Seen by some as a transformative, almost revolutionary, set of technologies, nanotechnology represents a substantial investment of research dollars on the part of the U.S. government and many other governments around the world. While it has not received as much public attention as some might predict, nanotechnology has been the subject of an increasing number of news reports in recent years as its products begin to appear in the marketplace and knowledge of both its risks and its benefits grows. Part of the strategy for rolling out nanotechnology products in the United States, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere has involved a new emphasis on public communication and public engagement.

Nanotechnology can, however, be particularly difficult for nonspecialists to grasp. In short, the more that scientists and ...

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