The big picture on nanoscience

The Wellcome Foundation – one of the world’s largest biomedical research charities – has released a 16 page briefing document on nanoscience and nanotechnology intended for science teachers and post-16 students. It can be downloaded as a PDF from the associated web-pages – The Big Picture on Nanoscience – which are well-supplied with additional web-based resources and also have instructions for ordering the print version.

The document seems pretty exemplary to me – well and punchily written by some excellent science writers, well-illustrated and covering most of the points in a pretty balanced way. It’s particularly good on the debate about risks and potential downsides of nanotechnology.

The highlight for me is this nanointerview with two people from different sides of the debate – Doug Parr, Chief Scientist of Greenpeace, and Mark Welland, director of the Cambridge Nanoscience Centre. It’s a model of thoughtful debate with each protagonist looking cooly at both sides of the argument. Many people will welcome this statement from Doug Parr: “There isn’t big public opposition to nanotechnologies. Greenpeace isn’t opposed to them either: I hope some good things will come out of them. But we do have some scepticism about how they will be shaped.”

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