Nanosciences for the general public

Members of the public recently had a chance to learn more about the nanosciences and the activities of the SNI at two different events. The first consisted of an SNI stand at the May market in Lenzburg, offering visitors a wealth of information and activities. For the second, Dr. Kerstin Beyer-Hans put together a nanosciences program for the SamstagsUni course series offered by Volkshochschule beider Basel, involving numerous SNI members.

At the Lenzburg May market, a wheel of fortune and the chance to win a prize attracted countless visitors to the SNI stand, where they were given general information about the nanosciences, the Canton of Aargau’s commitment to nanotechnology, and a selection of the SNI’s research activities. A puzzle requiring participants to match electron microscope images of pollen to the correct plant challenged visitors of all ages. Those with a little more time on their hands conducted a small experiment demonstrating how paper testing systems work.

“It was very satisfying for us to see how interested people are in the nanosciences, and to offer them a glimpse into the world we work with on a daily basis. After a long day in Lenzburg, a few more people had learned that a nanometer is a millionth of a millimeter,” said Christian Schönenberger of his team’s efforts.

For those with more of an appetite for in-depth science, eight professors from the SNI network spent four Saturdays lecturing on various areas of the nanosciences in Sissach as part of the SamstagsUni course series. Participants were given a sense of the true meaning of the term “nano”, what innovations nanoscience will bring in areas such as medicine, biology, chemistry, material sciences, and IT, and how Switzerland is going about the task of regulating these new technologies to forestall any potential risks.