I'm quoted in Monday's Kansas City Star. The report is what is known in journalese as a "localization" of a national or global story. The local angle is NanoScale Materials Inc., of Manhattan, Kan., and its Fast-Act nanomaterials that the company says can neutralize toxic chemicals and biowarfare agents.
Reporter Scott Canon sets the local and global scene in a well-written first three paragraphs:
- Ken Klabunde is an explorer in a world only a tad bigger than the atom.
He wanders the frontier of nanoscience, where forces like gravity begin to fade before the atomic scale's quantum physics take over.
"It's a new realm of matter," said Klabunde, the founder of NanoScale Materials Inc. He hopes to revolutionize industry and maybe make a few bucks along the way.
Such is the beauty, and perhaps the peril, of nanotechnology.
Then, in paragraphs that have been repeated like a mantra in news reports around the world, Canon appears to give equal time to the pseudoscience and real science.
- The same scientists who salivate at the most fantastic possibilities sniff danger, too. They wonder whether robots smaller than bacteria will leave a wasteland of "gray goo" as they reproduce and devour all they touch.
More realistically, they fear an unleashing of new poisons so small they could slip into the body through your fingertips.
I don't mean to be critical of Canon, whose nanotech reporting was better than most I've seen in the general media. It's simply another illustration of how nanotech's extreme detractors have won a complete victory over the truth.
The "gray goo" scenario is almost always used up high in news reports, and sometimes even given equal time with current nanotech reality. The media-savvy ETC Group, Greenpeace and others have so successfully implanted these ideas into the gestalt of mainstream thought that journalists would almost seem to be irresponsible if they did not mention gray goo in the same breath as buckytubes.