Public discourse about nano-related issues
The public discussion about the chances and risks of nanoproducts has started only recently and is subject to change as new ideas add to existing conceptions. The Leibniz Research Alliance Nanosafety deals with the question of how the public can be supported in the formation of an informed opinion on this recent and ambiguous research area. While it promises to innovate science in a way that will facilitate greater control of natural processes that affect our very lives, it causes anxiety and vague concerns about safety issues. Therefore, it is vital to further public discourse by creating opportunities to communicate and exchange information and opinions about nanosafety. This can be realised using digital and traditional media (e.g. the internet and television), or by mounting topic-specific exhibitions in museums. Both approaches try not only to impart factual knowledge but also to encourage people to deepen their understanding of complex and controversial issues.
Establishing an infrastructure for the management of nano-research data and building an ontology for information retrieval
Research data are regarded as a national treasure. They are obtained laboriously in elaborate settings, mostly supported by public funds. It is, therefore, crucial to save valuable data permanently in order to make them reusable and accessible to the (professional) public and future generations of scientists. In this process, research data centres storing registered records ought to become an integral part of a networked information infrastructure which aims for retrievability.