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November 27th, 2009

irishtimes.com

Abstract:
At the "nano" level - where particles have at least one dimension of less than 100 nanometres - materials can often behave differently than their bulk counterparts, opening up new opportunities for improving medicine, electronics and a swathe of consumer products. But it also presents a need to monitor safety closely.

With such a disruptive technology, it's hardly surprising that ethical questions arise, and they are engagingly discussed in a new book, Nanoethics - Big Ethical Issues with Small Technology by Dr Dónal O'Mathúna.

"We have literally a small technology in our hands and we have a lot of human decisions about where we are going to take this. Where we need to focus our attention now is in these areas - and they are not unique to nanotechnology; they are getting back at those value systems that are driving all our social development," says O'Mathúna, a senior lecturer in ethics, decision-making and evidence at Dublin City University. "There's a huge amount of funding and investment and academic and industrial interest in the area, yet very low attention and general awareness on the public's level of what is happening here."

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