Study finds Americans know little about nanotech

July 20, 2004 – When it comes to nanotechnology, Yankees know about as little as the British. But that hasn’t stopped the erstwhile colonists from espousing strong opinions on the emerging field.

More than 80 percent of those polled in a new U.S. study said they had heard little or nothing about nanotech, and most could not answer factual questions about it. But 40 percent of respondents predicted the field would produce more benefits than risks.

The nationwide telephone survey of 1,536 adults, conducted by North Carolina State University researchers, follows a similar survey carried out this year by the U.K.’s Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering. That poll of 1,005 adults found that 29 percent were aware of nanotech, and about 19 percent were able to give some kind of definition of it.

Despite the respondents’ optimism in the U.S. study, 60 percent said they had “not much trust” that business leaders would minimize risks to humans. That pessimism could be an obstacle to the promotion of nanotechnology, a survey leader said in a news release.


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