Scientists relax – Australia loves us

ICONN, Media releases

And Australians are feeling good about new technologies including nanotechnology.

Most Australians (84%) feel positive that science and technology are improving society. These positive perceptions have been strongly held over the last five years.

That’s a big relief for scientists worried about recent attacks on the science of climate change and on immunisation.

It’s the key result from a national survey into community attitudes to science and nanotechnology.

The survey, conducted for the Federal Government is being presented today in Sydney at ICONN 2010 – Australia’s International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.

The report also reveals that Australians are excited about the potential of nanotechnology in medicine, solar energy, and environmental protection but cautious about the use of nanotechnology in food and cosmetics.

“This report is a huge boost for researchers in nanotechnology,” says Cathy Foley, conference co-director, CSIRO scientist, and President of FAST, the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies.

“Nanotechnology has already delivered:

  • fast, mobile computing: today’s high performance, low energy computer chips (the transistors on Intel’s new chips are just 32 nanometres wide (32 millionths of millimetre)).
  • terabyte hard disks storing our life’s memories
  • drug delivery through nanopatches.

“On the way, and being discussed at ICONN are:

  • nano-gold particles that track down the early signs of cancer
  • plastic solar panels that could produce electricity as cheaply as coal
  • nanoelectrodes to explore our brain
  • fast, permanent computer memory.”

“But we also need to consider potential new risks from these technologies,” says co-chair Andrew Dzurak, director of the Semiconductor Nanofabrication Facility at UNSW.

“Delegates at ICONN are discussing:

  • Do nanoparticles need special regulations – for example in food?
  • Will nano-silver particles harm the environment as they wash out of clothes and other products?
  • Do we know enough about nanoparticles in cosmetics?
  • Are our regulators ready for the challenges of carbon nanofibres and other nanotechnologies in the workplace?”

Some of these issues will be explored tonight when James O’Loghlin from the ABC’s New Inventors chairs a free forum exploring how a nanotech product finds its way through development, regulation, commercialisation and use.

Australian and international speakers are available to talk about nanotechnology and its many applications. Craig Cormick is available to speak about the survey.

To download the full survey click here.

For further information contact, Niall Byrne for Science in Public: 0417 131 977,

Or Michelle Kovacevic for Science in Public: 0433 496 728,

Kind regards,

Niall Byrne