Nanotechnology’s Promise: A Big Risk in a Small Package?

Microscopic, manmade nanoparticles have found their way into almost every part of our daily lives from clothing, to skin care, our cell phones, and even the soil. But how safe are we from ill effects from extensive exposure? And what happens when engineered nanomaterials find their way into the environment? In this program, experts explore emerging areas of research looking to engineer a healthier, safer, and more efficient future.

PARTICIPANTS: Vicki Colvin, Ponisseril Somasundaran, Paul Weiss

MODERATOR: Andrew Revkin


This program is part of the series “The Big, the Small, and the Complex,” and is sponsored by The Kavli Foundation and The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. The Kavli Prize recognizes scientists for their seminal advances in astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience.

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What is nanotechnology? 00:06

How do nanomaterials end up in the environment? 02:00

How do you study toxicity? 09:20

Safety by design in chemistry 12:14

Engineering safe sunscreen 14:10

What industries will benefit the most from nanotech? 15:23

Nanoparticles in plants and soils 19:27

Nanomaterials in healthcare and medicine 24:44

Collaboration across scientific disciplines 32:16

Society and the perception of risk and benefits 34:19

Green technology 20:25

Labeling nano products 46:30

What kind of sunscreen should I use? 48:30

What companies will benefit the most from nano? 51:50

Pure research versus industry driven 57:35

This program was filmed live at the 2017 World Science Festival and edited for YouTube.

Watch long and short-form videos on nearly every science-related topic including physics, biology, the brain, robotics, medicine, space, engineering, and the Earth. We gather great minds in science and the arts to produce live and digital content that allows a broad general audience to engage with scientific discoveries. Through discussions, debates, original films, lectures, and intimate salons, the World Science Festival takes science out of the laboratory and out into world.

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