Thanks to Dexter Johnson who on his IEEE blog, Nanoclast, recently commented on the publication of a German government paper and the resulting international kerfuffle. Apparently a government agency placed a background paper about nanotechnology and its potential risks on their website which was picked up in newspapers that which used alarming headlines (likely to garner readership). From Johnson’s comments,
The only thing that the UBA [a German government department] has in their favor for covering up their naïve and ill-conceived decision to catalogue a bunch of research that is not even their own on the risk of nanoparticles is that to a large extent the public doesn’t care.
I’m not sure why Johnson is so harsh about the fact that they did not present original research. I expect a background paper to present information that has been previously published and that represents a broad spectrum of opinions and ideas. I would find it disconcerting if original research were to be included.
The whole incident is an interesting example of how anything can take on its own life (something I discussed in my Monday, Oct. 28, 2009 posting discussion of some recent comments by Eric Drexler). You can read one of the English language versions of a ‘kerfuffle’ article here and a ‘damage control’ article here.
According to a news item on Azonano, Canada’s National Research Council (NRC) Canadian Photonics Fabrication Centre has released a report suggesting that over the next five years their client firms will generate about $500M. You can read more about it all here.