Nanotechnology scenarios from Europe's Nanologue

Funded by the European Commission, the Nanologue project has released its report titled The future of nanotechnology: We need to talk. It presents three scenarios:

Scenario 1: Disaster recovery
A lack of regulation resulted in a major accident. Public concern about nanotechnology is high and technology development is slow and cautious.

Scenario 2: Now we’re talking
Strong regulation and accountability systems are in place. The technology has been shaped by societal needs and strong health and safety concerns.

Scenario 3: Powering ahead
Scientific progress has been faster than expected and nanotechnology is making a real impact, particularly in energy conversion and storage.

I look forward to reading the report, which I expect includes much of value. The first thing I check in such reports is the historical timeline, which in this case includes, as the first and last entries:

1959: The word nanotechnology first appears in Richard Feynmann’s lecture ‘There’s plenty of room at the bottom’

2005: Glass-treating spray containing nanoparticles recalled in Germany

As many of you know, both of these are incorrect, so that makes me a bit nervous. But the scenario approach can be very useful, and I expect it will yield some insights here. —Christine

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