Do we need a better definition for synthetic biology?

July 10, 2014

Jim Thomas of the ETC Group has just posted a well reasoned article on the Guardian website  on the challenges of defining the the emerging technology of “synthetic biology”.  The article is the latest in a series of exchanges addressing the potential risks of the technology and its effective regulation. Alleged use of synthetic biology ...

Can using sunscreen increase your risk of dying?

July 9, 2014

Sunscreen (non)sense A recent comment on the Risk Science Center Facebook page asked whether we could help make sense of this article, posted on the website realfarmacy.com a few days ago: Scientists Blow The Lid on Cancer & Sunscreen Myth, July 5 2014 The article cites a piece in The Independent, which in ...

Does reading science blogs decrease nanotechnology knowledge?

July 8, 2014

A recent paper in the journal Science Communication suggests, amongst other things, that reading science blogs leads to a decreased factual understanding of nanotechnology, and that the effect is greater for readers with lower socioeconomic status (SES).  The paper by Su et al. (Leona Yi-Fan Su, Michael A. Cacciatore, Dietram A. Scheufele, Dominique ...

Step by step guide to making a Risk Bites video

July 7, 2014

Just for the fun of it, I decided to live-tweet the making of the previous Risk Bites video (Five things worth knowing about nanoparticles and sunscreens – posted June 15 2014). The whole six and a half hours from finalizing the script ...

US Federal Government nanotechnology EHS research progress review

July 7, 2014

A couple of weeks ago, the US National Nanotechnology Initiative released a progress review on its 2011 nanotechnology environmental, health and safety research strategy. This progress review provides a useful and timely update on activities and outputs across the federal government addressing the environmental, health and safety implications of engineered nano materials. The ...

Nanoparticles and food

June 29, 2014

Mother Jones recently published an article on an apparent upsurge use of engineered nanoparticles in food that was somewhat misleading in places.  I take the piece to task here, pointing out that the particles highlighted – predominantly titanium dioxide particles – have been used in food products for decades.  However, ...

FDA releases new draft guidelines on nanomaterials safety and regulation

June 29, 2014

The US Food and Drug Administration have just released new guidance for industry on nanomaterials in cosmetics – the guidance can bee accessed here.  The new guidance document is intended to assist industry and other stakeholders in identifying the potential safety issues of nanomaterials in cosmetic products and developing a framework ...

Five things worth knowing about nanoparticles and sunscreens

June 15, 2014

Each year for the past several years it seems, the issue of whether nanoparticles used in sunscreens are safe comes up – usually just before summer.  I’ve written quite a lot about this on 2020 Science in the past (check out the archives), but this year I thought I’d change things ...

Lost in Nano-Translation: Titanium Dioxide in Food Products

June 7, 2014

Recently the American publication Mother Jones published an article on the dangers of food laced with tiny metal oxide particles. The article, however, is laced with errors and misinformation. The source material for the article came from a report by the environmental organisation Friends of the Earth, an online database of ...

Responsible innovation key to the success of emerging technologies

February 25, 2014

Top ten breakthrough technologies The World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies today released its annual list of breakthrough technologies. The list highlights 10 trends in technological advancement that could offer innovative solutions to a range of pressing global challenges.  As a member of the council that compiles the ...

Last run for the Mind The Science Gap blog

November 18, 2013

After nearly two years and four hundred posts, the science communication course at the University of Michigan that feeds the Mind The Science Gap blog is coming to and end.  In between running a department, directing a research center, teaching, and actually doing research, something had to go.  And sadly, ...

Talk to the Hand: Risk Bites, six months on

May 26, 2013

From Risk Sense: Six months ago, Risk Bites launched as a somewhat quirky YouTube experiment in science communication. Twenty-seven videos on, how are things going?   Risk Bites was originally conceived as a way of pulling some rather cool insights into the science behind human health risks out of dusty halls of academia ...

Carbon nanotubes as a potent cancer promoter – new data from NIOSH

March 14, 2013

On Monday, the National Institute for Occupational Safety released new data on the potential role multi-walled carbon nanotubes play as a cancer-promoter – a substance that promotes the development of cancer in the presence of a carcinogen.  In the study, mice were injected with methylcholanthrene – a cancer initiating agent ...

Top 10 Most Promising Technology Trends 2013, from the World Economic Forum

February 14, 2013

The World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies has just published its annual list of the top ten emerging technology trends.  Based on expert assessment from council members and others, the list provides insight into technologies that have the potential to have a significant economic and social impact ...

At the frontiers of the science of health risk – five areas to watch

January 2, 2013

Cross-posted from Risk Sense This week’s Risk Bites video takes a roller-coaster ride through some of the hottest topics in risk science. Admittedly this is a somewhat personal list, and rather constrained by being compressed into a two and a half minute video for a broad audience. But it does touch on ...

On the benefits of wearing a hat while dancing naked, and other insights into the science of risk

December 23, 2012

Risk Bites – my new foray into the world of YouTube informal education – was officially launched a few weeks ago (although the transition from “unofficial” to “official” simply meant posting new videos more regularly!).  The channel is an experiment in overcoming the tedium and seeming irrelevance of much academic ...

COP18 Doha, Qatar: A positive view point from low on the totem pole

November 26, 2012

A guest post by Candace Rowell MPH. Candace is an alum of the University of Michigan School of Public Health Department of Environmental Health Sciences, and a former contributor to Mind The Science Gap.  She is currently a research associated with the Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute in Doha, ...

Open access academics: Experiments with YouTube, the Science of Risk, and Professional Amateurism

October 14, 2012

YouTube intrigues me.  Having been dragged into the YouTube culture by my teenagers over the past two years, I’ve been fascinated by the shift from seemingly banal content to a sophisticated social medium. But what has really grabbed my attention is the growth of YouTube as a unique and powerful ...

Why should I wash my hands if I only pee?

September 24, 2012

Cross-posted from Risk Sense “Why should I wash my hands if I only pee?” It’s the sort of question most parents have had to handle at some time – especially if you have pretentious kids who delight in telling you how pure pee is! It’s also the subject of the first ...

Jumping the gap between a US and UK high school education

July 29, 2012

Tomorrow, my 16 year old daughter is leaving her home in the US for the UK. She’ll be there for the next two years while she studies for her A levels.  It was a heart-rending decision for my wife and I to agree to her living apart from us in ...