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Digital divide, nanotech, and plastics, plastics, plastics

The People's Republic of Berkeley, Calif., will be the host city of the Bridging the Divide 2005: Technology, Innovation and Learning in Developing Economies conference April 21-23. A co-production of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Microsoft nemesis the University of California, the conference will cover "technology essentials for economic development," "healthcare technology in the developing world," and "technology for communications and commerce," among other less technological subjects.

A week later, on April 30, Berkeley will welcome 1997 Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Chu, the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, as the keynote speaker for the Berkeley Nanotechnology Forum 2005: impacting societies & economies. Representatives of Envirosystems, Intel, Veeco Metrology, and Zettacore will also participate.

Berkeley is a hot spot for nanotechnology development. The U.S. Dept. of Energy is setting up its Molecular Foundry there, a research center for people to test out their ideas. Paul Alivisatos, one of the more famous nano scientists and founder of Quantum Dot, teaches at Cal. Alivisatos has also said that scientists need to engage the public and address the health risks seriously.

Chu, formerly at Stanford, went to the Lawrence Berkeley in an effort to help steer national policy on nano. One of his big obsessions is coming up with ideas for alternative energy.

A partner event to the Berkeley Nanotech Forum, titled Organic Electronics on Flexible Substrates, is scheduled for April 21 on the Stanford University campus. A joint effort of the MIT-Stanford-UC Berkeley Nano Forum and the IEEE San Francisco Bay Area Nano Council, the panel asks us to "imagine next-generation electronic devices that are printed onto flexible substrates like plastic."

What'll they think up next?