Friday, November 2, 2007

Nanoscience and Hope

Friday's LA Times featured a front-page story on John Kanzius, the man who developed a system to kill cancer tumors using radio waves and nanoparticles. Two things stand out in this inspiring narrative. First, Kanizius is an engineer who worked in television and radio broadcasting with no experience in the medical field. He had been developing the radio transmitter himself while undergoing chemotherapy. He later collaborated with Richard Smalley, including nanoparticles that attach themselves to cancer cells. The system essentially heats up the nanoparticles, killing the cancer cells while leaving the healthy tissue unaffected. In other words, chemotherapy would be a thing of the past. Second, the article points to at least one other potential use for Kanzius' invention -- distilling hydrogen from salt water for use in fuel cells.

When reading this article, you can't help but be hopeful about the future of nanotechnologies and nanoscience. The article clearly gives the impression that these miraculous inventions are just around the corner. What effect will these hopeful media frames have on public opinion? Does the hopeful frame of the nano-related medical stories transfer to the larger issue of nanotechnologies and nanoscience?

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