Technology on a Nano-Scale
Research and work with nanotechnology is stretching across the United States, with the highest concentration of institutions located in California, Massachusetts, New York and Texas, according to a new report, which also identified 138 government laboratories and universities studying this field.
In an effort to educate the public about nanotechnology research and development, The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars launched their findings in an interactive map (a Google mash-up) that displays where in the U.S. nanotech companies, universities, research laboratories and organizations are located.
"Public opinion polls show 80 percent of the public knows little or nothing about nanotechnology," said Julia A. Moore, the project's deputy director.
For those unfamiliar with nanotechnology, it's the industry where science and technology collide. It powers larger technologies, helps create new medicines, and is used in snazzy-new high-tech consumer products, such as clothing and cosmetics. However, with any new science or technology that's still in infancy, comes risk. One large concern is that nano-scaled versions of particles can be chemically identical to their larger counterparts, but create dramatically different results with still-unknown consequences.
Earlier this year, a Canadian-based civil society launched a contest to create an internationally recognized symbol that could be used on products comprised of these miniscule particles.
"The public should be educated about issues that impact them," said Moore. "There ought to be the appropriate amount of research into potential risks of nanotechnology."
For a closer look at nanotechnology, as well as its discoveries, impacts and hazards, read this primer by Washington Post science writer Rick Weiss.
-- Alicia Cypress
Alicia Cypress covers business, technology and science for washingtonpost.com.
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