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Columbia Hosts 'Nano-Day in New York'

Bill Nye, "the Science Guy," peers through a model of a molecule with Columbia graduate students Priya Dasgupta (left) and Gordana Dukovic.
Credit: Photo by Diane Bondareff

About 500 New York City high school students bucked the trend on one of the first beautiful Saturdays of spring: instead of spending time outdoors, they participated in a daylong symposium on the frontiers of nanoscience and nanotechnology.

The recent event -- dubbed "Nano-Day in New York" -- was jointly hosted by the Columbia University Nanocenter and City College of New York, in collaboration with Barnard College and Rowan University and took place on the CCNY campus.

Students from 70 schools spent the morning of April 17 listening to presentations by leading scientists: Nobel laureate Horst Stormer, Columbia professor of physics and applied physics; James T. Yardley, director of the University's Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center; and TV's Bill Nye the Science Guy, among others. New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke via videotape.

Interactive exhibits, as well as lab tours, filled the afternoon schedule. Students learned about such nano-related activities as Columbia's summer science program for high school students on nanoscale materials, the opportunities for women in engineering and how nanotechnology is used in spinal fusion. The event wasn't all work and no play, however. Music by TLC and Pink pumped through the sound system, and Bill Nye spent the better part of his afternoon autographing Nano-Day T-Shirts.

Bronx high school students Rosemarie Delarosa and Shardae Watson; Nobel laureate Horst Stormer, Columbia professor of physics and applied physics; and Wendy Crone, University of Wisconsin professor of engineering physics.
Credit: Photo by Diane Bondareff

"I want to be a mechanical engineer," said Shardae Watson, 15, a sophomore at the Academy of Mt. St. Ursula , located in the Bronx. "Since I don't know a lot about this right now, I'm hoping this can give me some guidance." Moments later, Horst Stormer ambled by, and the Nobel laureate chatted with Watson about the connection between mechanical engineering and nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology is an interdisciplinary field that brings together areas such as engineering, chemistry, physics and biology into a new realm of research activity at the atomic, molecular or macromolecular level to create new and improved structures, devices and systems, ranging from more effective water filtration to better targeted cancer treatments.

"Nanotechnology has given us the tools to play with the ultimate toy box of nature: atoms and molecules," Stormer said. "Everything is made from these, and the possibilities to create new things seem limitless."

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Published: May 04, 2004
Last modified: Jan 10, 2005

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