4 mins

Hoverboards and health: how good for you is this year’s hottest trend?

Walking across campus to my office each morning this semester, I’ve found it hard to ignore the growing number of students using hoverboards to get around. These two-wheel self-balancing boards (they don’t really hover, Back-to-the-Future-style) are one of the hottest gadgets this holiday season. As sedentary lifestyles continue to be a major underlying factor in chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease, I wondered whether these trendy two-wheelers are simply another way to avoid the exercise we all need to stay healthy. As it turns out, it’s not only their health that hoverboard users need to worry about.

1 min

Toxicologists are Freakin’ Awesome!

Risk Bites is going to be at the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering Expo this year (Saturday March 21st – be there!). I’ll be there as part of the Society of Toxicology (SOT) annual meeting, sharing the SOT stand. Given the toxicology theme, we have a special Risk Bites video for the Expo – a toxicology primer in 3 minutes for completely uninitiated.

1 min

Responsible Innovation, and the (nano) entrepreneur’s dilemma

Responsible innovation is a great concept – it embodies ideas around ensuring our inventiveness works for the long term good of society, without inadvertently throwing up more problems than it solves. But to entrepreneurs and others trying to make ends meet while launching a new product or idea, it can quickly begin to look like an ill-affordable luxury

5 mins

Researchers should take more responsibility for exaggeration in press releases

According to a new paper in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), exaggerated claims in health-related news stories — including advice that isn’t supported by evidence — may often have their roots in academic press releases and the scientists that sanction them.   The paper highlights conflicting interests in the flow of information from research institutions to end users that has ...

4 mins

Has anyone heard of BPA?

While writing a recent article on BPA-free labeling, I happened to mention the topic of bisphenol-A to a couple of smart people I know.  “bis-what?” came the response.  Thinking they just weren’t familiar with the chemical’s full name, I went on “you know, BPA – the chemical that all the fuss was about in baby bottles and water containers”. ...

8 mins

New study shows “BPA-free” labels may increase risky behavior

Products with the label “BPA-free” have become ubiquitous on store shelves in recent years.  It’s a trend that has been driven by consumer concerns that the chemical bisphenol-A, or BPA, may be harmful at low doses.  Yet a recent study suggests that the label may mislead consumers into thinking that “free” means “safer” — even when there’s a chance that the substances ...

3 mins

The low-down on vaping and health

Vaping has come of age it seems – at least according to the Oxford Dictionaries.  The word “vape”, which is synonymous with electronic cigarette use, has been selected as the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2014. So what is vaping, and what are the health risks?  Vaping does after all mimic cigarette smoking, and in many cases involves ...

9 mins

A decade of uncertainty in nanoscale science and engineering

First published in Nature Nanotechnology, 5 March 2014.  Nature Nanotechnology 9, 159–160 (2014) doi:10.1038/nnano.2014.43 [Link] Ten years after the publication of an influential report on the uncertainties in nanoscale science and engineering, are we in danger of creating a new metaphorical grey goo? In 2004, the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering (RS-RAE) in the ...

7 mins

A Scientist’s Manifesto

Four years ago I posted Professor Robert Winston’s “Scientist’s Manifesto” on 2020 Science.  Having just gone back and read this, it still resonate deeply with me – so I’m reposting it in the hope that it will also resonate with others: 1.  We should try to communicate our work as effectively as possible, because ultimately it is done ...

5 mins

Mapping global risks and opportunities in 2015

Over the next few days, I’ll be joining experts from around the world to address emerging global trends and challenges at the World Economic Forum Summit on the Global Agenda.  Framing our discussions will be the just-released Outlook on the Global Agenda 2015 – a synthesis of leading expertise from around the world on some of ...

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