31 July 2000
For immediate release
Nobel Prize-winner Prof Sir Harry Kroto talks about nanotechnology
Imagine a machine no larger than a human cell that could be injected into the body to combat disease, or a computer a billion times faster than any that that currently exists. It sounds the stuff of science fiction, but we are on the verge of a technological revolution that will radically change the landscape of our lives.
Nanotechnology is the process of manipulating atom molecules to make microscopic devices. Although it is still at the test-tube stage, scientists expect commercial manufacture to take off within the next decade.
On August 11, 2000, Nobel prize-winner Prof Sir Harry Kroto, a chemistry professor at the University of Sussex, will be discussing the implications of nanotechnology in The Next Big Thing, a series of television programmes made by the Vega Science Trust (based at the University) and the Open University.
The programme will feature Sir Harry talking with other leading scientists about how nanotechnology will make the silicon chip redundant in terms of miniaturisation. Sir Harry was awarded the Nobel prize in 1996 for his joint discovery of a form of carbon called fullerene. His research involves studying the properties of fullerene (also called 'buckyballs' for its football-shaped appearance) to create nanotubes - stable atomic structures that are central to nanotechnology.
The Next Big Thing series, which runs until September 15, is addressing important issues for science and society. Future programmes will look at our understanding of personality, defying disease, the quest for alien life forms and how we should assess scientific risk factors (e.g. warnings about BSE).
Chris Ewels, head of technical development for the Vega Science Trust, said: "This series is aimed at introducing a level of debate and giving the public some real information so that they can make informed decisions about the moral and ethical implications of science research."
The Next Big Thing: Nanotechnology, will be shown on August 11, 2000, at 12.30am on BBC2.
Notes for editors
For further information, please contact Chris Ewels at the Vega Science Tust on 01273 877293, or Jacqui Bealing, Press and Communication Office, University of Sussex, Tel. 01273 678888, Fax 01273 877456, J.A.Bealing@sussex.ac.uk.
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