Thursday, July 31, 2003

Don't hate me because I'm nano-beautiful

This recent New York Post story had me thinking about beauty.

Small Times reported last year that nanomaterials had been used in cosmetics for years (L'Oreal has had them in products since 1995, despite the Post's assertion that, "Even big names like L'Oreal are getting into the act."). So now, with renewed debate surrounding what is not known about nanoparticles, the fact that nanoscale zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are used in some brands of cosmetics and sunscreen is continuously juxtaposed with news reports about the controversy.

In this cursed and wonderful age of Google, whose spawn is quick access to information but ad nauseaum repetition of often questionable factoids, the L'Oreal lore has circled the globe more than a few times, ripped from its original context. It's the most-easily-available piece of information about how consumers connect to nanotech today and a reporter doesn't need to expend very much energy to find it, so it gets plopped into a news story about potentially dangerous nanoparticles. Is there any evidence, or even suspicion, that consumers who have used L'Oreal's chock-full-o-nanocapsules line of cosmetics for the past eight years have been harmed in any way? Uh … no … But, you know, they have "nanostuff" in them. Isn't that creepy?

Meanwhile, in the world of real nanoscience, Great Britain just named a panel of advisers to look into potential benefits and problems associated with nanotech. The list of names can be found here.

U.S. News and World Report's James M. Pethokoukis continues his analysis of the Greenpeace nanotech report with another column today, Turning green over nanotech. The controversy is still on the European Union's radar, as you can see in this report, Nanotechnology: Public debate takes off and the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology offered what it called a "qualified endorsement" of Greenpeace's report.

Oh, and to those who paid attention to my previous rantings on Shimon Peres and nanotech, CNet ran an interview with the former Israeli leader. He doesn't mention nanotech, but it is a window into how he thinks about technology and its role in national economic health and regional stability: A high-tech bridge to Middle East peace?


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