In typical Daily Mail style I begin with the ever-dependable “X Causes Cancer Shock” blog post. [image by shaymus]
That’s right! The Magic Molecules of the Future or carbon nanotubes – shortly to be used in every worthwhile human pursuit from watching pornography to curing cancer – may in fact cause cancer themselves.
That is to say: a couple of studies, one published in Nature Nanotechnology and another published by The Japanese Journal of Toxicological Science suggest that certain kinds of carbon nanotubes induce lesions and mesothelioma in a manner similar to another wonder-material, asbestos.
Carbon nanotubes that are straight and 20 micrometers or longer in length–qualities that are well suited for composite materials used in sports equipment–resemble asbestos fibers. This has long led many experts to suggest that these carbon nanotubes might pose the same health risks as asbestos, a fire-resistant material that can cause mesothelioma, a cancer of a type of tissue surrounding the lungs. But until now, strong scientific evidence for this theory was lacking.
Fortunately in order to be as thoroughly unpleasant as asbestos, carbon nanotubes would need to become airborne and and be inhaled, something that carbon nanotubes are apparently not inclined to do.
As ever, more research is needed.
From a science fictional perspective: what will be the tabloid healthcare-stories of decades hence?
The problem with things like asbestos and thalidomide is that their terrible side-effects only come to light after millions of lives are damaged. And these tragedies are by definition black swans, inherently unpredictable and devastating with it.
Where is the next hubristic-but-unpredictable human-derived disaster going to come from? Carbon nanotubes? Quantum computing? Could it be something so boringly innocuous that you use it every day without thinking, whilst it eats away at every cell in your body?
I’m not talking about global warming or bird flu – I mean really out-there, mind-blowingly awful stuff we haven’t thought of yet. Stuff that’s affecting us right now that we don’t know about.
Anyway, less gloom and more cheer. Here is a funny story about a crazy luddite!