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Should Americans Be MORE Interested in Nanotechnology?

Should Americans Be MORE Interested in NanotechnologyMany of you who read this space religiously -- we don't thank you often enough for following our daily musings -- enjoyed learning more about the growing flirtation in the field of medicine with nanotechnology as a potential weapon to fight cancer as much as I did sharing it. Unfortunately, we may be a minority, at least in America, according to a recent joint study from the University of Wisconsin and Arizona State University.

Researchers believe the knowledge gap is widening between those who know nothing about nanotechnology (those without high school degrees) and folks who stay on top of things (people with college educations), and will keep growing over time. Like many subjects, however, the Internet is fast becoming a critical and effective equalizer that is expected to close that divide.

A recent British report funded by the UK's Food Standards Agency about the use of cloning, irradiation and nanotechnology in our daily lives provides more reasons why Americans ought to be more concerned about these scientific breakthroughs. Although awareness about nanotechnology across the pond was low too, attitudes about it were positive. There was skepticism by the Brits, however, when it came to medicine and food. The use of nanotech in the arena of food packaging was okay but not so much in foods.

To the good, some agencies of the federal government are stepping into the breach, by taking the necessary budgetary steps, hopefully, to better regulate the development and safety of nanotechnology. For example, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a federal agency that's taken the lead on developing more stringent standards for handling nanomaterials in the workplace, has requested an appropriation that would nearly double its current budget in 2011.

The moral of the story: There's no better time than right now to become more responsible and wiser about the world and the technology that surrounds us. Steal a couple of minutes away from your daily Facebook time to get up to speed. Believe me, you can afford to miss Farmville once in a while...

2020 Science February 18, 2010 March 5, 2010

Nanotechnology Now January 13, 2010

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