''Life As We Don't Know It''
"If you think of life on Earth as a magnificent incarnation of natural technology, then life has the classic double-edged character of all powerful technologies. This technology has produced a wondrous diversity of beings displaying a gorgeous marriage of form and function on hierarchical levels that span the range from cells to rain forests and beyond. Yet it also has created pathogens that indifferently kill millions of people each year, ecological disasters that wipe out species, and intelligent beings that deliberately perpetrate catastrophes on similar scales.
On Nov. 14, I attended a 'discussion' at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., titled 'Synthetic Biology: Coming Up Fast!' It made me wonder whether the scientific community might be approaching another Promethean moment, like the one associated with the emergence of nuclear technology last century and that ever since has committed humanity to shepherding nuclear technology's promise while containing its perils.
The discussants were Denise Caruso, executive director of the not-for-profit Hybrid Vigor Institute, a consultancy 'dedicated to interdisciplinary and collaborative problem solving,' and Rick Weiss, formerly a science writer with the Washington Post and now a senior fellow with the D.C.-based think tank Center for American Progress (CAP). The two chatted comfortably in a faux on-stage living room. CAP cosponsored the event with the Wilson Center's Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies. The driver of their discussion is a cadre of scientists and entrepreneurs who run companies with names like Synthetic Genomics and who aim to create, exploit, and perhaps unleash new-to-the-world biological constructs."
Momentous change can come in tiny packages. Nanotechnologies have been hailed by many as the next industrial revolution, likely to affect everything from clothing and medical treatments to engineering. Although focused on the very small, nanotechnology—the ability to measure, manipulate and manufacture objects that are 1/100th to 1/100,000th the circumference of a human hair—offers immense promise. Whether used in cancer therapies, pollution-eating compounds or stain-resistant apparel, these atomic marvels are radically and rapidly changing the way we live. The National Science Foundation predicts that the global marketplace for goods and services using nanotechnologies will grow to $1 trillion by 2015 and employ 2 million workers.
Washington, DC - The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) has developed findNano , an application for Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch that lets users discover and determine whether consumer products are nanotechnology-enabled. Nanotechnology, the emerging technology of using materials by engineering th More info
Nanotechnology and synthetic biology continue to develop as two of the most exciting areas of scientific discovery, but research has shown that the public is almost completely unaware of the science and its applications. A groundbreaking poll of 1,001 U.S. adults conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates and the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) found 90 percent of Americans think that the public should be better informed about the development of cutting-edge technologies. More info
A groundbreaking poll finds that almost half of U.S. adults have heard nothing about nanotechnology, and nearly nine in 10 Americans say they have heard just a little or nothing at all about the emerging field of synthetic biology, according to a new report released by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies and Peter D. Hart Research. Both technologies involve manipulating matter at an incredibly small scale to achieve something new. More info
Over 1,000 nanotechnology-enabled products have been made available to consumers around the world, according to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN). The most recent update to the group’s three-and-a-half-year-old inventory reflects the increasing use of the tiny particles in everything from conventional products like non-stick cookware and lighter, stronger tennis racquets, to more unique items such as wearable sensors that monitor posture.
Looking for a job in nanotechnology? You might want to check out just where the nano hot spots are around the country. I have just the resource. The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies created an interactive map of the United States showing the locations of the more than 1,200 companies, universities, government laboratories, and organizations working in nanotechnology. More info
Data released today by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) highlights more than 1,200 companies, universities, government laboratories, and other organizations across all 50 U.S. states and in the District of Columbia that are involved in nanotechnology research, development, and commercialization. This number is up 50 percent from the 800 organizations identified just two years ago.
A new review article appearing in Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) co-authored by Dr. Todd Kuiken, a research associate for the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN), focuses on the use of nanomaterials for environmental cleanup. It provides an overview of current practices; research findings; societal issues; potential environment, health, and safety implications; and possible future directions for nanoremediation. The authors conclude that the technology could be an effective and economically viable alternative for some current site cleanup practices, but potential risks remain poorly understood. More info
Since 1980, the capability of the federal agencies responsible for environmental health and safety has steadily eroded. The agencies cannot perform their basic functions now, and they are completely unable to cope with the new challenges they face in the 21st century. This paper describes some of these challenges, focusing on next-generation nanotechnologies, and suggests changes that could revitalize the health and safety agencies. More info
The nearly $800 billion stimulus package being debated in Congress contains a number of measures intended to improve information technology, infrastructure and the energy economy in the United States - all areas that will be greatly aided by nanotechnology. However, without an increased focus by the federal government on possible risks posed by engineered nanomaterials, many of the potential societal advancements created by the emerging technology could be compromised. More info
As part of a 6-DVD lecture series produced by the Museum of Science, Boston, Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies director David Rejeski covers the topic of nanotechnology in consumer products. This set, Talking Nano, provides an excellent overview of nanotechnology. More info
The Canadian government reportedly is planning to release in February the world’s first national regulation requiring companies to detail their use of engineered nanomaterials, according to environmental officials. The information gathered under the requirement will be used to evaluate the risks of engineered nanomaterials and will help to develop appropriate safety measures to protect human health and the environment. More info
Recent action in Congress to reauthorize the U.S. federal nanotechnology research program offers the chance to address the social and ethical issues concerning the emerging scientific field, experts say. More info
Nanotechnology has tremendous potential to contribute to human flourishing in socially just and environmentally sustainable ways. However, nanotechnology is unlikely to realize its full potential unless its associated social and ethical issues are adequately attended. More info
The House Science and Technology Committee introduced a bill Jan. 15 about the need to strengthen federal efforts to better comprehend the potential environmental, health and safety effects of nanotechnology. More info