Could precisely engineered nanoparticles provide a novel geoengineering tool?

September 13, 2010

This is an extremely quick and dirty blog post, as I really need to be somewhere else.  But while traveling to the World Economic Forum meeting in China today, I came across a new paper that piques my interest. The paper is by David Keith at the University of Calgary (published ...

What do people think about synthetic biology?

September 9, 2010

The fifth Hart survey of what American adults think about emerging technologies like nanotechnology and synthetic biology was released today by my former colleagues at the Woodrow Wilson Center – the first since I left the group earlier this year. Each summer for the past five years, the Wilson Center has ...

Rethinking nanotechnology – responding to a request for Information on the US Nanotechnology Strategic Plan

August 30, 2010

Back in July, the US National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) posted a Request For Information in the Federal Register for input to the next NNI strategic plan – to be published later this year.  The closing date for comments was a couple of weeks ago now.  I got mine in in ...

Knitting science

July 25, 2010

Sitting in a meeting on informal science education recently, I was intrigued to see a respected academic working on her knitting.  And she wasn’t the only one.  Now I may have had a something of a sheltered life, but in over twenty years of attending scientific conferences and workshops, I ...

The safety of nanotechnology-based sunscreens – some reflections

July 18, 2010

A few weeks ago, I set Friends of the Earth a challenge – What is your worst case estimate of the human health risk from titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide nanoparticles in sunscreens? The challenge came out of an article from FoE on nanomaterials and sunscreens, which I subsequently critiqued on ...

I’m A Scientist – where the prize money went

July 14, 2010

I love books – the old fashioned kind, printed with ink on paper.  As a kid, books were my source of education, inspiration and entertainment.  As an adult, I still find there’s something oddly satisfying about picking up a sheaf of printed and bound pages and immersing myself in ...

Texas Instruments Graphing calculators – essential math teaching aid, or a scam?

July 11, 2010

Last September regular readers of 2020 Science will recall that I was somewhat taken aback at having to fork out $100 for a Texas Instruments graphing calculator as my son started 7th grade math. One academic year on, was the purchase worth it? (Yes, despite my shock, we did reluctant acquiesce ...

ASME launches a new series of nanotechnology podcasts

July 7, 2010

ASME – the organization that used to be known as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers – has just launched a series of educational podcasts on nanotechnology that are well worth checking out. Between now and next February, the ASME Nanotechnology Institute will be posting new video and/or audio podcasts on ...

I’m A Scientist 2010 ends, and the winner is…

June 25, 2010

An hour or so ago, the final winners of I’m A Scientist, Get Me Out Of Here were announced.  To my surprise, I made it to the last two standing in the Silicon Zone yesterday, and have been on the edge of my seat today waiting to see whether I ...

I’m A Scientist – A brilliant British idea that needs to come to the US!

June 23, 2010

Today was a tough day on I’m A Scientist, Get Me Out Of Here – three live chats almost back to back, followed by the first evictions.  And believe me – even though I live to fight another day, the evictions were traumatic!  But more of that below.  At the ...

Welcome to real science!

June 19, 2010

The way science is taught, the way it’s portrayed on TV and in the press, he way it’s promoted by science-advocates and science bloggers, often seems to adhere to a rather pompous and hubristic view of science as the ultimate bastion of truth and certainty.  So it’s been rather refreshing ...

Just how risky can nanoparticles in sunscreens be? Friends of the Earth respond

June 15, 2010

Last week, I posed Friends of the Earth a challenge – “What is your worst case estimate of the human health risk from titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide nanoparticles in sunscreens?”  Georgia Miller of FoE Australia and Ian Illuminato of FoE in the US have kindly provided a detailed response.  ...

Day one of I’m A Scientist – It’s the teens who are training us!

June 15, 2010

It’s a quarter to one in the morning Eastern Time, and I’ve just polished off the last question of the day on I’m A Scientist, Get Me Out Of Here!  I should be heading off to bed, but I wanted to capture some initial thoughts on this exercise first. I’ve lost ...

A spectator’s guide to I’m A Scientist, Get Me Out Of Here!

June 13, 2010

If you want to participate in the rather fab science event I’m A Scientist, Get me Out Of Here I’m afraid you are out of luck – unless you happen to be one of the 100 scientists and 8000 teenagers taking part. But you can still get a thrill from watching ...

Just how risky could nanoparticles in sunscreens be?

June 8, 2010

Following up from my previous post, here’s an open question to Friends of the Earth: What is your worst case estimate of the human health risk from titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide nanoparticles in sunscreens? What I am interested in is a number – a probability of a specific human health impact ...

Friends of the Earth come down hard on nanotechnology – are they right?

June 8, 2010

Friends of the Earth (FoE) do not like nanoparticle-based sunscreens.  This has been evident for some years – back in 2006 the organization published the report Nanomaterials, Sunscreens and Cosmetics: Small Ingredients, Big Risks, and every year since then they have had something to say on the subject. This year’s ...

I’m A Scientist – Check out the competition!

June 1, 2010

Reading the Twitter feeds, it seems that a number of scientists participating in I’m A Scientist, Get me Out of Here have struggled with their profiles.  It’s one thing to design an elegant experiment or write a smart paper – but describing yourself in three words or telling a joke ...

The Global Redesign Initiative and the need for up-front investment in sustainable technology innovation

May 31, 2010

The global financial crisis of 2008-09 laid bare the inadequacies of global systems in an increasingly interdependent world, and highlighted the need to rethink the “architecture of global cooperation” – the idea at the core of the World Economic Forum Global Redesign Initiative.  As the World Economic Forum publishes and ...

What’s “I’m A Scientist…” all about? Check out the video

May 29, 2010

The good folks at I’m A Scientist, Get Me Out Of Here have just posted a new video on YouTube about the event.  It gives a great overview of what I’m A Scientist is all about, and what makes it special: http://www.youtube.com/v/e1T4zi-DIh8 I particularly like the comment “It’s different from a normal science ...

Nano Dispersants and nano hysteria – time to think about the science folks!

May 28, 2010

Catching up with my email after a long day off the net, I see that a group of Non Government Organizations (NGOs) are urging EPA not to allow the use of an alleged nanotechnology-based dispersant in the Gulf of Mexico.  The letter from thirteen organizations was covered in a piece ...