Culture clash – Probing CP Snow’s Two Cultures, part 2

May 5, 2009

Last week I asked a rather trivial (did someone say trite?) question (the 2-second Two-Cultures poll) about perpetual motion machines – as a gentle lead-up to this week’s 50th anniversary of CP Snow’s Two Cultures lecture.  So what were the results and what can be learned, if  anything, from them? First, ...

Control at the nanoscale: Smallness, strangeness and sophistication

April 29, 2009

Part 5 of a series on rethinking science and technology for the 21st century Last time in this series of occasional blogs, I made the rather bold statement that while science and technology are going to have a highly visible impact on our lives over the next few decades, progress is ...

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

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 ...

Obama’s science and technology call to arms

April 27, 2009

Just in case anyone wasn’t clear, President Obama blew away any residual doubts this morning that he considers science and technology supremely important to the future well-being of the US.  In a stirring and historic speech to the National Academies of Science (audio recording available here),  Obama laid out his ...

Science influence on Twitter

April 22, 2009

This is by way of a quick follow-on to yesterday’s post on the number of people on Twitter  following science-focused users.  As was pointed out, just logging the number of followers someone has on twitter is a poor indicator of either success or influence.  So, spurred into action, here is ...

As Twitter users skyrocket, how are the science tweeps doing?

April 21, 2009

Earlier today, David Bradley over at ScienceBase announced that his growing list of “Scientific Twitter Friends” has hit the 400 mark.  Given the recent explosion in Twitter use, I was intrigued to see how these science-types are faring in the brave new world of on-line communication, 140 characters at a ...

Control: Gaining mastery over the world at the finest level

April 16, 2009

Part 4 of a series on rethinking science and technology for the 21st century So far in this series of occasional blogs, I’ve covered coupling and communication—two of three “C’s” which together are challenging how science and technology are best used to serve society.  Now it’s the time to delve into ...

Creating order from disorder – the YouTube Symphony way

April 15, 2009

I was skeptical – really skeptical – that the folks doing the mashup could pull it off.  But I was wrong.  They managed to create something in virtual space that is quite possibly unique, and that is most definitely greater than the sum of the parts. http://www.youtube.com/v/oC4FAyg64OI I must confess here that ...

Twitter: changing your perspective on reality, 140 characters at a time

April 14, 2009

13 “Twits” Who Will Change Your Perspective on Reality Back in the days when Twitter was a mere slip of a social media service—around four months ago by my reckoning—it was a byword for meaningless web-chatter and banal exchanges.  But the service is growing up rapidly —not only in the number ...

Geoengineering goes mainstream

April 8, 2009

Twelve months ago, geoengineering seemed little more than the fancy of science fiction writers and fringe scientists.  Now, an increasing number of people are viewing it as a viable – if extreme – option for curbing global warming.  This shift was hammered home today by Dr. John Holdren, President Obama’s ...

Communication: Science and technology in a connected world

April 7, 2009

Part 3 of a series on rethinking science and technology for the 21st century I’m fascinated by the power of communication.  The idea that someone’s perceptions and actions can be changed by information received through sight, sound or touch, is rather profound.  Even more so is the idea that, through exchanging ...

Coupling: Actions and consequences in a shrinking world

April 3, 2009

Part 2 of a series on rethinking science and technology for the 21st century In the previous post in this series I introduced the idea of the three “C’s:” Coupling Communication and Control—three factors that together challenge conventional ideas on how science and technology are best developed and used within society.  ...

Building better batteries, the Chinese way

April 2, 2009

Reading yesterday’s New York Times, it seems China could well be poised to leapfrog the West in advanced battery technology (China Vies to Be World’s Leader in Electric Cars). According to the article, Chinese leaders have adopted a plan aimed at turning the country into one of the leading producers ...

What Nanotechnology Can Do for Your Average Donut

March 30, 2009

A guest blog by Dr. Frans Kampers, director of the Wageningen biotechnology center for food and health innovation (BioNT) at the Wageningen University and Research Center in the Netherlands. Using nanotechnology to make food better—it seems like a good idea, but does it have its downsides?  Questions over the safety and ...

New carbon nanotube study raises the health impact stakes

March 26, 2009

I’m looking at an electron microscope image of a carbon nanotube – as I cannot show it here, you’ll have to imagine it.  It shows a long, straight, multi-walled carbon nanotube, around 100 nanometers wide and 10 micrometers long.  There is nothing particularly unusual about this.  What is unusual is ...

Confessions of a “media hog”

March 26, 2009

There are some things they don’t cover in media training, like giving interviews while suffering from stomach flu, talking to reporters thousands of miles away while on a dodgy cell phone connection, or speaking intelligently while your three-year-old niece runs rings around your legs.  It’s probably because they come under ...

New life, old bottles: The video

March 25, 2009

A five-minute primer on the promise and challenge of first-generation synthetic biology As an addendum to the previous post on synthetic biology, the following interview from the Wilson Center provides a great overview of what synthetic biology is all about, and the potential challenges of ensuring its safe development and use: [flashvideo ...

Are we ready for synthetic biology?

March 25, 2009

A new report looks at the challenges of regulating first generation products of synthetic biology. At the J. Craig Venter Institute, scientists are on the verge of creating a living organism from “dead” chemicals, by rebooting a microbe with a new—and completely artificially constructed—genome. At the University of California Berkeley, researchers are ...

Inspiring the next generation of technologists

March 24, 2009

An interview with Dr. Kristen Kulinowski, Director of the International Council On Nanotechnology Today is Ada Lovelace Day—a day when people around the world are drawing attention to women who excel in technology.  Some weeks back I pledged, along with many others (Over 1500 at last count), to blog about one ...

Blogging the demise of science journalism

March 20, 2009

This week’s edition of Nature includes a thought provoking piece by Geoff Brumfiel on the decline of mainstream science journalism and the rise of science blogging.  The big question: Can one replace the other?  It’s a sobering read: Blumfiel paints a picture of old media in crisis—science coverage in the ...