Azara Blog: Grand challenges in nanotechnology

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Date published: 2006/11/16

The BBC says:

A team of experts has drawn up five "grand challenges" in order to evaluate the safety of nanotechnology.

The field's potential could be compromised unless the scientific community can implement a programme of systematic risk research, they warn.

Writing in Nature journal, the team says that fears about nanotechnology's possible dangers may be exaggerated, but not necessarily unfounded.

The five challenges are designed to be completed over the next 15 years.

"The threat of possible harm - whether real or imagined - is threatening to slow the development of nanotechnology unless sound, independent and authoritative information is developed on what the risks are and how to avoid them," author Andrew Maynard and his colleagues write in Nature.

The five grand challenges include developing instruments to evaluate exposure to engineered nanomaterials in air and water and developing methods for assessing their toxicity.

The group of experts says that if the global research community can take advantage of the safety infrastructure already in place for biotechnology and computing, then nanotechnology has a rosy future.

A reasonable idea from reasonable people. Unfortunately in the modern world there are plenty of people who will oppose nanotechnology for religious reasons, just like there are plenty of people who oppose certain aspects of biotechnology (e.g. so-called GM food) for religious reasons. (The religion being the hatred of technology and especially the hatred of technology that involves corporations making money.) So only time will tell whether these "challenges" do much to assuage concerns over nanotechnology. Although it is probably wise to try and pre-empt the religious nutters in these matters.

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