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Former White House science advisor warns that nanotechnology's potential threatened

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- "Nanoscale science and engineering promise to be as important as the steam engine, the transistor, and the Internet, and have the potential to revolutionize all other technologies" according to Neal Lane, former science advisor to U.S. President Bill Clinton. "But that outcome is not guaranteed."

Dr. Lane made his remarks today at a Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies event at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The program marked the release of a new article in the December 2006 issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology, "What drives public acceptance of nanotechnology""

"A recent poll by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies shows that while public awareness of nanotechnology is increasing, fully 69 percent of Americans have heard little or nothing about nanotechnology," said Lane. "More young people are seeing nanotechnology in advertisements for MP3 players than are learning about nanotechnology in schools."

"In my view, given whats at stake, this situation is unacceptable. I fear that nanotechnology may be heading for a fall. A major environmental, medical or safety problemreal or boguswith a product or application thats labeled nanotechnologywhether it actually is nanotechnology or notcould dampen public confidence and financial investment in nanotechnologys future, and could even lead to unwise regulation. We should not let this happen," stated Dr. Lane.

He called on government, corporations and the science and engineering community to take urgently three steps to avert this possible occurrence. "First is a major effort to set aside the resources necessary to investigate nanotechnologys possible environmental, health, and safety risks."

A "second step critical to the success of nanotechnology is to infuse nanotechnology education into the curriculum in every school and teacher education program." Dr. Lane highlighted the huge investment the U.S. made to science an
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Contact: Julia Moore
julia.moore@wilsoncenter.org
202-691-4025
Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies
5-Dec-2006


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