The National Academy of Sciences held this year’s Sackler Lecture yesterday at which Dr. George Whitesides presented “Nanoscience and Nanotechnology: A Portrait in Early Adolescence.” The lecture was part of the larger two-day Sackler Colloquium on Nanomaterials in Biology and Medicine: Promises and Perils in which 16 distinguished speakers participated. Despite his towering scientific credentials, Dr. Whitesides explained relatively complicated nanotechnology issues in a very uncomplicated and direct manner that made the lecture particularly interesting. From a policy standpoint, Dr. Whitesides’s most interesting observation was that “first order” issues concerning nanotechnology — such as EHS concerns in manufacturing and the environment — are not the largest potential risks posed to society by nanotechnology. He views existing science as being well equipped to address these potential concerns. Rather, the largest societal issue from Dr. Whitesides’s perspective is the potential loss of privacy that may result from the inevitably increasing information technology capabilities enabled by nanotechnology. Dr. Whitesides also opined that while he believes nanotechnology has and will provide very important and dramatic changes in a variety of disciplines, it remains to be seen whether or not it will indeed be “revolutionary” under traditional understanding.