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Nano dummies

Sometimes you have to dumb down to get smart. Wiley Publishing has applied that marketing philosophy to hundreds of For Dummies books on subjects ranging from pilates to poker, Buddhism to eBay, forensics to Las Vegas. A new edition takes on a hyperbole-prone topic that often defies easy categorization—nanotechnology.

Authored by Rich Booker (a grad student at Rice University’s nano research center), and Earl Boysen (a veteran of the chip wars), Nanotechnology for Dummies stays true to the easy-to-read, graphics-rich format of its sibling publications. The few-dozen times that the going gets too dense for the uninitiated reader, a little Waldo-esque character pops up in the margin, his index finger pointed skyward, with the words “Technical Stuff” wrapped around the icon.

The 360-plus-page primer features six parts with a total of 16 chapters, plus glossary and index. The section topics represent most of the nano food groups: materials, electronics and photonics, energy, and biomedical. Another part focused on investment possibilities is targeted at the nano venture capitalist in all of us.

The final section features biographies of movers and shakers, as well as listings of nanotech Internet and print resources. Among the brief bios is what turns out to be a timely eulogy for one of the true nano pioneers (and a professor of the lead author), Nobel laureate Richard Smalley, who passed away October 28 after a long struggle with cancer.

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