Who really cares about nanotechnology?

(Nanowerk Spotlight) You might think that with all the buzz that nanotechnology creates among insiders (mostly scientists) there would be a rising awareness and interest among the general public. Apparently not so. If internet search engines are an indication for the general interest then nanotechnology is not a big issue yet.
If you have no idea what nanotechnology is and wanted to find out about it, chances are you start by typing the word into your favorite search engine.
Google just rolled out a new toy called Google Trends. It allows you to check the relative popularity of a search term and how often it has been searched for on Google over time. Google Trends also displays how frequently the search term has appeared in Google News stories, and which geographic regions have searched for them most often.
Comparing the search term "nanotechnology" with "biotechnology" provides an interesting result: There has been, and still is, much more interest in biotechnology than nanotechnology. For the search term "nanotechnology" the trend seems to be downward, not upward as you might expect. And in 2006, as for the most part of 2005, there clearly has been more interest in even something as narrow as "solar energy" than in "nanotechnology".
Nanotechnology-based products have impact (Seattle Post Intelligencer - Nov 8 2004) Report examines safety of nanotechnology (Dominican Today - Jan 11 2006)
NanoMarkets Releases Two White Papers on Nanotechnology and Its Impact on the Pharmaceutical Industry (PR Newswire - Feb 23 2005) >Nanotechnology Raises Health Questions (WTOP - Apr 13 2006)
More research needed on nanotechnology risks (Orlando Business Journal - Dec 12 2005) Nanotechnology is the "future," comptroller tells conference (Bizjournals.com - May 16 2006)
In addition to the search volume trend Google provides a trend of how often the search term was referenced in Google news. As a neat detail, it associates spikes in that trend curve with individual news topics. Maybe indicative for the things to come, three of the six highlighted news spikes for nanotechnology deal with risks and concerns.
Google Trends also gives a geographical breakdown of where searches originate. As for the question "who really cares about nanotechnology?" – take a look at this chart (the geographical breakdown for the search term "nanotechnology"):
This was by no means a scientific analysis but it certainly is an interesting observation. Way to go, nanotechnology...
Michael Berger By – Michael is author of three books by the Royal Society of Chemistry:
Nano-Society: Pushing the Boundaries of Technology,
Nanotechnology: The Future is Tiny, and
Nanoengineering: The Skills and Tools Making Technology Invisible
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