Monday, September 25, 2006

Predictable findings, but great soundbites

The Washington Post's Rick Weiss and the New York Times's Barnaby J. Feder both just wrote pieces about the new NRC report for Congress on the state of the National Nanotech Initiative (NNI).

As Rick Weiss writes, "[t]he report concludes that the U.S. research effort is vibrant and almost certainly the strongest in the world, though a few other countries are close behind. Among the more important unmet needs, it says, is stronger collaboration with the departments of Education and Labor to boost the supply of scientists and technicians with the skills the sector needs.

The report's concerns about the lack of a federal focus on nanotech health and safety were foreshadowed at a House Science Committee hearing Thursday at which Republicans and Democrats alike took the Bush administration to task over the lack of a plan to learn more about nanotech's risks."

While the report's conclusions shouldn't surprise anyone, they triggered a few good soundbites, among others from ranking Democrat on the House Science Committee Bart Gordon (Tenn.) who called the report "a very juvenile piece of work."

But the best and probably most accurate commentary didn't come from pundits or politicans -- but straigth from NSF. “I have to tell you that this area is so complex that I don’t know of any person or a small group of people who would be smart enough to be able to identify all the risks, set the priorities, and lay out a so-called game plan,” said Arden L. Bement Jr., director of the National Science Foundation. “The situation changes day by day, and so there has to be more of a soccer approach to this rather than an American football approach.”

(Click here for the Washington Post article and here for the NYT article.)