Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Info in a nanoshell


I like to tell my colleagues, critics and interview victi ... I mean, subjects ... that I try to let as large an audience as possible in on our little nano secrets. Much of what I write -- especially on this blog -- is tailored for a general-interest audience, while also being careful not to oversimplify and alienate my more-educated readers. It's a tightrope I walk between these two worlds.

halasmovieThen, I see how the real experts do it. Over at PBS, they make NanoBot seem as dry as "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer." The "Nova Science Now" Web site accompanying tonight's segment about nanoscientist Naomi Halas and her amazing, even explosive, nanoshells is a lesson in simple communication. The site says more in only a few well-placed words and interactive elements than all of the blustery, blowhard, unnecessary, repetitive and redundant verbose verbiage I read in most of the nano publications out there.

Here, for example, is how they explain nanoshells:

    "Nanoshells are hollow silica spheres covered with gold. Scientists can attach antibodies to their surfaces, enabling the shells to target certain cells such as cancer cells. In mouse tests, Naomi Halas's research team at Rice University directed infrared radiation through tissue and onto the shells, causing the gold to superheat and destroy tumor cells while leaving healthy ones intact."

Crystal clear. The copy does not try to impress me with an "I know more than you do" attitude and use of "insider" lingo that means nothing to any kind of audience that simply wants to be informed.

I bow to the superior skills of PBS's writers and designers. Public TV for the public. Hey, that sounds like a good idea.


Anonymous said...

The green "cancer nanotech" image is taken from the cover of my book Cellular Computing. I'm assuming they got permission to use it from Anatoli Melechko and Timothy McKnight...

Howard Lovy said...

Hmmm. Well, I never asked permission from PBS to steal it. I hope AM and TM will let this one pass. ...