Stories tagged risks

Nov
25
2007

At least one person is concerned about nanotech: somewhere.
At least one person is concerned about nanotech: somewhere.Courtesy andymiah
Nanotechnology is the wave of the future (or one of them), especially here around Science Buzz. Sure, it’s a small wave, but it’s very powerful, like Mighty Mouse, or Dr. Ruth. According to at least one new study, however, most people are pretty much unaware of the possible risks associated with the technology.

The new survey, coming out of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, shows that experts are far more concerned about the potential health and environmental risks of nanotechnology than the general public is

“Nanotechnology is starting to emerge on the policy agenda,” says one of the authors of the study. “But with the public, it's not on their radar,"

Nanotechnology has a vast range of potential applications (check out some of the Buzz’s nano-related stories here), and scientists want the public to be conscious of its potential ramifications, good and bad, before they’re actually exposed to the fruits of nanotech research.

It can be difficult for scientists to predict all the effects of the nano-sized materials they work with (their toxicity to the human body, for example), because, on such a small scale, substances can behave very differently than what we might normally expect.

This study, like most studies, has got me worried. Worried, and thinking, and thinking worriedly. There are a lot of potential nano problems out there, ones that even the scientists probably haven’t thought of. Like, if I ever spilled a bowl of some nano stuff, they’d be totally hard to find again. Because they’re so small.

Or, what about this: I hate glitter. I hate it because it’s so small and it gets stuck on my fingers. It makes it look like I’ve been giving David Bowie a face massage. What if there were nano-glitter? I think it would be worse.

And, sure, nanobots might be able to rebuild my body someday, but what if they rebuilt it, you know, really ugly?

Or did you ever see that movie Innerspace? That’s probably the first thing some scientists would do – build nano-submarines to float around inside your body. If I wanted Dennis Quiad swimming around my brain, I’d just go buy a poster. But I’m not sure that I do want that.

The future is a nerve-racking place.

Several major news outlets (Washington Post and NYTimes) are reporting on new findings released today that show we simply don't know enough about the safety risks associated with many new nanotechnologies. Learn more about this new science.