Nanotechnology is a little known science that deals with building things out of atoms and molecules. The idea first came about in 1959, when Richard Feynman, a physicist, stated in a lecture that: "The principles of physics, as far as I can see, do not speak against the possibility of maneuvering things atom by atom." Feynman went on to win the 1965 Nobel Prize in physics.
The word nanotechnology was most likely said by Eric Drexler, in the early 1980's, in his book, Engines of Creation, in which he outlines the ideas and concepts of nanotechnology. The word means, literally, very small technology. It is nearly impossible to compare the magnitude of this to any other technology, because it would mean that we would have complete control over matter. We would have the ability to create anything that we could define.
Although at the moment we are far away from achieving the total utopia that nanotechnology would bring, we are close to seeing the first practical applications of this field.
One of the leading figures in this field, Ralph Merkle, a researcher at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center, feels that within the next 20 years, with the right funding and influence, nanotechnology could be making it's first public appearances. Merkle stated that today's manufacturing abilities are like trying to put LEGO blocks together wearing boxing gloves; things can be done, but without a great deal of precision. Merkle feels that nanotechnology will allow us to drop the gloves. Merkle believes that nanotechnology can be "the cornerstone of future technology.
One of the most important aspects of nanotechnology is that it will change everything. Nothing we do will be the same, when nanotechnology comes into place. We could change our form, our minds, and the world we live in.