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Press Release - 05 September 2007

Science of nanotechnology explained in a Bath pub

A scientist working at the cutting edge of nanotechnology research will describe to Bath pub-goers how creating structures almost 80,000th the width of a human hair could revolutionise our lives.

Speaking at next week’s Bath Science Café in The Raven Pub on Queen Street (7.30pm, Monday 10 September 2007), Professor Neil Champness from the University of Nottingham will also explain why Prince Charles’ concerns over the technology are needless.

Nanotechnology refers to the study of things on the scale of one-millionth of a millimetre – the amount a finger nail grows every second.

“Nanotechnology is already around us; the average mobile phone has 100 milligrams of nanoparticles inside the screen which, for something so small, is quite a lot,” said Professor Champness.

“We can also see nanoparticles being used today in sun creams and self-cleaning windows.

“A major potential for nanotechnology lies in how it could be applied to computing technology in the future.

“In theory you should be able to create a structure the size of a grain of sand which could digitally store everything that has ever been written, which could revolutionise the future of computing.”

Claims by environmentalists that swarms of rogue "nanomachines" could one day reduce all in their path to "grey goo" led Prince Charles to warn of nanotechnology’s risks.

“Prince Charles picked up on these ideas published by a scientist decades ago, all of which remain firmly rooted in science fiction,” said Professor Champness.

“Scientists have been at the forefront of examining the potential health and safety implications of this technology, including a report by the Royal Society calling for more research on this area.

“This also feeds into a debate on how research is funded and who makes decisions on the areas of science we follow.

The Bath Science Café is an ongoing series of monthly events where some of the country’s leading scientists talk informally about their research.

The event will be held in The Raven Pub on Queen Street in Bath’s city centre. No tickets or reservations are required – just turn up at 7.30pm for an 8pm start.

Organisers will ask for a small voluntary donation to cover travel costs for the speakers.

To register for email alerts about forthcoming Bath Science Café events, contact Melissa Spielman.

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