The titular quotation is said by Zoe to Wash in “Firefly”, when he says that “telepathy is science-fiction”.
It always touched me deeply, because it says something important about presentism — it’s not merely about treating the past in terms of the present, but also the future. Like we never consider ourselves old (old is only someone who is older than ourselves), we never consider ourselves living in the future. So let’s look around and appreciate the science-fiction around us.
Today, I will note a particular part of science-fiction, nanotechnology. Remember all these cool microscopic robots, invisibly fixing things? Well, if you go to Wikipedia to see what the definition is, you will find:
Nanotechnology refers to a field of applied science and technology whose theme is the control of matter on the atomic and molecular scale, generally 100 nanometers or smaller, and the fabrication of devices or materials that lie within that size range.
100 nanometers? My work’s laptop was bought a couple of years ago. It probably has chips which are based on 90nm or possibly even 65nm technology. Surely, that would be nanotechnology?
Nanoelectronics refer to the use of nanotechnology on electronic components, especially transistors. Although the term nanotechnology is generally defined as utilizing technology less than 100nm in size, nanoelectronics often refer to transistor devices that are so small that inter-atomic interactions and quantum mechanical properties need to be studied extensively. As a result, present transistors (such as CMOS90 from TSMC or Pentium 4 Processors from Intel) do not fall under this category, even though these devices are manufactured under 90nm or 65nm technology.
Yes, you are reading what I’m reading. The nanotechnologic future has been defined away into the future, possibly because, although we’re living in the metaphorical spaceship, nanotechnology should remain science fiction. To reiterate: without that ludicrous differentiation, you would have nanotechnology on the computer you are reading this post on…
If this is interesting to you, I highly recommend the series on making the technology in chips progressively smaller. It seems there are already plans and timelines to go as small as 11nm.