Pop Science?

One of the biggest problems of working in nanotechnology is that most people outside the academic world don’t have a clue what you are talking about. A lot of people inside the ivory towers don’t either. At a recent wedding I sat next to a prominent academic researcher involved with alternative energy, who told me that he had never heard of nanotechnology and therefore it had nothing whatsoever to do with energy,otherwise he would know. A few years ago a prominent venture capitalist told me with fist banging certainty that “there are no applications of scanning probe microscopy to biology, whatsoever!” Perhaps I’ve been trying to explain things to the wrong people?

Next time I’m at a wedding I’ll take a packet of Mentos with me. As Andrew Maynard demonstrates here, the importance of size to chemical reactions can be easily demonstrated using some diet coke, some Mentos and a few kids. As the reaction can produce a jet up to ten metres high (according to New Scientist), I’ll make sure I do it outside.

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