Online Dialogue About Nanotechnology

While I'm passing on announcements from my email, there's an online event scheduled for Tuesda and Wednesday about nanotechnology and the consumer:

Nanotechnology--the ability to measure, see, manipulate and manufacture things between 1 and 100 nanometers (1 billionth of a meter)--is seen as the driver of a new industrial revolution emerging with the development of materials that exhibit new properties and potential new risks and benefits at this tiny scale. However, according to recent polls, the majority of Americans have heard little or nothing about nanotechnology, even as consumer products containing nanomaterials are entering the marketplace at a rapid pace. There are already over 500 nanotechnology consumer products available to the consumer, with nanoscale materials now in use in cosmetics, clothing, sports equipment, electronics, automobiles, and home furnishings.

We decided to launch this dialogue in order to provide an easily accessible venue for the public to discuss information and share their thoughts about the usage and potential benefits and risks of consumer products made with nanomaterials. It is aimed at exploring key issues surrounding the ways that consumers, citizens, students, researchers, policymakers, scientific experts, and the media learn about and respond to nanotechnology consumer products. Participants in the dialogue will have the opportunity to ask questions of expert panelists about nanotechnology, to examine its use in consumer products, to discuss who is responsible for oversight, and to brainstorm with each other on needed future actions.

Here's your chance to ask an expert nanotechnician how your stain-resistant Dockers are going to turn the whole world into grey goo.


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What regulations exist or are pending in various countries on medical effects of Nanotechnology?

What cool new Science Fiction is there on the subject, in the last 2 years, say (yes, we know about Blood Music and stuff in following decades). I love Jeff Carlson's Plague Year, and eagerly await the sequel. What happened to Ribopunk?

What is the status of the schism between Top Down and Bottom Up approaches to Nanotechnology?

What is the status of the schism between inorganic rigid (Drexler diamondoid) and wet floppy (protein, DNA engineering) approaches to Nanotechnology?

Is there a consensus yet on whether Nanotechnology was really started by and driven by Feynman, or (as some revisionists say) driven by people in microscopy or organic synthesis who never heard of Feynman in 1959?

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What is the connection between Nanotechnology and Global Warming or the Energy crisis? Nanotechnology and Biotechnology Education? Nanotechnology and the Space Program? Nanotechnology and Complex Systems? Computational Nanotechnology and what's really working in the labs? With the proliferation of specialized Nanotechnology journals and websites, what is required reading?

What's the deal with Picotechnology? Femtotechnology?

Here's your chance to ask an expert nanotechnician how your stain-resistant Dockers are going to turn the whole world into grey goo.

You deserve a gold star for that one.

By Brad Holden (not verified) on 20 Oct 2007 #permalink

It's a big favor to ask. I'm unreasonably busy and away from any computers for a while. Can someone pass on my questions to the online expert and post or email any answers?

Starting later this coming week, I fly to Boston for a week, with my main coauthor and I presenting 12 (yes, a full dozen) papers at the 7th International Conference on Complex Systems. Plus I have to chair some sessions, including at least one on Physical Systems (as I've done there before).

Wednesday I'm the devil's advocate in a big dabate in the main Golden Eagle Ballroom at Cal State L.A., on God and Darwin. Weirdely (given my agnosticism and doctoral work in Biology) I am opposing a pracher and former anti-darwinist who had a counter revelation, rejected his faith, and turned pro-darwin. So I have to argue for God and against Darwin! I can only do this by giving my categorization of a vast, sometimes profound, and sometimes crackpot literature (from over in Good Math Bad Math) on 14 axioms about the relationship between the putative existence of God, the consistency and beauty of Mathematics, and the existence and glory of the Physical universe; plus a set of legitimate questions in Biology not yet solved by the Neodarwinian synthesis (including biogenesis, the transition from the RNA world, and some problems in ecology and metabolomics and complex systems).

So the good news, for over a week, I can't bug Chad and his readers with my verbose and name-dropping screeds on Science Fiction, the collapse of the American public school system, nor my take (on which I recently gave a top-rated speech, soon to be a submitted paper) on How Sputnik changed me 50 years ago this month, and how it created the present and future for my fellow teachers.