Nothing grows or lasts forever. Businesses, chemical reactions, phase transformations, new technologies, and, it is proposed, technical disciplines seem to exhibit a sigmoidal behavior in which they take time to appear (to ‘nucleate’); then grow, first at an increasing rate but before long increasingly slowly; until they flatten out. But is this saturation or exhaustion, if not death and demise, of a new technology or discipline inevitable? Chemical engineering, biomedical engineering and biotechnology, and nanotechnology are given as examples of what has happened, is happening, and might happen – if we are not careful!

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(04)00125-7