California Science & Technology News

Nano World on a Big Scale: ‘Too Small to See’ Exhibit Opens at Epcot’s

Thanks to nanotechnology there are new ways to fight cancer, lighter and stronger materials for consumer and commercial use, and it is making energy more efficient.

This tiny, miraculous world is now larger than life at the Cornell-developed, arcade-like exhibit “Too Small to See,” newly opened at Innoventions in Epcot at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The exhibit will remain there until May 12, 2007.

Simply, visitors won’t see nanotechnology, they will be part of it: They can walk through a silicon crystal, build a molecule and climb a carbon nanotube or two. “Too Small to See,” which took more than two years to create, is a collaboration between Cornell University, the Sciencenter in Ithaca and Painted Universe in Lansing, N.Y.

The National Science Foundation funded the exhibit and it will be located in the Innoventions West building, where Epcot guests learn about science and technology. “It's important for the public to gain a better understanding of nanotechnology because of its potential impact on our lives” says David Ucko, head of informal science education at the National Science Foundation.

To make this exhibit, researchers spoke with thousands of children and adults to understand how they view nanotechnology. “The concepts in ‘Too Small to See’ are all based upon what visitors might already know about things on the nano scale,” said Carl Batt, the Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor of Food Science at Cornell, who directed the project. “Important recent discoveries in areas like carbon nanotubes and quantum dots become more approachable. Everything returns to applications, where visitors can learn about why nanotechnology will be important in areas such as medicine, energy and information technology.”

This is the second collaboration between Cornell, the Sciencenter and Painted Universe to land at Epcot. In 2004, “It’s a Nano World” was an exhibit at the Innoventions East building, and it is now on its third year of a national tour.