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Surprising Science

Should We Fear Grey Goo?

The potential and excitement of nanoscale technology is undeniable, whether in aerospace materials, medical treatments or improving computer devices. But what are the risks?

What’s the Latest Development?

Nanoscale technology offers many benefits—be it in aerospace materials, medical treatments or improving computer devices, and so on—but what are the possible downsides? The classic fear is the “grey goo” nightmare, a hypothetical end-of-the-world scenario involving molecular nanotechnology. Many questions remain regarding the toxicity of nanoparticles. 

What’s the Big Idea?

But the scientific community is working hard in addressing this knowledge gap and, already, some conclusions can be derived from the data, says The Guardian. “Scientists know, for instance, that the toxic effects largely depend on type, size and shape of nanoparticles, on the amount of exposure and, importantly, on how and where that exposure occurs.” “That said, inquiring into the safety of nanotechnology is like asking a committee at the time the first computer was designed to say: ‘What is the impact of computers and IT going to be on the world in the future?'”


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