Some high profile events in London next week mean that nanotechnology may move a little way up the UK news agenda. On Monday, there’s an event at the Houses of Parliament: Nano Task Force Conference: Nanotechnology – is Britain leading the way? The Nano Task Force in question is a ginger group set up by Ravi Silva, at the University of Surrey, with political support from Ian Gibson MP. Gibson is a Labour Member of Parliament, one of the rare breed of legislators with a science PhD, and a reputation for being somewhat independent minded.
On Tuesday, public engagement is the theme, with an all-day event “All Talk? Nanotechnologies and public engagement” at the Institute of Physics. This is a joint launch; the thinktank Demos and the Nanotechnology Engagement Group are both launching reports. The Demos report is on a series of public engagement exercises, The Nanodialogues, while Nanotechnology Engagement Group final report is an overview of the lessons learnt from all the engagement activities around nanotechnology conducted so far in the UK. The keynote speaker is Sir David King, the government’s chief scientific advisor.
I’m involved in both, giving a talk on the potential of nanotechnology for sustainable energy on Monday, and Tuesday chairing one session and being a panel member on another. Other participants include Sheila Jasanoff from Harvard, David Edgerton, the author of the recently published book “The Shock of the Old”, Ben Goldacre, the writer of the Guardian’s entertaining ‘Bad science’ column, Andy Stirling, from Sussex, James Wilsdon and Jack Stilgoe from Demos, Doug Parr from Greenpeace, and David Guston, the Director of the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University. It promises to be a fascinating day.