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Still room at the bottom? The conformation of nanoscience and nanotechnology today

Thematic issue of Philosophia Scientiæ 23/1 (February 2019)

Guest editors: Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent; Jonathan Simon

Submission Deadline: 01/12/2017

Acceptance Notification: 01/03/2018

Final version due: 01/05/2018

Still room at the bottom? The conformation of nanoscience and nanotechnology today.

In December 1959, Richard Feynman launched the nano movement with his legendary catchphrase ‘there’s plenty of room at the bottom’. Almost 60 years later, there are many reasons for thinking that the nanosciences are now reaching or have already reached maturity: A large and growing volume of publications in the area, undergraduate and graduate programmes, international conferences, and a wide range of research around different aspects of nanoscience and nanotechnology. In comparison to chemistry, physics and biology, this is, of course, a young field, but we want to take the opportunity of this publication to take stock of what has been achieved and how the domain has evolved over the course of its short history. Thus, in this volume we invite philosophers, as well as sociologists and anthropologists of science and technology to reflect on where the nanosciences have come from, where they are now and the orientation of their development over the decades to come.

One way to think about this question would be to ask whether nanoscience has acceded to the status of a normal science as described by Kuhn, based upon a shared well-defined, consensual paradigm. Given its heterogeneous nature, one might argue that nanoscience cannot or should not pretend to such a status. Another question is to ask whether this heterogeneous or essentially interdisciplinary nature of nanoscience should lead us to expect new configurations of the field, even beyond the numerous ‘convergences’ already predicted in a relatively near future. In other words, is there still plenty of room at the bottom?

Possible themes to be explored:

  • The contours of nanoscience and nanotechnology.

  • The likely evolution of nanoscience and nanotechnology.

  • The promise of NBIC and other convergence.

  • Illuminate the relationship between nanoscience and nanotechnology.

  • The realisation of the industrial applications of nanoscience.

  • The importance of foundational techniques (notably the scanning-tunneling electron microscope) and the orientations they give to research and to theory.

  • The relationship between traditional disciplines and the nano, notably in terms of the many convergence hypotheses (in particular the much-discussed NBIC convergence).

  • The history and function of particular materials – such as nanotubes.

  • The interaction between ethical interrogation around the nanosciences and the sciences themselves. Have ethical reflections had an effect on the area and vice versa?

Manuscripts should be submitted in French, English, or German, and prepared for anonymous peer review.

Abstracts in French and English of 200-300 words in length should be included.

Articles should not exceed 50,000 characters (spaces, list of references and footnotes included).

Please send submissions to:

Guidelines for authors are to be found on the journal’s website: