Our First Workshop

Our First Workshop

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Forum ParticipantsToday we held our first workshop on the WSF’s beautiful grounds by a river that connects to the Amazon forest. We organized the workshop as a space to discuss nanotechnology, public engagement and the technologies novel risks for humans and the environment. I presented along with professors from universities in Brazil, Spain and France. I gave an overview of what nanotechnology is and I highlighted some of the nano products Friends of the Earth has identified.

I also mentioned the fact the nanotechnology is rooted in quantum physics, which differs greatly from classical physics. This new line of science is opening the doors to new horizons in scientific thought and our lives. For example, in the quantum physical realm a particle can be in two places at once — mind blowing! Unfortunately, corporations have taken only a small portion of this new powerful thinking and they are using it to create risky products we know very little about.

We concluded the workshop with questions from the audience and a general discussion. I attempted to spur the conversation by highlighting one of the main reasons I traveled to the Forum. I am not only here to speak about nanotechnology and its technical aspects. I’m here to discuss how we can project our imagination on how to create a world where we, the people, identify what science means and how we want it to grow. Many people expressed their interests in participating in science and some of the university students present vowed to explore the subject further.

Ian's InterviewAfter the forum, I was interviewed by a local TV station. I shared in the interview my opinion that this period in history will see radical change whether we like it or not, though it’s our choice to guide that change to our benefit or to our destruction. The power of change and exploration is not only in the hands of scientists -— it’s accessible to all of us. People are beginning to understand that we are all scientists; all of us interact with science everyday. For example, when a mother gives love to her child that is a science. When a farmer grows a crop, he or she is also using science. Science is not merely technology or products, but is the search for information that can guide our lives. That search will never be solely guided by academia and those who hold a PhD.

Tomorrow, we will be back at the Forum bright and early to hold further workshops on nanotechnology. I am also hopeful that I will have time to explore other exciting activities taking place at the Forum, beyond the workshops we have organized.