I’m a scientist… what the heck am I doing at VidCon?!

July 26, 2011

This week my teenage kids are dragging me of to the premier YouTube event of the year – VidCon.  I was foolish enough to agree to chaperone them, and now I have two days in LA immersed in a sea of one thousand YouTube celebs, fans and wannabe’s. But not ...

Seven challenges to regulating “sophisticated materials”

July 22, 2011

The materials that most current regulations were designed to handle are pretty simple by today’s standards. Sure they can do some nasty things to the environment or your body if handled inappropriately. And without a doubt some of the risks associated with these “simple” materials are not yet well understood ...

Radiation-Crazed Zombies in Anti-Vaccine Hand-Washing Health Scare – Possibly

July 10, 2011

OK so it’s a slightly misleading title, but I did want to draw your attention to the rather splendiferous Risk Science Blog. When I took over as Director of the University of Michigan Risk Science last year, I wanted to find ways of connecting researchers and students here with a broader ...

Nanotechnology – has the UK dropped the nano-ball?

July 8, 2011

I must confess to being rather saddened this morning to read Roger Highfield’s New Scientist blog on the state of nanotechnology in the UK.  Hot on the heels of reports that the company Nanoco is threatening to leave Britain for more fertile grounds, it left me wondering what has happened ...

Don’t define nanomaterials – new commentary in Nature and an early draft

July 6, 2011

One of the problems with publishing in journals like Nature is that it can get a little pricey for people to read your work if they (or their organization) don’t subscribe.  For instance, if you want to read the commentary I’ve just had published on defining engineered nanomaterials for regulatory ...

A nanotechnology regulation hat trick from the US federal government

June 10, 2011

It must be Nanotechnology Regulation week in Washington DC.  Yesterday, two federal agencies and the White House released documents that grapple with the effective regulation of products that depend on engineered nanomaterials. In a joint memorandum, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Office of Management and Budget and the ...

Responsible development of… Unobtanium?

June 4, 2011

I thought I’d post this spoof presentation for the fun of it on the responsible development of “unobtainium”, which seems to have some remarkable similarities with some other emerging technologies: If you’re a little mystified, blame David Berube – who encouraged the initial idea, and embellished it in his own presentation ...

The ultimate rules list for accepting speaking engagements

May 30, 2011

I think I might have just accepted one speaking engagement too many!  After years of patiently bearing the brunt of my grueling travel schedule, my wife Clare has finally put her foot down.  Sorry folks – if you want me to speak at your meeting, these are the new rules! After ...

International Standards Organization guidelines for evaluating nanomaterial risks – are they any good?

May 26, 2011

In June 2005, the chairman and CEO of DuPont, together with the President of the Environmental Defense Fund, co-authored an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal titled “Let’s Get nanotech Right”.  The piece called for broad multi-stakeholder collaborations to help identify and address potential health, safety and environmental issues arising ...

Australian Education Union advises against using nanoparticle-based sunscreens in schools

May 22, 2011

Last week, the Victoria branch of the Australian Education Union (AEU) passed a resolution recommending that “workplaces use only nanoparticle-free sunscreen” and that sunscreens used by members on children are selected from those “highlighted in the Safe Sunshine Guide produced by Friends of the Earth” as being nano-free.  The AEU ...

A new look for the US National Nanotechnology Initiative

May 16, 2011

A few weeks ago, the US National Nanotechnology Initiative website – www.nano.gov – underwent a much-needed facelift.  The NNI’s web portal was creaky when I was part of the Initiative several years ago now.  And it’s somewhat ironic that the world’s leading interagency initiative on one of the most prominent ...

Optogenetics and mind control – on the borders of the plausible?

May 8, 2011

Tomorrow, I will be speaking at the Marshal M. Weinberg Seminar on Optogenetic Manipulation of the Brain at the University of Michigan – not a subject I must admit that I am that familiar with.  Fortunately, there are other speakers who will be doing much of the heavy-lifting, including Karl ...

Peer review in a pool of one

May 2, 2011

Exploring new ideas, messing around with disciplinary boundaries, making unusual and innovative connections – surely that’s what cutting edge research is supposed to be about these days?  Certainly it’s something many researchers aspire to – at least on those grant proposals where “interdisciplinary”, “Multidisciplinary” and even “transdisciplinary” are essential buzz-words.  ...

Social media and science communication – the backup video!

April 27, 2011

Yesterday I have the rather odd experience of opening the media140 meeting on the impact of social technologies on science communication in Brisbane Australia – from my basement in Michigan, USA.  Skyping into the meeting, it was hard to tell whether I was making sense, or just taking the title ...

Regulating emerging technologies – Science & Public Participation top a new White House set of principles

April 16, 2011

Cross-posted from The Risk Science Blog: Back in 2007 the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a set of “Principles for Nanotechnology Environmental, Health and Safety Oversight” (no longer available on the OSTP website it seems, but you can read them in this Nanowerk article). At the ...

James Gleick’s Chaos – the enhanced edition

April 9, 2011

In 1987 I got my Bachelor of Science in physics, Prozac was launched in the US, and James Gleick published Chaos.  I don’t think the middle one has any bearing on the other two.  But the first and last are tentatively linked because, despite being completely jazzed on physics, I ...

Larry Brilliant: Enabling sustainable humanity through getting serious about risk

April 1, 2011

Cross-posted from the Risk Science Blog I’ve occasionally been accused of thinking big when it comes to Risk Science. ...

Should experts engage directly with people on current issues like the disaster in Japan?

March 18, 2011

A couple of days ago I posted a blog that noted the absence of direct information on the Fukushima nuclear crisis coming out of US Schools of Public Health. In it, I wrote As events at the Fukushima power plant unfolded, I assumed – rather naively as it turns out ...

Tracking information on radiation health risks in Japan

March 16, 2011

This past few days I’ve been up to my eyeballs in tracking and responding to the developing crisis in Japan, and have not had much time to think about emerging technologies or this blog.  Much of my time has been spent on brushing up on my health physics (from 25 ...

Technology innovation and human health risk – rethinking the intersection

March 10, 2011

As anyone who has followed my work over the past few years will know, I have a deep interest in the potential benefits and risks associated with emerging technologies, and in particular whether we can swing the balance towards benefits by thinking more innovatively about risk and how we address ...