March 25, 2009: From Puerto Rico to Montana, museums, universities and research centers are gearing up for one of the largest outreach efforts ever attempted for educating the public about science and engineering at the nanoscale, a barely conceivable environment where one can manipulate objects as small as a single atom.
To bring nanoscale research directly to the public, the 2009 Nano Days events will run from March 28 through April 5, with activities such as hands-on experiments, nanotechnology product demonstrations, forums, laboratory tours and in at least one museum, juggling.
At the nanoscale, some materials are more reactive and can exhibit extraordinary properties, leading many scientists and engineers to believe advances in nanotechnology may bolster the US economy and help the nation meet such challenges as affordable clean energy and personalized drugs. Already, many products on the market-from stain-repellant clothing to sun screens-incorporate nanotechnology.
Organized by the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Net)–created in 2005 with a grant from the National Science Foundation–Nano Days involves more than 200 different sites, an effort spearheaded by the Museum of Science in Boston, the Science Museum of Minnesota and San Francisco’s Exploratorium.
A nanowire laser device, in development in the laboratory of 2007 National Science Foundation Waterman awardee Peidong Yang at the U. of California/Berkeley. (Source: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation)