The idea that nanotechnology might be able to help pull the US economy out of it’s current economic crisis is certainly being discussed seriously. For example, Intel CEO, Paul Otellini, announced a nanotechnology investment of $7B in February 2009. (There’s more about this in my blog posting of Feb. 11, 2009). Now the folks at the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies have announced a new event, Nanotechnology: Will It Drive a New Innovation Economy for the U.S.? on Monday, March 23, 2009 from 9:30 am to 10:30 am PST (if you’re on the East Coast and can attend they will serve a light lunch but you need to RSVP. More info. here.)The two speakers, Philip Shapira and Alan Porter, both have links to the Georgia (US) Institute of Technology. I mention that because last October (2008) the Japanese government announced they were funding four research satellite projects in institutions outside of Japan. it was described as a unique collaboration and the Georgia Institute of Technology is the location for one of these research satellites. There’s more information here at Azonano. (Note: The headline focuses on the University of Cambridge so you do have to read on to find the information about the other sites.)
I attended a lecture or nanotechnology which was part of the University of British Columbia’s (Canada) research week. Professor Alireza Nojeh (electrical engineering) gave a charming presentation. I was curious about how he would deal with some of the problems you encounter when explaining nanotechnology. He focused on measurements, size, and scale at the beginning and did a better job than I do when I’m presenting. Still, I haven’t seen anyone really crack that barrier of how you describe something that’s unseen. The images help to convey scale but there’s a point at which most people are going to have to take a huge leap in imagination. Of course, we did that with germs but the ‘germ’ leap occurred before living memory so we’ll probably have to relearn that skill.
Dr. Nojeh had another problem, it’s a very big topic. I noticed that he avoided much talk of biology and medicine (I do too) and only briefly discussed potential health concerns. I think they will be webcasting this (they were recording it) but this is probably one of those talks that were better attended in person. I will try to find out where the webcast will be posted.