The number of scientific and technological failures over time greatly outnumbers the number of significant breakthroughs. However, most breakthroughs would not have been discovered if it had not been for the failures that occurred before them and the actions people have had to take as a result of those failures. Past and current nanotechnology research shows great promise in the fields of energy, the environment, health/medicine, and even daily life, as discussed earlier in this paper. Very few scientific phenomena, the most notable being the electricity and light bulb discovery by Ben Franklin, have shown as much promise as nanotechnology and actually pulled through on all accounts. Even though nanotechnology research is meeting resistance, some of which is substantiated and understandable but a lot of which is due to the hype and yellow journalism of our media, the scientific community cannot give in and allow the potential for breakthroughs to be eliminated. A moratorium on nanotechnology research is being pushed for due to the large number of questions regarding nanotechnology that have gone unanswered. The issues posed by these questions are not absurd or unreasonable, as they force the scientific community to think about the line between public safety and public benefit, the unintended consequences of nanotechnology, and if nanotechnology is solving problems that affect a vast majority of people. The most analogous technology to nanotechnology that shows the downsides to banning research is nuclear energy. When the benefits for nuclear power were first discovered, the entire world jumped on the nuclear power bandwagon and nuclear power plants popped up right and left. However, a couple of disasters, namely Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, sparked widespread skepticism about nuclear potential. Since then, international agencies such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have tried to institute bans on nuclear research in Iran and North Korea. The result of these bans has not been a successful curbing of nanotechnology research, but rather increased animosity and violence between the parties involved. We have reached a point where the United Nations says that North Korea must stop all nuclear testing, and North Korea responds by saying that any such ultimatum will most definitely result in more testing. Is such a stalemate desirable? Of course not. But even more importantly, a stalemate like the one we are experiencing in nuclear research can be more dangerous than an actual ban. As Ralph Merkle puts it, a total 100% ban on nanotechnology may successfully curb any negative consequences. However, a 100% ban is not desirable by any party, as no benefits of nanotechnology would be discovered. So, the next logical step to take, supposedly, would be a partial ban, like the one the UN is trying to institute on North Korea and Iran. Merkle points out that a partial ban such as this one will only guarantee that the small percentage of the population not allowed to do nanotechnology research will most definitely be conducting the research. This forces us to ask the question: How effective would a ban on nanotechnology really be? Another important point to note on this topic is that a successful ban on nuclear energy research in its early stages would have not only eliminated disasters such as the Chernobyl explosion, but also discovery and harnessing of nuclear power to provide more than 20% of the electricity used in the United States. Given the significant shortcomings in energy, environment, and health that will be prevalent in the not-so-distant future, one must ask if it really is smart to treat nanotechnology research the same way nuclear research has been treated. As was mentioned in the introduction to this paper, nanotechnology research is still in its infancy. The full benefits and consequences are yet to be discovered, and thus there is no way for us to make a substantiated decision on how to harness the nanotechnology potential until we know what it fully is. Aside from the scientific breakthroughs that have come from years of intensive research, there have been many unintentional ?accidents? that resulted from pure curiosity or research being conducted towards a different goal. These accidents, which range from Newton discovery of gravity after an apple fell on his head to the discovery of Viagra, whose prescribed effects were actually side effects in research being conducted for an antihypertension drug. Due to the large amount of time, money, and research currently being put into nanotechnology research, one can say almost with certainty that this research will yield some unexpected results. They may be beneficial, they may be harmful, or they might just be interesting discoveries. Whatever they are, they will expand and enhance our knowledge of how the world works on a molecular level, an area which is currently for the most part a black box. Banning nanotechnology research will prevent this knowledge base from growing and perhaps prevent any future ?accidents? from occurring.
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