Is nanotechnology playing God?
New study shows most Americans think it’s morally wrong

By JOE PETRIE - GM Today Staff 

February 23, 2008

 

Ray Walter, associate dean of the Electronics and Engineering Technologies Department at Waukesha County Technical College, holds up an example of a nanochip recently while in a WCTC lab.


WAUKESHA - Most Americans believe nanotechnology is morally unacceptable because of strong ties to faith that may skew perception about the basis of the minuscule science, a recent study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison said.

Dietram Scheufele, a UW-Madison professor of life sciences communication who helped conduct the study, said deeply-rooted religious views are dictating peoples’ views on nanotechnology. The results of the study show an urgent need to better explain the scientific practice to the public, he said.

"There seem to be distinct differences between the United States and countries that are key players in nanotech in Europe, in terms of attitude," Scheufele said in a written statement. "The importance of religion in these different countries that shows up in data set after data set parallels exactly the differences we’re seeing in terms of moral views."

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Nanotechnology involves the construction of devices and materials at the smallest achievable scale. Scientists hope the technology will allow for major breakthroughs in medicine, computers and other fields at a molecular level.

It has been gaining momentum in scientific fields in the past 20 years and now numerous nanotechnology devices are in use today. Locally, Waukesha County Technical College has been teaching an introductory program in the tiny science for the past several years.

For full story, go to the electronic version of The Freeman. Click here to access the electronic version.   

Joe Petrie can be reached at jpetrie@conleynet.com


This story appeared in The Freeman February 23, 2008.