In both the philosophical and visual sense, ‘seeing is believing’ does not apply to nanotechnology, for there is nothing even remotely visible to create proof of existence. On the atomic and molecular scale, data is recorded by sensing and probing in a very abstract manner, which requires complex and approximate interpretations. More than in any other science, visualization and creation of a narrative becomes necessary to describe what is sensed, not seen. Nevertheless, many of the images generated in science and popular culture are not related to data at all, but come from visualizations and animations frequently inspired or created directly from science fiction.
From “The Nanomeme Syndrome: Blurring of fact & fiction in the construction of a new science” in Volume 1, Issue 1, of Technoetic Arts, a journal of speculative research, by Jim Gimzewski and Victoria Vesna, some legitimate hardcore nanotechnologists. Gimzewski won the Forsight Insitute’s Feynman Prize in 1997 for leading the team that made that nifty IBM logo written in atoms.