Nanoscientists Do Damage Control

When Michael Crichton’s wrote Jurassic Park, a novel about bringing dinosaurs back via cloning, biologists and paleontologists were thrilled at the positive exposure it provided for their field. But as told in this Globe & Mail story, nanoscientists are worried that with Crichton’s latest novel Prey, which deals with self-assembling, self-reproducing, self-sustaining molecules programmed as predators that escape from their lab, the exact opposite will be true–so worried, in fact, that nanoscientists from the American Association of Science are preparing a press statement to explain how the book should be interpreted.

“We have to take this seriously,” says German physicist Wolfgang Heckl. “If enough senators in the U.S. get phone calls from their constituents saying, ‘I just read Prey and I’m scared,’ it could have a real impact on our funding. Nanoscience is just in its infancy. We can’t afford to be cut off.”

One thought on “Nanoscientists Do Damage Control”

  1. I think writers, like Chrighton, that challenge us to think and envision something different encourage us all to change our perspective and on some level ponder the consequences. I believe nanoscience is beneficial and that Chrighton is providing us with a possible alternative. Writers should provide provoking alternatives that may not necessarily fit the mainstream and they should also very much reflect the current times in order for society as a whole to benefit from their insights. Chrighton knows his audience and is well aware of the current American trends and he is writing for his audience. Marketing tool or not Chrighton is obviously successful at it and is doing what every aspiring writer would wish to do–make a decent living from writing.

    The fact that the scientist is worried about his funding is merely a reflection on science as it has become today–the focus on funding and not on the research itself. I challenge Wolfgan Heckl’s view to see the general public as automatons. Our society as a whole is more intelligent and would not form an opinion based on one book alone. The “War of the Worlds” scenario which Heckl specifies is not relevant in these times of overwhelming opportunity to inform ourselves through a wide source of mainstream and non mainstream media.

    In the end it is our choice to believe the soundbites or to actually inform ourselves about issues that may affect our lives.

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