What is Nanotechnology? What does it mean to you?

nanotech1In 1959, physicist Richard Feynman predicted a future in which scientists would, by manipulating atoms and molecules, be able to build materials and structures of higher strength, lighter weight, increased control of the light spectrum, and greater chemical reactivity.
Everything of a physical nature – human beings, plants, minerals, air – is composed of combinations of atoms and molecules bound together either by shape or electronic charge. Manipulating atoms on a nano-scale would theoretically allow humans to reproduce everything from diamonds to food.
While the benefits of such technology are virtually countless, it has created considerable concern among some that molecular manipulation may unwittingly bring more problems than solutions – up to, and including, human extinction. Organizations such as Friends of the Earth of Australia, Individuals Tending Toward Savagery in Mexico, and the Organic Consumers Association in America actively oppose any further development of nano-scale projects.

What Is “Scale” and Why Is It Important?

Nanotechnology is the science that deals with the manipulation of matter on an atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale – in other words, much smaller than what the naked eye can see. Each nanometer is one billionth of a meter – approximately the length a fingernail grows in one second. To put that in perspective, a human hair is roughly 80,000 to 100,000 nanometers wide, a red blood cell is 2,500 nanometers, and a strand of human DNA is 2.5 nanometers in diameter.
It is only through the development of extraordinary precision instruments, such as the scanning tunneling microscope and the atomic force microscope, that nanotechnology has become possible. Its promise and risk arise from our growing understanding of quantum physics, which deals with ultra-small objects. Surprisingly, the behavior of substances on a nanoscale is often contrary to its properties on a larger scale.
For example, substances in bulk form that can’t carry an electric charge – insulators – may become semiconductors on a nano level, just as melting points and other physical properties may change. An aluminum Coke can ground down into a powder of 20 to 30 nanometers may spontaneously ignite in air – a property that makes it a rocket fuel catalyst. Similarly, both a diamond and the graphite in a pencil are made from carbon, but they have vastly different properties due to the way the carbon atoms bond.
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12 Ways to Volunteer Your Time and Give Back to the Community

volunteer-hospitalDo you feel a personal responsibility to help others? Randy Lewis, author of “No Greatness Without Goodness,” claims that all people, including businesses, have the responsibility to make the world a better place. In his case, he spearheaded a Walgreens initiative to hire the disabled. In the five years following his initiative, similar programs were sparked across America and Europe.
In June 2014, Starbucks, the ubiquitous coffee cafe, announced a free online college program through Arizona State University for any employee working 20 or more hours per week. Duncan Campbell, an Oregon entrepreneur, started Friends of the Children to provide emotional and educational support to at-risk children, starting with kids in kindergarten and progressing with them through college. Of the kids involved, 83% graduate high school and 93% avoid juvenile hall for breaking the law.
While some leaders and companies receive considerable publicity and well-deserved accolades for charitable work, there are hundreds of thousands of regular Americans – your friends and neighbors – who donate to programs to make the world a “kinder and gentler place.” These activities are sponsored by churches, civic organizations, schools, and charities, with services ranging from Habitat for Humanity to Big Brothers Big Sisters. But despite the ongoing success of such efforts, programs always need volunteers and financial support.

Why Volunteer?

Some people claim that their personal success and secure position has been justly earned without help from others along the way. However, this attitude is selfish, egotistical, and naive. Studies, detailed in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Outliers,” have shown that the zip code of your birth is more predictive of success, health, and lifespan than IQ, college grades, or genetics. Nobody makes it through life entirely on his or her own merits, even if assistance is not obvious. As a consequence, everyone has a debt to repay – and a reason to give back.
In addition to fulfilling a responsibility, there are many benefits of charitable giving – primarily, it makes you happier. In fact, a Harvard Business School study confirmed that “happier people give more and giving makes people happier, such that happiness and giving may operate in a positive feedback loop (with happier people giving more, getting happier, and giving even more).”
While cash is always accepted in groups serving the needy, time and effort is just as important, if not more so. Plus, giving of your time, energy, and effort provides you with immediate feedback as to what your contribution means to those receiving it.
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3 Benefits of Downsizing Your Life and Living Lean

live-lean1Americans born after World War II have grown up in a culture that seems to promise them everything. The greatest economy in history was built, in part, by creating an insatiable demand for “more.” Unfortunately, however, its consequences can be measured in part by an unmanageable national debt, the approaching scarcity of many natural resources, increasing class conflict, and the high degree of stress and unhappiness of society at large.
Many retirees, as well as those who hope to retire within the next decade, are discovering that their resources may not be able to provide the lifestyle they’d anticipated. For some, there is little alternative except to severely cut back expenditures and lower expectations. For those who have not yet reached those years, there is another option: living lean.

The Lure of Possessions and Immediate Gratification

Younger Americans often find themselves at a crossroads in life: They must choose whether to maximize their immediate pleasures, or balance them with their future needs. Unfortunately, too many opt for the former. They often do so because they believe the following.

1. You’re Only Young Once

If you don’t grab all you can now – big homes, expensive cars, extravagant vacations – you may not have another chance. However, what folks with this mindset don’t realize is that adventure, excitement, passion, and satisfaction are not exclusive to a particular age, or even income.
Former President George H.W. Bush recently celebrated his 90th birthday by skydiving, a feat he has performed every five years since turning 65. Boone Pickens, at age 86, is leading a national campaign to replace petroleum with natural gas and wind energy. Mick Jagger is still touring with the Rolling Stones. Grandmothers and grandfathers fill golf courses, ski slopes, and universities learning new skills and pursuing dreams.
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The truth is, there is no single age or stage of life that is better than another. And being young is not an excuse for irresponsibility.

Is Dental Insurance Worth It?

teeth and dollarsParents spend thousands of dollars on orthodontics to ensure their children have what’s arguably the clearest physical indication of prosperity: a straight, white smile. George Washington was certainly prosperous, but he also endured the agony of poorly fitted wooden dentures for much of his life. And James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, claimed that if a man had his hair and teeth, he had it all.
It’s not surprising then that an entire industry is devoted to keeping our teeth healthy, clean, and attractive. Aside from a big boost in self-confidence, the condition of your teeth plays a major role in your overall health. As with many things, many people are willing to pay for those benefits. But is purchasing dental insurance the best way to go about doing it?

Problems With Adult Teeth

Fortunately, many dental problems can be avoided or delayed with proper attention, such as every mother’s admonition to floss. However, even with regular care, some dental problems do naturally arise with age:

1. Dental Decay. Cavities can deteriorate into root canals and crowns when left untreated.
2. Gum Disease. Plaque causes gums to recede, potentially exposing them to disease. Poor dental hygiene can exacerbate the problem.
3. Accidents. Teeth can be broken or cracked as a result of being hit or simply biting down on an olive pit or cherry stone. This can require removal of the injured teeth in favor of bridges or implants. In extreme cases, dentures may be required.
4.Oral Cancer. Smoking not only stains teeth, it increases your risk of cancer. Gum disease can also trigger oral cancer, along with other health problems.
In addition to good dental hygiene, regular checkups and cleanings are always necessary – and, unfortunately, these cost money. But beyond the pestering costs of basic maintenance lurk far more significant dental operations which have the potential to devastate your personal finances.
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