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May 1st, 2005

Debating Nanotechnologies

Public dialogues on nanotechnology have been on the wish list of almost every government in recent years, but the problem always remains, how do you begin a sensible dialogue on an issue as broad and complex as nanotechnology? We have been examining this problem in the context of a number of EU funded projects, and it seems that public dialogue tends to be somewhat random. While there was a great deal of debate on what the internal combustion engine world mean for society, there was very ittle debate over the use of plastics (our thanks to Professors Arie Rip and Alfred Nordman for the discussing these issues with us recently). Of course it is much easier for non technical specialists to understand the concept of replacing horses with machines than getting to grips with the impact of control over polymerisation, which has led to everything from plastic bags to liquid crystals.


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