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Nano Expo at Nottingham Uni

Nanobot | 27.05.2007 09:25 | Bio-technology

On 16-17th May a 'Nano Expo' took place at the East Midlands Conference Centre, University of Nottingham. Nanotechnology is hailed as the new technological fix for the world's problems by certain scientists, but there are serious issues with the technology itself and the way it is being developed.

The Nano Expo site says that the event is: "Designed to bring together key industrialists and researchers in the field of micro- and nanotechnology. Leading international speakers will contribute to parallel sessions targeted at both commercial and scientific audiences." There are some of us who are less excited about this new technology and think that such conferences should be protested.

Links Nano expo website | Institute of Nano Technology | Wikipedia on Nano Technology

Articles: Nanotech: Corporations make money, government ducks issue, public takes the risk | NANOTECHNOLOGY: What it is and how corporations are using it | Time to make your voice heard on nanotech regulation | Protest at Nano-tech conference, Oxford | Nanoparticle based spray recalled after 80 made ill | After GM Food – here comes Nano Food! | Nano Hazard Competition samples | Nano-Justice and Food Sovereignty | Resistance to Nanotechnology in France | products using Nanotechnology

The 'nano optimists' who are backing the technology foresee nanotechnology:

"delivering environmentally benign material abundance for all by providing universal clean water supplies; atomically engineered food and crops resulting in greater agricultural productivity with less labour requirements; nutritionally enhanced interactive ‘smart’ foods; cheap and powerful energy generation; clean and highly efficient manufacturing; radically improved formulation of drugs, diagnostics and organ replacement; much greater information storage and communication capacities; interactive ‘smart’ appliances; and increased human performance through convergent technologies." (Wikipedia)

All very exciting, I'm sure, but we've been here before with the wonder technologies that are supposed to solve all of our problems, but end up creating new and worse ones. Biotechnology was meant to feed the world's poor and revolutionise medicine. In fact, it made poor farmers poorer and dependent on rich corporations for seed. No doubt the 'white man's burden' this time will prove to be similarly exploitative, as Western corporations are already snapping up all of the patents for nanoparticles.

Then there's the possible risks to human health. According to wikipedia


Smaller particles means that they are more reactive and result in increased free radical production in the body, resulting in "oxidative stress, inflammation, and consequent damage to proteins, membranes and DNA". Nanoparticles can readily enter the human body and potentially cause extensive cell damage (Science). In fact, the potential health and environmental risks are so great that the Royal Society recommended that:

"nanomaterials be regulated as new chemicals, that research laboratories and factories treat nanomaterials "as if they were hazardous", that release of nanomaterials into the environment be avoided as far as possible, and that products containing nanomaterials be subject to new safety testing requirements prior to their commercial release."

Nanomaterials remain effectively unregulated. For commercial reasons perhaps?

Nanotechnology could potentially be huge. According to the APEC Center for Technology Foresight:

"If nanotechnology is going to revolutionise manufacturing, health care, energy supply, communications and probably defence, then it will transform labour and the workplace, the medical system, the transportation and power infrastructures and the military. None of these latter will be changed without significant social disruption."

A big question is, who's going to get to say how these areas are revolutionised. With corporate science and the state governments firmly in charge at the moment they are unlikely to develop new military technologies for anyone's benefit except their own, and we can hardly expect them to give a damn about the environmental and health risks they unleash in the process.

Those who oppose the development of nanotechnology suggest possible outcomes such as:

"destabilising international relations through a growing nano arms race and increased potential for bioweaponry; providing the tools for ubiquitous surveillance, with significant implications for civil liberty; breaking down the barriers between life and non-life through nanobiotechnology, and redefining even what it means to be human." (Wikipedia)

With such possible consequences as these, we should be calling nanotechnologists into question everywhere they go. Events like the Nano Expo with it's assumptions that scientists and government (including Nottingham City Council's 'Science City' visions for our future) can, hand in hand, make decisions about everyone's future on our behalf, need to be challenged. When the dangerous truths about new technologies get in the way of profit and state control, there is usually an effort to keep the public in the dark. We need to do to nanotech what we have done to biotech in the past. Tell them what we think in no uncertain terms.


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15.05.2007 14:18

I agree with your article but disagree with the graffitti. You are using nano-technology to read this, luddite.
Impact Magazine have just started a very optimistic-sounding "science and technology column". Science communication is big on campus. Science communication is obviously a 2 way thing, usually aimed at kids. The good news is science is becoming very unpopular at a school level, whilst the only reason people like me learn science is to "revolutionise" it.
Nanotech may be unknown but you are perfectly welcome to chat to any of the researchers. Their phone numbers and emails are on the internet.
Luddites need to be challenged too.
The strange thing about this "nano" phrase is that their is a lot of money in it but it is just old chemistry and materials science dressed up to get research councils to fund them.
If you have anything to write in my "research stinks" section of the column please freely email pcyzbas AT thanks.

mail e-mail:
- Homepage:

includes free lecture wednesday at nottm trent uni

15.05.2007 18:19

the main dodgy company there seems to be thompson swan with exxon links, check the website for free lecture, the main costs £350 inlcuding a wine buffet at council house, how nice

robin ludd

uh hgh

15.05.2007 18:53

oooh, scary, calling the original poster a Luddite!?*!

A. They may well not be using nanotech to read this drivel debate - it's only some Intel chips that use nanotech.

B. The Luddites were people who saw technology threatening their way of life, indeed, their very life & the future of their communities, and stood up to resist this threat. That is something to be proud of, and we can draw parallels with nanotech and other technologies of control.

You can try 'revolutionising' science, but you'll find it hard once you're in the thick of it not to follow the research funding, which is generally provided by big business and follows their agenda.

In the case of nanotech, it is also supported by the government, Ministry of Defence, etc - they are pushing the same agenda, encouraging this big scary business to be here, along with the vivisectors (police harrassment of legally-campaigning animal rights kids as well as funding) as they 'failed' the genetics crops companies a little!

The government are also leaving it entirely unregulated and not funding research into the risks, whilst doffing their cap at taking public concerns into account.

Yes, because nano is the new buzz word, some existing R&D is calling itself nano to get funding. But it is certainly not "just old chemistry and materials science" - when substances are manipulated at the nano (or more accurately atomic) level, they have completely different properties, and the usual laws of physics do not apply. Just like with how genetic engineering was sold to us by the PR companies, it is not the same as what's been going on, it is not something which has been going on since medieval times etc blah blah.

Check out The Big Down on the ETC Group website if you want to find out more, and post that to your 'research stinks' column if you believe in airing different views.

And by the by, don't let £350 tickets stop you - just think of it as a party you're crashing!! Easy - where there's a will....


On market square too

15.05.2007 21:54

I was just on the Market Square where it seems various marquees have been set up for the Nano Expo event. Right in front of the council house. At the moment they are fenced in, I think because they're still setting up stuff inside, but it looks like they'll open up for publicicty stuff in the coming days. Time for a picket?


Long live the luddites!

16.05.2007 09:50

"I agree with your article but disagree with the graffitti. You are using nano-technology to read this, luddite."

I don't know about that, but I'd rather not be if I am. I'm sure many of us use computers, phones, clothes, etc. that have been made using slave labour and polluting procedures - it's hard to know what you're buying a lot of the time - but it doesn't mean that we think that this situation is one we want to perpetuate, and it doesn't mean we shouldn't be trying to change the situation for the better.

As for the luddites, they were a group based around Nottingham practising direct action against technology that was threatening their livelihoods. Not unreasonable really. Luddites today might be taking action against massive emitters of CO2 to prevent climate change that also threatens their livelihoods. Again, not unreasonable.

"The good news is science is becoming very unpopular at a school level, whilst the only reason people like me learn science is to "revolutionise" it."

You may find that science is rather difficult to revolutionise from the inside. As a previous poster has mentioned, it is driven entirely by funding which is controlled by the government and big business. If you dissent you will find that funding being cut off. You might be able to carry out a few reforms along your career path, but that will largely involve playing along with gov/business demands with very limited freedoms. It's certainly not a revolution. One of the quickest ways to revolutionise an industry has been through direct action from outside, hence the success of the anti-GM campaign in the UK.

"Luddites need to be challenged too."

So does technology, but it is harder to do that in a discourse that equates it with 'progress'.


Nano public lecture & expo reportback, nanotech+capitalism=WMDs

18.05.2007 14:36

The pic looks like a great photoshop type job to me, well done for writing the article, I need to save work before pressing publish, its frustrating when days of work gets lost like the nano expo article I did on sunday under time pressure.
‘Nanotechnology - Products and Processes
for Environmental Benefit’ 16-17 May by The Royal Society,was also happening at Carlton House Terrace, London.
This despite the Royal Societies own warnings on Nanotech.

So far the USA's,FDA has only been the only body to ban nano materials for breaches of design & copyright only. There was a conference on Nano safety in Hong Kong last year, but it seems it was another lip service to health&safety. DEFRA made guidelines for the industry last year & even these frustrate nanotechers like who see it as a halt on "progress".
There is a "Ethical Aspects of Nanotechnology: One Day conference on Nanotechnology, June 6, 2007 09:00 - 15:15
H.C. Oersted Institute; University of Copenhagen;Denmark
Demos invite you to a day of science policy discussions on Nanotech,Tuesday 26 June @Institute of Physics, 76 Portland Place, London W1B 1NT
NanoSafety and Instrumentation Tuesday 22nd May, 2007
Begbroke Science Park 09:00 – 17:00 Oxford, UK.
There was a nano military conference last year in london, protested at by Nano-alert with much public support.

Most scientists I spoke to including those at the Public Lecture promoting nano to Nottinghams business community seemed to agree that most funders & many in military are mad,does the universe play dice?. They seem enticed by projected 3trillion dollar budget by 2015. I mentioned the insurance nightmare "potentially worse than global warming which some people are trying to sue oil companies for", besides destruction of the universe& nano arms race, but not many of the largely male audience seemed to care.
Any good people in the military must also be pulling their hair out, as Brian Davey of Ecoworks noted the Pentagon wrote a paper saying climate change was the biggest threat to US, nano is worse than nuclear, we cannot afford one mistake especially in artificial intel & self-replicators.

Nanosnot your correct about changes at that scale can make safe chemicals or matter toxic. For example "envirox"the greenwash fuel made by Oxonica of Oxford contains
nano cerium oxide being tested on all of Stagecoach's buses is a bad idea according to scientists.
"While the toxicity of cerium oxide in bulk form is comparable to table salt, in nanoparticle form it could carry much greater risk--especially when inhaled."
Whereas larger particles are cleared by the lungs, studies have shown that some types of nanoparticles less than 100 nanometers in diameter can infiltrate the tissues lining the lung. Nanoparticles can end up in the blood stream, inside cells, and even, in some cases, inside the nuclei of cells where chromosomes reside. The EPA is concerned that while vehicles burning Envirox-treated diesel might produce less soot, they may also produce a new set of particles dangerous to humans.

The exhibit in town was pure propaganda staffed by Notts uni students who seemed to led by a well meaning Proffessor making nano hydrogen fuel cells, "a lovely idea", but any of these applicatications would be add to nano arms race.
Students said most members of the public were very sceptical & proffessors are suprised why many are turning away from work in science when the political sysytem we live under is so dumb.Nature is a scientist, but it seems many corporate scientists are being driven mad by current system,so lets change it now.Stop your research,unionise your workforce, apply the good science we know & work for revolution.
Facing the entrance there are 3pods,a cinema in the middle, a game pod on the left & hydrogen fuel cell pod on the right.
I would have loved to get to the main expo, but if your on warrant with police for trying to defend yourself from thugs & gangsters getting into these conferences is tricky, plus Iam 32 & dont get paid for this like everyone else & need to make to time for my own survival, though anyone up for it great.
A little bird also hears that the there seem to be a dozen nanotech hub centres in the UK. The old nazi colloborator BASF complex near EMDA now called Biocity is major player in the uk. The large nano centre they plan to build is for making nano-chips in Liverpool.All sectors of science & biology converge around nanotech & the wackiest group are the transhumanists who want to make totally cybernetic life.

Express your views on the website of the city council & emda's science magazine promoting nanotech into a world at war.
The webiste is main site for east midlands, corporate watch & the etc group have other links.
They are also promoting a game called nanomission made by playgen, where good versus bad nanoscientists fight it out.

Nottingham uni are making bad science fun is the main site for the nottingham expo

For further excellent analysis check
Greenpeace activists in Australia have written have written good info in the past, but Greenpeace ltd talk of the benefits of nano in todays world,how corporately cosy.

Johnny Mason, Nano alert & independent researcher,
member IWW

nanotech+capitalism=WMDs, cooperation+true revolution=life!

Johnny Mason
mail e-mail:


31.05.2007 00:29

technoscience of this nature could go both could be bad, or it could be good. Clearly its still experimental in many areas.

My objection to this stems for the fact that these lectures represent some of the finest scientific minds in the country, if not world, not to mention milllions of pounds being distracted away from issues like climate change and peak oil, which will be out of control by the time nanotechnology can do anything about them. The big oil sponsorship is another indicator that this, while being of scientific value, is another attempt to create a false perception of an immediate 'technofix' to limit public pressure toremove big oil companies from government and the world at large.

We should not fear nanotechnology for what it is, but rather for what it detracts from and the false impression it gives that science has everything under control.


safe non nano suncreams & healthcare

31.05.2007 12:11

Man made nano Titanium Dioxide in sun creams have been used for decades & now increasinlgy in more cosmetics. All the "green" companies use nano, these creams & products as of yet have no labelling or regulation. Green companies I have spoken to say that the nanoparticles are safely coated, but there are no lawful safety procedures for workers.
There are recipes for suncreams about, many involve nappy rash ointment though more research is needed.
Below is a link to advice & links to proffesional non nano creams though they are hard to find.
There is only 1 product on internet in uk I could find that gaurantees no nanotech,an organic facial moisturiser
Personally I use cold pressed oils & marigold to help my skin after doing metal work or hard labour.

For science on carcinogenic effects.
list of creams likely to contain nanotechnology. excellent info from Friends
Link above says Nano may have even been used by eygptians, but nanotech combined with other tech we have today needs regulating & stopping until we have a true revolution when we can then test them more safely, cooperatively,

live long & prosper,

Johnny Mason, researcher
member Industrial Workers of the World

Johnny Mason

Small but perfectly formed?

01.06.2007 21:34

I increasingly think that discussions about whether nanotechnology is "good" or "bad" miss the point somewhat. (In any case you first have to say what standard their goodness or badness is to be measured by: technical progress; number of lives saved, environmental impact etc.)

If nanotechnology has the kind of impacts that some advocates seem to suggest then it's going to radically alter the way we live. I happen to think that this is something we (i.e. ordinary people) ought to have some say in, rather than leaving it up to scientists and corporate executives.

I don't know if anybody took the time to visit the exhibition in Market Square. Frankly I thought it was a bit pointless and somewhat superficial. I also noticed that a board on one wall dismissed "grey goo" type concerns as "science fiction" only for a computer game in another room to include a video game demonstrating medical uses of nanotehcnology which looked like a more exciting version of Inner Space (you remember, that film).

There was also a short video, but I didn't take much in from that. I was too busy wondering if the similarities with Chris Morris' The Day Today were deliberate or just unfortunate.

On reflection I wish I'd spent longer there and take the time to chat with some of the people running the exhibition, most of whom seemed to be international students from the university. (No doubt this contributes to paying off the huge international fees they have to pay.) As it is my reflections are necessarily superficial.

Disillusioned kid
mail e-mail: disillusioned_kid (at)
- Homepage:

Maytrix revalations

04.06.2007 04:17

dont worry some nano products have been tested on other animals with a physiology nothing like ours, so they must be safe for us to use cosmetically all our lives,honest, not.

I spoke to proffessor there at length, he specialised in Nano hydrogen fuel cells which is a nicer concept for nano, but agreed that the nano arms race that is revving up could be too terrible to contemplate & he didnt know the answer to stop it.
I part of a movement that says theres only one true solution
Meanwhile lets survive, build & av fun,

Johnny M