Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Nano in your neighborood

The Project on Emerging Nanotechnology just released a new report on Mapping the New U.S. NanoMetro Economy. The top 4 nanotechnology states are California, Massachusetts, New York, and Texas (each with over 50 entries). Three of the leading “Nano Metro” centers—San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland—are in California, the state emerging as the domestic frontrunner in nanotechnology competition. The other two—Boston and Middlesex-Essex—are in Massachusetts.

Data for the maps came from's online directory of nanotech companies; the 2007 SmallTimes Business Directory; an April 2007 Chemical & Engineering News cover story on "Building up nanotech research;" and additional research related to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies's Consumer Product Inventory.

Sadly enough, of course, Wisconsin does not appear at the top of any of the lists in the report. Here are the links to the full report and details on the data collection.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Food and nano ... perceptions of benefits are still what matters most

Michael Siegrist and his colleagues at the ETH Zuerich just pre-released findings from their forthcoming study on nano food and food packaging in Appetite. Among their findings:
"[P]articipants were hesitant to buy nanotechnology foods or food with nanotechnology packaging. Results suggest, however, that nanotechnology packaging is perceived as being more beneficial than nanotechnology foods. Results further suggest that social trust in the food industry is an important factor directly influencing the affect evoked by these new products. As suggested by the affect heuristic, affect had an impact on perceived benefits and perceived risks."
Similar to what we found for general population surveys in the U.S., Siegrist et al. also report findings that suggest that a general sense of optimism about the potential benefits of nanotechnology continues to be the central predictor of attitudes, even after other variables are taken into account:
"Perceived benefit seems to be the most important predictor for willingness to buy."

(Click here for a link to the full study.)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Deference toward scientific authority ... spillover effects for nano?

When it comes to forming opinions on controversial scientific issues, Americans often rely on a strong deference to the views of the scientific community, according to a study co-authored by a University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher published in the current issue of the International Journal of Public Opinion Research.
"Dominique Brossard, an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, says a random survey of 1,500 New York state residents shows they lean heavily on scientists as they form opinions on agricultural biotechnology.

In fact, for many citizens, deference to scientific authority serves as a convenient shortcut that replaces information from mass media or a technical knowledge of issues such as genetically engineered foods."

(Click here for the UW news release.)

What's especially interesting about Brossard's findings is the idea that this deference is developed over long periods of time, and that past media coverage of GMOs and stem cell research may have cultivated a sense of deference (or a lack thereof) among different issue-publics that will end up spilling over into the debate over nanotech and other emerging technologies. This would certainly be consistent with the findings we reported recently about deference toward scientific authority being a key predictor of nano attitudes (see Lee & Scheufele, 2006 under Recent Publications in the info bar over on the right).