As last week drew to a close, even SpaceX’s biggest fanboys were left cringing at some of overlord Elon Musk’s problematic opinions on the media and bitchy comments towards individual journalists. Mega-rich entrepreneurs venting about bad publicity and "fake news" via Twitter is a commonplace occurrence nowadays. However, Musk made one fatal error in his recent tweet tirade against journalists: he pissed off nanotech scientists.
On Thursday, Musk tweeted that he wants to create a media credibility rating website that names and shames unreliable outlets, which he would call Pravda after the former official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (presumably/hopefully as some kind of a joke).
Australian molecular biologist and nanotechnologist Upulie Divisekera replied, “with all due respect, this is pathetic.”
To which Musk responded, “Ahem, you have 'nano' in your bio. That is 100 percent synonymous with bs.”
And so, a Twitter feud was born. A gaggle of scientists jumped to the aid of Divisekera and began to defend nanotechnology. At first, people were pretty confused about what Musk even meant by the statement, but he clarified by saying; “Nano applies to everything & therefore means nothing. Definitely indicates bs. Sorry” along with a link to Uncyclopedia that reads “Nanotechnology is a form of bullshit used by advertisement firms to either make people believe their hair/skin products are magical, or to make investors give funding on the impressions a product will contain magical robots.”
Granted, nanotechnology does sound like one of those buzzwords added to a shampoo commercial, but that’s no reason to dispel a whole field of study. A bunch of scientists from a range of fields began to explain what exactly nanotechnology means, why it is not simply “BS”, and why its applications are more important than ever.
Some also pointed out how Musk’s own business projects rely on technology that can be considered “nano”.
After this little storm in a teacup was subdued, Musk then tweeted: “Nanotech is so 2008. Picotech is 1000 times better… But femtotech is the future … https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Femtotechnology."
This gave the impression that Musk was maybe just trolling people or perhaps backtracking by pretending it was all just a funny joke. It's very difficult to tell these days, but at least we got a free lesson on nanotechnology.