Exposure to silver nanoparticles may be more common than we thought

November 7, 2011

The past few years has seen an explosion of interest in silver nanoparticles.  Along with a plethora of products using the particles to imbue antimicrobial properties on everything from socks to toothpaste, nanometer scale silver particles have been under intense scrutiny from researchers and policy makers concerned that they present ...

Techno Hype or Techno Hope? Two panel discussions on technology innovation

November 6, 2011

I’ve been up to my eyeballs this past few weeks in stuff, and haven’t had as much time as usual to post here.  So this weekend I thought I would take the easy route and post a couple of videos from the recent Symposium on Risk, Uncertainty and Sustainable Innovation. These ...

New US federal strategy for nanotechnology safety research released

October 20, 2011

The latest iteration of the US National Nanotechnology Initiative’s Environmental, Health and Safety Research Strategy was released today – downloadable from nano.gov. A draft of the document has been on the streets since last December – this version was compiled after a public comment period on that draft that closed ...

EC adopts cross-cutting definition of nanomaterials to be used for all regulatory purposes

October 18, 2011

The European Commission had just adopted a “cross-cutting designation of nanomaterials to be used for all regulatory purposes” (link). The definition builds on a draft definition released last year, but includes a number of substantial changes to this. Here’s the full text of the definition: 1. Member States, the Union agencies and ...

US National Nanotechnology Initiative to release latest Environmental, Health and Safety research strategy, Oct 20

October 15, 2011

This coming Thursday (Oct 20 2011), the US National Nanotechnology Initiative is releasing the latest version of the Initiative’s federal nanotechnology environmental, health and safety research strategy.  The strategy will be available for download from 10:00 AM Eastern time, with a webinar on the release being held between 12:00 PM ...

New models needed to master technology trends – World Economic Forum

October 10, 2011

In his opening remarks at this year’s Summit on the Global Agenda, World Economic Forum founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab placed the need for new models to support effective use of technology innovation firmly on the table. This is the fourth year I have participated in the World Economic Forum ...

Inspiring teachers – a blast from the past

October 7, 2011

Two years ago, I wrote a piece about ten things that inspired me to become a scientist. One of those was my high school teacher.  We never kept in touch, but through the miracle of the web, that post eventually came to his attention, and we connected again. The other day ...

Emerging technologies and sustainability: What’s risk got to do with it?

September 24, 2011

Question: What do you get if you place some of the leading thinkers and practitioners in the fields of technology innovation, risk and sustainability in the same room for two days? Answer: one whopping headache! Not because of the confusion and cacophony, but because of the overwhelming volume of information, ideas and ...

Contagion, plausible reality and public health: In conversation with Larry Brilliant

September 14, 2011

Blockbuster movies aren’t usually noted for their scientific accuracy and education potential.  But since its release last week, Steven Soderburgh’s Contagion seems to be challenging the assumption that Hollywood can’t do science. The other day I posted a piece about how director Steven Soderburgh and screenwriter Scott Z Burns’ attention to ...

Cool science: The Charlie McDonnell Effect

September 11, 2011

There’s been quite a bit of chatter about the “Brian Cox Effect” in the UK recently, as interest in science seems to be on the rise.  But I haven’t heard anyone talking about the “Charlie McDonnell Effect”. Maybe it’s because Charlie appeals more to a growing movement of teens who just ...

Define nanomaterials for regulatory purposes? EU JRC says yes.

September 6, 2011

Cross-posted from The Risk Science Blog: In a recent letter to the journal Nature (Nature 476; 399), Hermann Stamm of the European Commission Joint Research Centre Institute for Health and Consumer Protection (JRC-IHCP) defended the need to define engineered nanomaterials for regulatory purposes. The letter, titled “Nanomaterials should be defined”, was ...

The public and peer review literature: Pearls before swine?

September 5, 2011

This morning I sat down with my 14 year old son and asked him what area of science caught his interest especially.  He answered “the future of space exploration”. We carried out a search on the Web of Science for “future + space + exploration”, and the fifth article returned ...

“Social Media makes us more”

August 29, 2011

Following on from my post a couple of days ago on teens and social media, I wanted to post this highly eloquent response to some of Susan Greenfield’s remarks about social media and society.  It’s from Francisco of the YouTube collab channel Fellowship of the Ning, and directly addresses the ...

Social Media messed-up teens reveal all

August 24, 2011

Is social media messing up today’s teens?  Adults, it seems, love to pontificate on the benefits and ills of emerging internet-based communication platforms  on young people. But how often do they bother to listen to the teenagers they claim to be concerned about? Well, this is their chance. Over this past week, ...

Is the UK facing a second generation brain drain?

August 20, 2011

In 2000, I moved to the US with my wife and two children to take up a research job here – becoming part of the migration of science, technology and engineering expertise out of the UK.  Eleven years on, my kids want to go back to the UK to university. ...

Want to know about teens and social media from the horses mouth? Watch this space

August 15, 2011

If you are a teen who uses YouTube (or know of one – maybe even your own teenager), please think seriously about posting a response to this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SC2UaAkkG_A (You can also watch it directly on YouTube here). Over on the Risk Science Blog, I’ve just posted a piece about Baroness Susan Greenfield’s ...

What was worrying us about nanotechnology safety seven years ago?

August 9, 2011

In 2004, the first International Symposium on Occupational Health Implications of Nanomaterials was held in Buxton in the UK.  Seven years later, I’m preparing for a discussion panel at the fifth meeting in this very successful community-led series (being held this week in Boston MA), and looking through the research ...

Would You Lick Jam Off An Old Man’s Foot? and other important science questions

August 8, 2011

Would You Lick Jam Off An Old Man’s Foot Or Drink Toilet Water For An Hour? Can you explain how gravitons can escape a black hole?  Or do you have a good answer to the question “why are people annoying?” This is just a sampling of some of the more entertaining ...

Frying your brains on information overload: Old perspectives on a new issue

August 3, 2011

Living online is changing our brains – at least according to Baroness Greenfield in an interview posted today by New Scientist. Leaving aside questions over the extent to which Greenfield’s concerns are driven by misapprehension or plausibility, the interview put me in mind of a rather wicked quote that appeared in ...

The science of VidCon – Connecting with Science & Engineering through YouTube

August 1, 2011

Where I cover science at this year’s VidCon YouTube convention, take a look at science and engineering more broadly on YouTube, and suggest that for next year’s VidCon the organizers should bring together some of the leading science projects on YouTube with grass-roots science-advocates like Charlie McDonnell and Hank Green.  ...