Friday, March 31, 2006
Thursday, March 30, 2006
“In the course of his work as chief science adviser with the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, Andrew D. Maynard has learned that many manufacturers have been diligent about carrying out safety tests, some going so far as to have independent safety tests conducted outside the company. ‘They don't seem to have thought about telling anybody that they've done it,’ he says. ‘There is very little out there that the manufacturers have made publicly available. We find that consumers usually have to ask the manufacturer for that information. It's not something that they seem to be publicizing widely.’”
(Click here for the full story.)
(Click here for the full story.)
Sunday, March 26, 2006
"LONDON, March 26 (UPI) -- Smart casual takes on a different meaning in Britain, as synthetic computerized smart clothes monitor cardiac health, muffle smells or download podcasts.
The nanotechnology clothing can also change texture and tell a washing machine which cycle it should use. Soon smart apparel will advertise sexual availability and display its owner's changing emotions in kaleidoscopic color, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
High-tech firms such as Sony Corp., Bosch Group, Motorola and DuPont are pouring money into research and development projects involving "intelligent" fabrics.Soon, most garments may have some kind of microchip technology sewn in -- and for the sloppy, more and more clothes are including stain-resistant or spill-resistant finishes."
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
I will post more specific details once I have seen the report. But here are a few interesting findings, based on the swissinfo.com report:
“The findings concluded that people are happy to use products such as skis, but were not so keen to consume nanoparticles or put them on their skin in the form of sun lotion or cosmetics.And given the lack of federal guidelines, the following findings are not very surprising:
The science of nanotechnology could founder on the same negative publicity that dogged genetics unless more is done to assess risks, a Swiss report warns.
Researchers from the Federal Institute of Technology in
found a lack of guidelines and effort to identify potential side effects, but the Swiss authorities are working to redress the problem.” Zurich
“Only two of the 32 companies in
Switzerlandand surveyed by the institute had investigated the effects of absorption of nanoparticles by living organisms. Three-quarters admitted they had not carried out risk assessments on research or on their products. Germany
One in five had examined whether products containing nanoparticles could be toxic while a quarter did not know whether tests had been carried out.”
The other interesting aspect of this study, summarized in a separate press release on ETH’s web site: NGOs apparently have dropped the ball on this so far:
“In order to build trust, however, more information is needed–and this is where the stumbling block lies. To be sure, the view of the actors in the nano business is that it is the responsibility of the media, NGOs and governing bodies to inform the population. In reality, however, they are not fulfilling this function. ‘The NGOs don't seem to have discovered this theme, yet’ surmises [Arnim] Wiek [at ETH].
Michael Siegrist, an expert on risk perceptions and trust related to new technologies and a senior researcher at the ETH
“‘We found that lay people perceived more risks than the experts,’ he said: ‘The problem with this is that we might end up in the same situation as we had with gene technology.’
Siegrist believes communication and targeted marketing are the keys to the industry's success.
‘If the industry resists making claims they cannot fulfil and provides applications that are useful to consumers, then we could avoid the problems we had with GM [genetically modified] food,’ he said.
‘People are more prepared to accept potential risks of mobile phones than they are with GM tomatoes that have a longer shelf life.’”
Monday, March 20, 2006
Researchers at the John Innes Plant Science Research Centre used a virus that usually infects black-eyed peas to create new electronically active nanoparticles. The research was published in the journal Small.
"UK scientists from Norwich have used a plant virus to create nanotechnology building blocks. The virus, which infects black-eyed peas, was employed as a "scaffold" on to which other chemicals were attached. By linking iron-containing compounds to the virus's surface, the John Innes Centre team was able to create electronically active nanoparticles. The researchers tell the journal Small that their work could be used in the future to make tiny electrical devices. The work is yet another example of how scientists are now trying to engineer objects on the scale of atoms and molecules."
Sunday, March 19, 2006
"The idea is in some sense to turn the tables on the experts. . . . What we're doing in the citizens technology forums is instead making the deliberating panel a group of lay citizens. And the citizens get to frame the question and the way the experts address that question. And they get to make inquiries directly of the experts themselves who have the status before the citizens panel more of witnesses than of people doing the deliberating and recommending to the policy makers."CNS-ASU will conduct citizen technology forums as part of their research team on Deliberation and Participation. Among its goals:
"To develop multiple, plausible visions nanotechnology-enabled futures, elucidate public preferences – especially values from underserved communities – for various alternatives and, using such preferences, help further refine future visions and enhance contextual awareness."
(Click here for Earth & Sky radio's
complete list of nano programs.)
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
"While not comprehensive, this inventory gives the public the best available look at the 200+ nanotechnology-based consumer products currently on the market. Prior to this inventory, the figure most often cited by the U.S. government was that approximately 80 consumer products containing nanomaterials were being sold."(For a 1.1MB PDF copy of the initial report, click here.)
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
With these limitations in mind, the most interesting section is probably is the overview of Engineer/researcher compensation – global and U.S. Other findings are summarized in the press release:
"SmallTimes conducted a compensation survey of micro and nano professionals that revealed an overall trend in higher compensation and expanding job opportunities. More than 1,300 micro and nano professionals throughout the United States and 36 other countries responded.
Key findings include:
- On a global basis, the average salary in micro and nanotechnology is $84,605. In the United States, the average salary is $97,978.
- Expect those numbers to rise: 64 percent of U.S. employees received a raise in 2005, and 75 percent said they expected to receive a raise in 2006.
- Salaries are rising even faster in hot developing countries. For example, although the average micro and nano salary in India is only $15,850, a full 81 percent expect a raise of more than 5 percent in 2006."
(Click here for the complete survey results.)
Monday, March 13, 2006
"Rodents blinded by a severed tract in their brains' visual system had their sight partially restored within weeks, thanks to a tiny biodegradable scaffold invented by MIT bioengineers and neuroscientists.
This technique, which involves giving brain cells an internal matrix on which to regrow, just as ivy grows on a trellis, may one day help patients with traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and stroke.
The study, which will appear in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) the week of March 13-17, is the first that uses nanotechnology to repair and heal the brain and restore function of a damaged brain region."
(For the full Medical News Today report, click here.)
Update: Here's the link to the PNAS article.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
"So what are the nanotech community's recommendations to policymakers for maintaining competitive strength?" Scott E. Rickert asked in Industryweek.com this week. His answers read like a manual for shaping public opinion and public policy:
"First, it means you need to be engaged with your legislators on the topic. It's too important to
for any of us to sit idly by. Do you know where you can have the most impact? Get your nano-plans on the front burner -- whether you're a buyer or seller of nano-products. Your government wants and needs you to succeed!" America
These ideas, of course, are not new. In 1972, political scientists Roger W. Cobb and Charles D. Elder outlined their concept of agenda building*, i.e., the competing effors by policy makers, interest groups, journalists and other players in the policy arena to shape the dominant issues on the media agenda. And in the area of nanotechnology, some of the agenda building efforts are beginning to pay off. Scott E. Rickert reports:
"Early support of this approach is already evident in
. Senator Ted Kennedy of Washington has drafted legislation on a tax credit. With the powerhouse of MIT and other nanotechnology giants in his state, it's no wonder he's among the first to see the potential. Let's hope others -- on both sides of the aisle -- see the advantage." Massachusetts
* Roger W. Cobb and Charles D. Elder, Participation in American Politics The Dynamics of Agenda-Building.
Monday, March 06, 2006
Friday, March 03, 2006
(For a copy of the full report, click here. (requires free registration))
"The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the
for Scholars [...] is set to launch the only publicly available, online, and searchable inventory of nanotechnology-based consumer products [...]. Woodrow Wilson International Center
This inventory is intended to provide the public with a better understanding of how nanotechnology is being applied to a wide range of consumer products, the nanomaterials used, specific brands, and how many products are available for consumer use. Importantly, the number of consumer products in the inventory far exceeds previous estimates.
The event will showcase a sampling of nano products, from paint to cosmetics and high performance sporting goods. Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies experts will be available to discuss the inventory, to explain how it was compiled, and to demonstrate its use."
Scheduled Release of the Inventory:
Friday, March 10, 2006, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
David Rejeski, Director, Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies
Andrew Maynard, Science Advisor, Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies
Evan Michelson, Research Associate, Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies
"Engineering professor Dawn Bonnell, who is the director of Penn's NANO/BIO Interface Center, said that the Center fights myths by making clear definitions of nanotechnology.
Dispelling myths about the field, experts say, may stave off a backlash fueled by science fiction."
The idea behind the knowledge deficit model, of course, is that attitudes about scientific breakthroughs are to some degree shaped by what citizens know about these new technologies. And the more citizens know, the model assumes, the more likely they will be to support these new technologies.
The key problem: Empirical support for this model is mixed at best. In our most recent survey on nanotech, we found that the knowledge deficit model does not apply to nanotech at this point. Rather, audiences rely on a series of heuristics or cognitive shortcuts that are provided by mass media (see figure above). The way an issue is framed or the perceptual lenses that audiences use play much more of a role in shaping public attitudes, especially with a public that is largely uninformed about nanotech.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Of course, most respondents were probably referring to virtually invisible surveillance devices and tiny robots. Ironically, a new innovation in the area of nanotech may give citizens more rather than less privacy: wall paint that blocks cell phone signals on demand.
The Chicago Tribune reported on this new paint today, which is being developed by NaturalNano, a Rochester, NY-based company, and is based on tiny copper particles, inserted into nanotubes, that can be applied as wall paint and activated if needed. The applications are endless: movie theaters, classrooms, hospitals … and, apparently, churches.
"You could use this in a concert hall, allowing cell phones to work before the concert and during breaks, but shutting them down during the performance," said Michael Riedlinger, president of NaturalNano.
Others were much more concerned.
"We oppose any kind of blocking technology," said Joe Farren, spokesman for The Wireless Association, the leading cell phone trade group. "What about the young parents whose baby-sitter is trying to call them, or the brain surgeon who needs notification of emergency surgery? These calls need to get through."
(Read the full Chicago Tribune article here.)