body & Mind | Space
Go to top



About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy