Public Perception

A few Small Issues about Public Engagement on Nanotechnology

by Craig Cormick November 25, 2011

A guest blog by Craig Cormick. Over the past decade there has been a significant growth in public engagement activities relating to nanotechnology and when you look across all the data being generated you can learn a lot about how the public view the risks and benefits of the technology. That’s probably not news for [...]

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Contagion, plausible reality and public health: In conversation with Larry Brilliant

by Andrew Maynard September 14, 2011

Blockbuster movies aren’t usually noted for their scientific accuracy and education potential.  But since its release last week, Steven Soderburgh’s Contagion seems to be challenging the assumption that Hollywood can’t do science. The other day I posted a piece about how director Steven Soderburgh and screenwriter Scott Z Burns’ attention to detail and plausibility left [...]

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Spiders, silk and a transgenic goat – the complex art of science communication

by Andrew Maynard November 2, 2010

Last week while at the NISE Net network-wide meeting, I was fortunate enough to see a preview of part of NOVA’s forthcoming series Making Stuff. The series focuses on the wonders of modern materials science. But rather than coming away enthralled by the ingenuity of scientists, I found myself breaking out in a cold sweat [...]

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Culture Clash – the biopolitics of popular culture

by Andrew Maynard November 10, 2009

This is a first for 2020 Science – a plug for a meeting which I have nothing to do with!  But next month’s seminar on the Biopolitics of Popular Culture being run by the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET) looks so intriguing that I couldn’t resist! (that, and a heads-up from IEET Managing [...]

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Sunscreens and Alzheimer’s – solid science or scare-mongering speculation?

by Andrew Maynard August 25, 2009

Could using sunscreen lead to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or other neurodegenerative diseases?  The association seems far-fetched – given the amount of sunscreens, creams and lotions used every day, surely someone would noticed a link by now if it existed!  Yet a press release from the University of Ulster suggests the nanoparticles used in some sunscreens could [...]

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Geoengineering the planet with nanotechnology ice-cream?

by Andrew Maynard July 5, 2009

Scientists and engineers have their moments. But it they are hard pressed to beat art students when it comes to sheer audacious creativity. Earlier this year I received an email so intriguing I couldn’t help but follow up on it. The email was from Zoe Papadopoulou, an MA student at the Royal College of Art [...]

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Nanotechnology: Ensuring success through safety

by Andrew Maynard June 16, 2009

This month’s issue of the magazine Science & Technology takes a closer look at some of the controversies, dilemmas and decisions that will impact on the future development of the science and technology of working at the nanoscale.  Amongst the commentaries is a short piece I wrote about the importance of safety in underpinning successful [...]

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To tweet or not to tweet – social media and the scientific meeting

by Andrew Maynard June 3, 2009

Should live tweeting and blogging from scientific meetings be controlled? Back in May, Daniel MacArthur – a researcher and blogger – wrote a number of on-the-spot blogs on the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) Biology of Genomes meeting.  By all accounts a number of people were tweeting and blogging from the meeting.  But Daniel had [...]

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Culture clash: Take the 2-second two-cultures poll

by Andrew Maynard April 28, 2009

A 2-second distraction in the run-up to the 50th anniversary of CP Snow’s Two Cultures lecture:  Take the two-cultures poll (below), and see how your answer aligns with those from others: (If you can’t see the poll, click here) Now you’ve pressed the button and seen the results, here’s the background: On May 7th 1959, [...]

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In space, no one can hear you scream – unless you’re in a sci-flick!

by Andrew Maynard February 16, 2009

If you want to annoy a scientist, show them a movie that gets the little details wrong—like the fact that sound doesn’t travel in a vacuum, or biologists always have a box of Kim Wipes within arms-reach. If you want to annoy anyone else, put them in the same room with the scientist! Scientists love [...]

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Five more good books

by Andrew Maynard December 31, 2008

Science gone right, science gone wrong, science gone social, science gone political—it’s all here in five off-beat book recommendations to kick off 2009.  Ranging from Darwin’s Origin of Species to Sir Terry Pratchett’s Nation, the one thing I think I can guarantee is that you will struggle to find an odder bunch of literary bed-fellows!  [...]

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Small particles are sexy; Synthetic biologists are sexier!

by Andrew Maynard September 30, 2008

The October issue of Esquire magazine is remarkable.  Not for the world’s first e-ink cover (appearing on limited special editions of the magazine).  But because three of the five scientists featured amongst the seventy-five most influential people of the twenty first century are synthetic biologists…

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Synthetic biology and the public: Time for a heart to heart?

by Andrew Maynard September 30, 2008

So, you have a cool new science that could make a major impact on global challenges like energy, disease and pollution and you want to make sure it reaches its full potential.  What do you do?  At some point, having a heart to heart with “the public” might be a good idea.  Especially if your [...]

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