Elon Musk’s new master plan will take more than advanced tech to pull off

Elon Musk's new master plan will take more than advanced tech to pull off

Elon Musk – CEO of Tesla Motors – has just revealed the second part of his master plan for the company. And it’s a doozy. Not content with producing sleek electric cars (which to be fair, was only ever a stepping stone to greater things), Musk wants to fundamentally change how we live our lives. ...

8 mins

How risky are the World Economic Forum’s top 10 emerging technologies for 2016?

How risky are the World Economic Forum’s top 10 emerging technologies for 2016

Take an advanced technology. Add a twist of fantasy. Stir well, and watch the action unfold. It’s the perfect recipe for a Hollywood tech-disaster blockbuster. And clichéd as it is, it’s the scenario that we too often imagine for emerging technologies. Think superintelligent machines, lab-bred humans, the ability to redesign whole species – you get ...

6 mins

Guiding “questions” for science communication – personal reflections

Science communication guiding principles

A few days ago, I was asked to articulate my “rules” for effective science communication. I don’t actually have a check-list for developing science communications (and I’m not sure that a rigid check list would be such a good idea).  But I do have an informal (and until now not clearly articulated) framework that informs ...

3 mins

What’s the latest on carbon nanotube safety?

Single walled carbon nanotubes

Just a few years ago, carbon nanotubes were front and center of discussions around the safety of engineered nanomaterials.  These days, not so much. So what happened?  Did we do the science and discover that they’re just as safe as any other form of carbon? Or did they simply slip off the safety radar? In ...

1 min

How to give the perfect scientific presentation

How to give the perfect scientific presentation

Too often, it seems, the mark of a “good” scientist is the ability to give an excruciatingly embarrassing and incomprehensible scientific presentation – the sort of presentations that litter academic conferences. Borne out of long-standing frustration, I posted a tongue-in-cheek 12-point plan for the “perfect” presentation on Twitter yesterday: How to give the best scientific ...

8 mins

Nanoparticles in baby formula: should parents be worried?

Nanoparticles in baby formula

There’s a lot of stuff you’d expect to find in baby formula: proteins, carbs, vitamins, essential minerals. But parents probably wouldn’t anticipate finding extremely small, needle-like particles. Yet this is exactly what a team of scientists here at Arizona State University recently discovered. The research, commissioned and published by Friends of the Earth (FoE) – ...

With carbon nanotubes in the news again, where’s the public interest in possible risks?

Back in 2008, carbon nanotubes – exceptionally fine tubes made up of carbon atoms – were making headlines. A new study from the U.K. had just shown that, under some conditions, these long, slender fiber-like tubes could cause harm in mice in the same way that some asbestos fibers do. As a collaborator in that ...

1 min

Peanut allergy – what does the LEAP study tell us?

Peanut allergy continues to increase, and affects an estimated 1% – 3% of the population in Western countries.  Yet we’re still not clear what the cause is. A recent British study though is indicating that exposing infants to peanuts early in their life can – surprisingly perhaps – decrease the chances of them later developing an allergy. ...

9 mins

Public universities must do more: the public needs our help and expertise

Public universities must do more

The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, has been in the national headlines for months, culminating in its central role at a recent debate in the city when Democratic presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton slammed government officials for dismissing the health of residents. Sadly, not every marginalized community can depend on a political debate ...

Three ways advanced genetic engineering could help address Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases

Three ways synthetic biology could annihilate Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases

In just a few short weeks, Zika has shot from being an obscure infection to a headline-hitting public health disaster. The virus is spreading rapidly across the Americas (and potentially beyond), is suspected of being associated with birth defects that affect brain development and currently has no specific vaccine or treatment. Understandably, scientists are scrambling ...

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