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268 - You say Yes, I say Nano

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A nanotecnologia tem revolucionado nossa vida cotidiana. Porém a manipulação da matéria em níveis infinitamente pequenos pode também revelar-se muito perigosa. Saiba os prós e os contras.
by William Sutton.



WHAT IS NANOTECHNOLOGY AND WHY IS EVERYONE SO EXCITED ABOUT IT?
{yootooltip title=[At minute levels]} at minute levels - a níveis minúsculos {/yootooltip}, ordinary materials change their properties: colour, {yootooltip title=[ strength ]} strength - potência {/yootooltip} and conductivity. Nanotechnology makes carbon nanotubes 100 times stronger than {yootooltip title=[steel]} steel - aço {/yootooltip}; it turns red wine into white, makes {yootooltip title=[ beetroot juice ]} beetroot juice - suco de beterraba {/yootooltip} transparent, and replaces milk lactose with other sugars.

IT SOUNDS LIKE SCIENCE FICTION.
Do you remember Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? In the Roald Dahl story Willy Wonka’s {yootooltip title=[ chewing gum ]} chewing gum - chiclete {/yootooltip} tastes like {yootooltip title=[a three-course dinner]} a three-course dinner - um jantar de três pratos {/yootooltip}. Do you remember the miniature bio-mission in the 1960s film {yootooltip title=[Fantastic Voyage]} Fantastic Voyage - título em port. Viagem Fantástica {/yootooltip}? Or the replicator in Star Trek that creates anything you want? Nanoscience promises to turn such science fiction into science fact, revolutionising food, clothing, health and manufacturing.

CAN SCIENTISTS REALLY CHANGE THE FLAVOUR OF FOOD?
Yes. Researchers are creating consumer-designed drinks. You choose {yootooltip title=[purple]} purple - roxo {/yootooltip}, caffeine, {yootooltip title=[strawberry flavour]} strawberry flavour - sabor de morango {/yootooltip}; {yootooltip title=[ microwaves ]} microwaves - microondas {/yootooltip} release the relevant chemicals from nanocapsules; other ingredients pass through your body unused.
Chefs will one day design food at molecular level, prolonging fragile herbal flavours, to complement your wine and {yootooltip title=[ release tastes ]} release tastes - emanar os sabores {/yootooltip} at the right moment.
Food will be {yootooltip title=[healthier]} healthier - mais saudável {/yootooltip}. Samsung fridges kill bacteria with nanosilver. {yootooltip title=[ Brewers and dairies ]} brewers and dairies - produtos de cervejas e laticínios {/yootooltip} remove micro-organisms and viruses with nanofilters. Unilever hopes nanoencapsulation will produce ice cream with 1 per cent fat instead of 15 per cent.

HOW CAN NANOSCIENCE AFFECT CLOTHING?
An Oxford company {yootooltip title=[coats fabric with durable waterproof nanoparticles]} coats fabric with durable waterproof nanoparticles - pinta tecidos com nanopartículas impermeáveis {/yootooltip}, while Cornell University scientists designed {yootooltip title=[ garments that prevent colds ]} garments that prevent colds - peças de roupas que previnem resfriados {/yootooltip} and never need washing. “This is one of the first times nanotechnology has entered the fashion world,” says Professor Juan Hinestroza. {yootooltip title=[It doesn’t come cheap]} it doesn’t come cheap - não é barato {/yootooltip}, though: nanocotton costs $10,000 per square metre.

WHAT ABOUT NANOTECH'S IMPACT ON HEALTH?
{yootooltip title=[It’s staggering]} it’s staggering - é impressionante {/yootooltip}. Miniature processors make artificial body parts {yootooltip title=[viable]} viable - factíveis {/yootooltip}: {yootooltip title=[inner ears]} inner ears - ouvidos internos {/yootooltip}, retinas, even nerves. Soon nanosensors will monitor diabetics’ blood sugar, call ambulances for {yootooltip title=[the sick and elderly]} the sick and elderly - enfermos e idosos {/yootooltip}, and {yootooltip title=[assess body damage]} assess body damage - avaliar danos físicos {/yootooltip} for sportsmen and soldiers.
{yootooltip title=[To replace surgical procedures]} to replace surgical procedures - para substituir procedimentos cirúrgicos {/yootooltip}, Japanese scientists have developed a 2cm electronic {yootooltip title=[ beetle ]} beetle - besouro {/yootooltip} with {yootooltip title=[camera, forceps and drug injector]} camera, forceps and drug injector - máquina fotográfica, pinça e seringa {/yootooltip}.
Chemotherapy’s side effects have always been risky, but nanoencapsulation delivers lethal poisons directly to tumours. Other nanoparticles infiltrate tumours, and are then heated by infra-red to cauterise cancers.
Ultimately, nanocapsules could deliver medicines to any part of the body.

ARE THERE ANY DANGERS?
We simply don’t know the risks. Supporters of nanotech insist that it is natural, uses no new substances (just old ones smaller) and promises {yootooltip title=[astonishing benefits]} astonishing benefits - vantagens espantosas {/yootooltip}.
{yootooltip title=[Others disagree]} others disagree - outros discordam {/yootooltip}. Particles smaller than 100nm can cross the body’s barriers, entering {yootooltip title=[cells and blood-stream]} cells and blood-stream - células e circulação sanguínea {/yootooltip}. Metals that kill nanobacteria are being developed for food packaging; but what if they go from the packaging and enter our bodies? “Free nanoparticles {yootooltip title=[ inhaled ]} inhaled - inaladas {/yootooltip} can go straight to the brain,” says Dr Qasim Chaudhry of the UK Central Science Laboratory. “{yootooltip title=[Do the benefits outweigh the risks?]} do the benefits outweigh the risks? - as vantagens serão maiores que os riscos? {/yootooltip}”.
Animal studies show that nanoparticles may cause inflammation similar to that caused by {yootooltip title=[asbestos]} asbestos - amianto {/yootooltip}.
“Nanoparticles are highly reactive,” reports the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. “It is not yet clear whether they have a toxic impact on the body.”

WHAT'S NEXT?
By 2014, over $2 trillion will be spent on consumer nanotech worldwide, if it is not rejected by the public. {yootooltip title=[With consumers suspicious of industry’s profiteering]} with consumers suspicious of industry’s profiteering - com os consumidores que não confiam em indústrias visando lucros {/yootooltip}, it may become as controversial as Genetically Modified products. In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Violet Beauregarde {yootooltip title=[ grabbed ]} grabbed - pegou, agarrou {/yootooltip} Willy Wonka’s chewing gum. He {yootooltip title=[ warned her ]} warned her - a advertiu {/yootooltip} that it was still being tested. So {yootooltip title=[ whose fault was it ]} whose fault was it - foi culpa de quem? {/yootooltip} that she turned purple and blew up like a balloon?

{yoogallery src=[images/stories/galery/materias/ed268/] thumb=[polaroid]}

Complete the sentences after reading Futurology: You Say Yes, I Say Nano.

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