Nano dreams and nightmares: emerging technoscience and the framing and (re)interpreting of the future, present and past

Stephen McGrail

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Imagined nanotechnology futures are polarised between utopian dreams and apocalyptic nightmares. This paper provides an introduction to nanotechnology, a highly complex research and policy realm, and the contesting of "nano-futures". How the future and past are mobilised during the development of emerging technologies is of particular interest. Drawing on work in the field of Science and Technology Studies, which distinguishes between 'looking into' and 'looking at' the future, nanotechnology's intensely future-oriented dynamic is assessed. These dynamics have implications for the understanding of change processes and images of the future, as well as for constructive engagement with "nanotechnology".

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-48
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Futures Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 23 Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Converging technologies
  • Images of the future
  • Imaginaries
  • Nanoscience
  • Nanotechnology
  • Sociology of expectations

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