The Power of Small: Nano Hits the Big Time

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

Or at least the small screen.  Coming to your local PBS station this month is a three-part series on nanotechnology called The Power of Small.  The segments cover three facets of the much-needed social debate about nanotechnology:  privacy issues (e.g., nano-enabled tracking devices), ethical issues (focusing on the potential to greatly extend human life expectancy), and, of course, the environmental risks and applications.

I urge you to tune in.  The series’ website has a station locator that can tell you where it’s playing and when (unfortunately, each station decides whether and when to show it).  Or you can watch the whole series in bite-sized pieces online on the series’ website itself.

I’m telling you all this not only because I’m featured in the environment segment (along with fellow nanobloggers Andrew Maynard and Kristen Kulinowski and many others), but because I think the series does a fabulous job in airing the complex social, ethical, and environmental questions society needs to address – the earlier the better – in pursuing such a transformative set of technologies.

The Power of Small is the latest installment of the Fred Friendly Seminars series.  For you younger folks, no, Fred Friendly is not a kids’ cartoon character.  In the 1950s, together with Edward R. Murrow, Friendly was among the first in journalism to take on Senator Joseph McCarthy and was a staunch advocate for a strong press and unfettered public access to information.  George Clooney famously brought Friendly (and that dark era) back to life by starring as him in the excellent 2005 film, Good Night, and Good Luck (which Clooney also directed and co-wrote).

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