The Twinkie Guide to Nanotechnology

It would probably be frowned upon in obesity-obsessed Britain, but a new outreach video presented by Andrew Maynard from the Washington DC-based Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies uses a peculiarly American snack food to help unlock the mysteries of nanotechnology.

The Twinkie Guide to Nanotechnology serves up a number of scientific, technical and environmental concepts in bite-sized morsels, but the culinary analogy goes further than this.

For those unfamiliar with American confectionary, a Twinkie is a finger-shaped sponge cake with a synthetic cream filling.

“The genesis of the talk was in a after-dinner speech to regulators and industry representatives working on the use of nanotechnology in food,” says Maynard. “My task was to give this crowd a nanotechnology primer, when all they really wanted to do was to chill out and enjoy good food and good company. So I hit on the idea of tying in nanotechnology to an iconic American food in an amusing and hopefully accessible way!”

It would be impossible to adequately describe in 300 words of print the connections between this dentists’ nightmare and nanotechnology, so do watch the 25-minute film for yourselves. Maynard is an articulate speaker who can effectively convey they key science and engineering concepts to a broad audience, and hold their attention without resorting to hyperbole or showmanship.

In the video Maynard describes the many benefits of nanotechnology, but at the same time he is not afraid to highlight a number of potential problems associated with the release of engineered nanomaterials into the environment.

“It’s too early to tell how successful we’ve been,” says Maynard. “But reaching out to nano consumers on their own terms, and providing them with information that will help them understand what this technology means for them, is essential if they are to play and active and informed role in the development and implementation of the technology.”

Article first published in Nanomaterials News.