Stuff I Wrote Elsewhere

Dustin Hoffman in the graduate

In which I get references to The Graduate, Richard Feynman and Rumpelstiltskin into the same story.

Nanotechnology enthusiasts love to cite a classic exchange from the 1967 film “The Graduate.”

Mr. McGuire, an older businessman, is trying to explain the future to a young Benjamin Braddock. “I want to say one word to you. Just one word,” McGuire says. “Plastics.”

McGuire turned out to be right. Plastics are now ubiquitous. Nanotechnology enthusiasts think their vision— of disruptive, world-changing technologies made possible by manipulating matter at the tiniest of scales— will be much the same.

But the joke’s subtext also applies. “Plastics” was a 1960s buzzword, a bandwagon everyone wanted to jump on. Make “nano” your one word and you get the idea.