Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Nanotechnology, Law and Policy

On Thursday, June 25 from 6pm to 8pm, the New York City Bar Association is hosting an event entitled Do Good Things Really Come in Small Packages? Nanotechnology, Law and Policy: How our Legal System Handles Emerging Technologies. BLS Professor Edward Cheng is one of the program speakers along with Dan Abrahams of Columbia University's Science and Technology Ventures, Prof. Gregory Mandel of Temple University's Beasley School of Law and John Weiner, Associate Director for Policy in FDA's Office of Combination Products.

The subject of the event, nanotechnology, is the study of the control of matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally nanotechnology deals with structures of the size 100 nanometers or smaller, and involves developing materials or devices within that size. With much debate on the implications of nanotechnology and its potential for creating new materials and devices in medicine, electronics and energy production. Nanotechnology also raises many of the same issues as with any introduction of new technology, including concerns about toxicity, the environmental impact of nanomaterials, and their potential effects on global economics and other areas.

The NYSBA event focuses on whether special regulation of nanotechnology is warranted. As nanotechnology revolutionizes fields as diverse as health care, clean energy and the environment, the question arises as to how law and policy can shape the way the public might benefit from advances in this new technology and whether our legal system may need to guard against risks to public health and safety posed by such scientific advances.

This 10 minute video shows how researchers are manipulating particles at the atomic level, ushering in potential cures for cancer, clothes that don't stain, and solar panels as thick as a sheet of paper.

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