Nano Wish List

At the emotional, nostalgic, hopeful turn of the new year, with my mother in the hospital on Christmas Eve and my 49th birthday following six days later, I had a brilliant idea:  to complete a sprint triathlon before my 50th birthday.

Having finished 8 weeks of training, having learned about nanotechnology from Matthew Hull of NanoSafe, Inc., a Member Company of VT KnowledgeWorks, and having learned that nano as a prefix means "one billionth," which I translate as really, really small, I have devised a Nano Wish List for triathlon-related fitness gear. 

For the swim:

Nano-Level Adjusting Swim Goggles

What’s the deal on swim goggles?  Some days they keep the water out of my eyes, some days I thrash mid-lane at the Blacksburg Aquatic Center, much to the annoyance of the real swimmers, to rip the goggles from my face and knuckle my stinging eyes. It’s the same pair of goggles.

Nano-Level Adjusting Swim Goggles would sense the apparent daily ten to the negative ninth fluctuation in the puffiness or non-puffiness of the sagging flesh around my eyes.  The goggles would magically and nano-ly alter their little plastic sides to protect my near-sightedness from high levels of chlorine (for which, in-this-day-and-age-and-things-weren’t-like-this-when-I-was-a-kid, I am extremely grateful).

For the bike:

Nano-Powered Helmet-Resistant Hairspray
I’m all about green but I’m not into flat hair.  I’ll dutifully ride my bike from Kroger’s all the way down Glade Road (a.k.a. Mt. Everest) to Whitethorne and back (a "so-so" 20-mile ride according to local cyclists.  Can I just say sometimes cyclists can be smug?), but when I take my helmet off, my hair better spring back to the carefully coiffed style I gave it that morning.  If Nano-Powered Helmet-Resistant Hairspray is lifting my locks, okay.  Otherwise, I’m not going.

For the run:

Nano Fitness Fabric
Modern "wicking" fabric?  "Wick away moisture"?  Ha!  I define "wicking fabric" as "that which increases one’s current temperature state."  If I’m cold and am wearing wicking fabric, I get colder.  If I’m running my very first 5K, sponsored by
RunAbout Sports, in a cute pink wicking tank top, even if I’m almost last, which I am, I feel as roasted as a turkey cooking in a Reynolds oven bag.

Working on the nano level, Nano Fitness Fabric–also coming in a flattering pink–would adjust its porosity so that when I run my next 5K, instead of dragging in like a basted Thanksgiving bird, I will trot in with a sheen like a New River Valley morning mist.

And for all three triathlon sports:

Nano Sports Beverage
Instead of having to worry about carrying a sports beverage bottle–or about how to address the natural results of drinking sports beverages–a single drop on the tongue of Nano Sports Beverage would hydrate the entire body for 2 hours and 15 minutes.  (That’s the usual cut-off time for a sprint triathlon.  I’m hoping I can finish by then.)

These ideas may seem brilliant, but that’s probably not the reason nanotechnologists may already be hard at work on them.  Fitness gear sells.  I’ve bought equipment for three, count ’em, three sports.

I’ve got a hybrid bike.  Maybe if I got a new bike, a road bike, I could go faster on Glade Road.  Maybe if it had some nanotechnology… 

[Added 3/5/08:  From The Roanoke Times, 3/4/08:  Future of cellphones may belong to nanotechnology]


  1. I, as others whom I have observed who may be preparing for a triathlon, may need a nano belt to hide the difference between energy intake and loss. If the surface hexagons of a buckyball are well arranged tetrahedrons, what is the interior arrangement of all such interior forms and their spaces? I've heard that energy from human movement and pressure (the shoe in walking) can now be effectively captured and stored. Perhaps your thoughts go past the singular energy-intensive event to new clothing (a specialized uniform) that is nano-technology enhanced (quantum dots).

    Stephen Wolfram (2002. A New Kind of Science, Wolfram Media, Inc., Champaign, Il. 1197pp.) showed that many systems have very simple structures and can perform very sophisticated tasks. Some of these systems may be suitable for directly implementing them on an atomic scale (page 15). I'd demonstrate the power of nano-gloves for swimmers at the first possible triathlon. If shoes are ok for running and gloves ok for biking, then webbed gloves ought to be ok for swimming (even if flippers are banned). It's a modern kind of sporting thing to create, like compound bows are for archery and telescopes are for muzzle-loaded rifles.

    I want a light weight, transportable, plastic sunlight-collecting disc that is imbedded with nanoparticles that enhance light excitations and can be used daily for cooking and warmth by my friends in India and Africa … and in Appalachia. I'll use one to light the signs to the triathlon.

  2. Anne Clelland says:

    That's my dad. As I read his comment, I laughed, I cried, I shook my head, I remembered, and I envisioned him with a nanoparticle disc over his head lighting the way my whole life.

  3. Alex Edelman says:

    Here's another, and this one's actually been developed: A windshield coating that makes wipers obsolete.

  4. Anne Clelland says:

    When I asked the above commenter for more information, he sent this link:

    It's translated by Google from Italian, but here's a line from the article:
    "A prototype baptized Hidra that thanks to the use of nanotechnology in a special aerodynamic study can keep clean the windscreen, while not having any brush."

    Thanks for the info.!

  5. Ben Lepene says:

    Keeping with the triathlon theme.. I would wish for a Nano Knee. This self-healing Nano Knee would incorporate non-toxic nanoparticles capable of sensing and repairing tissue damage. Since we're dreaming a little bit, I'd also incorporate some performance enhancing features. That way I'd be able to stay in the same time zone as my wife the next time we go for a ride in the mountains.

  6. Anne Clelland says:

    That's a great idea! And beautifully expressed. Maybe the Nano Knee product line could include Nano Heel. How 'bout that plantar fasciitis?

    As for outperforming spouses, nine months ago, I married a sprint triathlete ranked nationally in the top 15% in his age group. I know nano is small, but I can't imagine the transformation I would have to undergo to compete. I wave and cheer a lot!

  7. Anne Clelland says:
  8. Anne Clelland says:

    Not nano, but cool: a turn signal jacket for cyclists

  9. Inspired by your message about a local entrepreneur dealing with nanotechnology, I visited a lecture by Dr. Mike Hochella of Va Tech on "Nanoscience, Nanotechnology, and the "Environmernt." He was convincing that aspects of the Earth run on nano composites, dendrimeters (now I have something else for my curiosity), metal-based and carbon-based materials. He described several uses and applications for these things existing at a spatial scale that is as related as the size of a light bulb is to the size of Earth.

    I imagine a world of scientists will think our 2008 nano-thought is primitive (like about former intellectuals who lived in a world without microscopes) but I'm having a hard time now imagining the things in nature for which to look, the hypotheses to be formed. I struggle, but based on a little reading and the lecture, I'll bet that animals' ability to "smell" food or sex phermones is catalyzed by these nano things. That, if true, explains their ability to catalyze and sense molecule-size amounts on their antennae and black-colored noses. If so, that might open the door to baiting, repelling, and confusion-strategies for reducing hrmful effects of insects and other faunal forms.

    I'm glad for the studies being conducted before they are mandated by perceived problems within people and the environment.

    With other authors, Dr. Hochella has a synthetic article coming out in Science in a few weeks. I'll learn more then.

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