Bad Videos Are Not the Way to Teach Nanotechnology

It’s that time of year again, when the daylight lasts longer, the temperatures begin to rise and the news cycle allows for whimsical pursuits.

This means that I have noticed a new round of videos being posted on the subject of nanotech.

The Nanoscale Informal Science Education (NISE), which is supposed to educate and engage the public on the subject of nanotechnology, has apparently circulated in its most recent newsletter a video that was a runner up in the American Chemical Society’s video contest back in 2009. 

I also saw this week a video produced in 2010 for another video contest this time for something called Time for Nano.

It all starts quite hopefully with the theme music from all the Warner Brothers cartoons, but it quickly becomes apparent that it is presenting a “camera pill” technology that is ingested to take images from inside your body and somehow it is being presented as nanotechnology.

Now I have taken some what I believe to be well-deserved swipes recently at EU attempts at public outreach, and this is a prime example of what I am concerned about.

So childish and poorly informed is the approach to educating the public about nanotechnology that no one seemed to care that one of the videos submitted for a nanotechnology video competition had nothing to do with nanotechnology.

I would like to suggest that if we want to circulate a video to introduce the public to nanotechnology, let’s just all agree to use the Stephen Fry video (despite his own personal misconceptions on the topic) and happily call it a day.



IEEE Spectrum’s nanotechnology blog, featuring news and analysis about the development, applications, and future of science and technology at the nanoscale.

Dexter Johnson
Madrid, Spain