Tag Archives: David Rejeski

3D printing and the environment (a panel discussion at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars), and new developments with metal 3D printing

I have combined two 3D printing items here. The first is an announcement from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars about an upcoming panel discussion (from the Nov. 25, 2013 announcement),

The Environmental Impacts of 3D Printing

3D printing allows for cheaper and quicker production of complex and novel items. The technology has been used by industry to build prototypes and specialized parts since the 1980s, but interest in desktop applications of the technology has increased in recent years as prices for the machines have dropped.

Proponents of the technology often cite the environmental benefits of 3D printing, though fundamental questions remain: What technologies are involved in 3D printing? How efficient are these technologies in the use of materials and energy? Does the design of printed objects reduce end-of-life options? Does more localized production reduce the carbon footprint? Will simplicity and ubiquity cause us to overprint things, just as we do with paper?

Robert Olson explored some of these questions in his article “3D Printing: A Boon or a Bane?” in the November/December 2013 issue of the Environmental Forum. The article discusses the enormous potential of 3D printing and examines the paucity of research on the environmental impacts of the technology.

Join us at the Wilson Center on Dec. 13 for an event looking at the growth of additive manufacturing and the potential environmental implications of the technology.

When: Dec. 13, 2013 from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. EST

Who:

  • Robert Olson, Senior Fellow, Institute for Alternative Futures
  • David Rejeski, Director, Science and Technology Innovation Program, Wilson Center
  • John Pendergrass, Senior Attorney & Director of the State Center, Environmental Law Institute

There is more information on the Event page.

While this panel discussion is likely to be focused on polymer 3D printing, there are other developments in the 3D printing world as per a Nov. 26, 2013 Michigan Technological University (MTU) news release (also on EurekAlert, Dec. 2, 2013),

OK, so maybe you aren’t interested in making your own toys, cellphone cases, or glow-in-the-dark Christmas decorations. How about a brake drum?

Until now, 3D printing has been a polymer affair, with most people in the maker community using the machines to make all manner of plastic consumer goods, from tent stakes to chess sets. A new low-cost 3D printer developed by Michigan Technological University’s Joshua Pearce and his team could add hammers to that list. The detailed plans, software and firmware are all freely available and open-source, meaning anyone can use them to make their own metal 3D printer.

This open access technology is being made accessible to the maker community, preferably to the highly skilled and experienced members, (from the news release),

Pearce is the first to admit that his new printer is a work in progress. So far, the products he and his team have produced are no more intricate than a sprocket. But that’s because the technology is so raw. “Similar to the incredible churn in innovation witnessed with open-sourcing of the first RepRap plastic 3D printers, I anticipate rapid progress when the maker community gets their hands on it,” says Pearce, an associate professor of materials science and engineering/electrical and computer engineering. “Within a month, somebody will make one that’s better than ours, I guarantee it.”

Using under $1,500 worth of materials, including a small commercial MIG welder and an open-source microcontroller, Pearce’s team built a 3D metal printer than can lay down thin layers of steel to form complex geometric objects. Commercial metal printers are available, but they cost over half a million dollars.

His make-it-yourself metal printer is less expensive than off-the-shelf commercial plastic 3D printers and is affordable enough for home use, he said. However, because of safety concerns, Pearce suggests that for now it would be better off in the hands of a shop, garage or skilled DIYer, since it requires more safety gear and fire protection equipment than the typical plastic 3D printer.

While metal 3D printing opens new vistas, it also raises anew the specter of homemade firearms. Some people have already made guns with both commercial metal and plastic 3D printers, with mixed results. While Pearce admits to some sleepless nights as they developed the metal printer, he also believes that the good to come from all types of distributed manufacturing with 3D printing will far outweigh the dangers.

In previous work, his group has already shown that making products at home with a 3D printer is cheaper for the average American and that printing goods at home is greener than buying commercial goods.

In particular, expanded 3D printing would benefit people in the developing world, who have limited access to manufactured goods, and researchers, who can radically cut costs of scientific equipment to further their science, Pearce said. “Small and medium-sized enterprises would be able to build parts and equipment quickly and easily using downloadable, free and open-source designs, which could revolutionize the economy for the benefit of the many.”

“I really don’t know if we are mature enough to handle it,” he added cautiously, “but I think that with open-source approach, we are within reach of a Star Trek-like, post-scarcity society, in which ‘replicators’ can create a vast array of objects on demand, resulting in wealth for everyone at very little cost. Pretty soon, we’ll be able to make almost anything.”

There is a paper and here’s a citation,of sorts,

“A Low-Cost, Open-Source Metal 3-D Printer,” to be published Nov. 25 in IEEE Access (DOI: 10.1109/ACCESS.2013.2293018)

Unfortunately I’ve not been able to locate this paper on IEEE {Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers]  Access.

Mar. 20, 2013 live webcast about synthetic biology and nanotechnology poll

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars has an event which you can attend in person if you’re in Washington, DC or can attend from elsewhere via a webcast. Here’s why you might want to attend,

Beginning in 2006, the Science and Technology Innovation Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and Peter D. Hart Research Associates have conducted periodic national telephone surveys to gauge the public awareness of and attitudes towards synthetic biology and nanotechnology.

In our latest survey, conducted in January 2013, three-fourths of respondents say they have heard little or nothing about synthetic biology, a level consistent with that measured in 2010. While initial impressions about the science are largely undefined, these feelings do not necessarily become more positive as respondents learn more. The public has mixed reactions to specific synthetic biology applications, and almost one-third of respondents favor a ban “on synthetic biology research until we better understand its implications and risks,” while 61 percent think the science should move forward.

The survey also found that, despite outreach efforts, 68 percent of respondents have heard little or nothing about nanotechnology, which indicates no change in awareness since 2009.

Please join us Wednesday,March 20, 2013, at noon to discuss the complete results from the latest poll.

Here are the specifics,

What:

Results of the 2013 national public opinion poll on synthetic biology and nanotechnology

When:

Wednesday, March 20, 2013, Noon– 1:30 PM (Light lunch available at 11:30 am) [The times listed are EDT, for those of us on the West Coast of North America,  the webcast starts at 9 am]

 Who:

David Rejeski, Director, Science and Technology Innovation Program

Abigail Davenport, Senior Vice President, Peter D. Hart Research Associates

 Where:

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars,
5th Floor Conference Room,
1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC

RSVPs and miscellaneous,

A light lunch will be served beginning at 11:30 am.

You must register to attend the event. To RSVP, please visit:

http://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/rsvp?eid=26431&pid=116

This event will be Webcast LIVE at

http://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/awareness-and-impressions-synthetic-biology-results-the-2013-poll

There is no RSVP required to view the webcast.

For directions, please visit: http://www.wilsoncenter.org/directions

Media planning to cover the event should contact Aaron Lovell at (202) 691-4320 or at [email protected]

To learn more about the Synthetic Biology Project, please visit: http://www.synbioproject.org

Governance/regulation of synthetic biology

The Synthetic Biology Project folks at the Woodrow Wilson Center have created a Synthetic Biology Scorecard and I think before discussing the scorecard I’ll provide a little background information about synthetic biology and what is being scored.

From the About page on the Synthetic Biology Project website,

Synthetic biology involves making new genetic code, also known as DNA, which does not already exist in nature.

In May 2010, J. Craig Venter announced that he had created the first self-replicating synthetic bacterial cell (my May 21, 2010 post) and this set off some alarm bells. From the Feb. 8, 2012 news item on Physorg.com,

On May 20, 2010, scientists at the J.C. Venter Institute unveiled a bacterial cell controlled by a synthetic genome. That same day, the president asked the Commission [Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues] to undertake “a study of the implications of this scientific milestone . . . [and] consider the potential medical, environmental, security, and other benefits of this field of research, as well as any potential health, security, or other risks.”

Now we get to the scorecard (from the news item),

More than a year has passed since the release of the Commission’s report. What progress has been made? The Scorecard seeks to answer that question: In addition to tracking the progress of various federal and non-federal initiatives, the website encourages broad participation in achieving the goals set forth by the Commission and invites public comment on the recommendations and implementation efforts.

“The Commission’s report was a landmark document and lays out a framework with broad applicability to many emerging technologies, but, like many reports of this type, no mechanisms were put in place to track progress,” David Rejeski, director of the Synthetic Biology Project, said. “Our goal is ensure that this report — and others like it – can drive change.”

The scorecard is here. I’ve linked to the overview which lists all of the recommendations and each one is colour-coded to indicate whether or not there has been activity to implement the recommendation. There are three colour codes, one indicating that no federal activity has taken place, one indicating that federal activity has begun, and one indicating federal activity has been completed. You can click on each recommendation to get more details about federal and non-federal activity.

Live geoengineering webcast from Woodrow Wilson Center’s Science and Technology Program

The Geoengineering for Decision Makers report is being released today during a live webcast from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars at 9:30 am PST (until 11:30 am PST, this morning, Nov. 10, 2011. From the invitation,

There is an overwhelming consensus in the scientific community that human activities are significant contributors to global temperature changes, even if other dynamics are also at work. Though there are still uncertainties about how fast the climate will change, there is substantial agreement that the impacts could become dangerous over the decades ahead. The greatest danger is that we could pass “tipping points” of self-amplifying, irreversible change into a much hotter world.

“Political decision makers are certain to face choices regarding geoengineering that will be highly controversial as well as fateful for the welfare of the nation and the planet.” says Robert L. Olson, author of “Geoengineering for Decision Makers”.

As concerns about climate change grow, strategies for intervening in the earth’s climate system – through geoengineering — have emerged. Several different viewpoints have appeared about how geoengineering should or could be developed and a number of scientists have begun to argue that geoengineering needs to be part of a larger portfolio of options for addressing climate change.

Join us on Thursday, November 10th, from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. [EST] as the Science and Technology Innovation Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center discusses their new report Geoengineering for Decision Makers

[Speakers]:

Robert Olson, Institute for Alternative Futures

Tim Persons, Chief Scientist, GAO [US General
Accountability Office]

David Rejeski, Director, Science and
Technology Innovation Program

You can go here to view the live webcast.

Synthetic biology ethics

Friday, March 25, 2011, the Synthetic Biology Project which is part of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is hosting a discussion about “The Ethics of Synthetic Biology” as per the [US]” President’s Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.” It runs from 9 am to 11 am EST. If you are in Washington, DC and can attend the event, please RSVP here (a light breakfast will be served at 8:30 am). For the rest of us, there’s a webcast and no RSVP is needed for that. Here are more details about the proposed discussion (from the event page),

In December of 2010 the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues released a new report on synthetic biology, which found “…no reason to endorse additional federal regulations or a moratorium on work in this field at this time.” Instead the Commission urged “monitoring and dialogue between the private and public sectors to achieve open communication and cooperation.” The Commission’s report is the result of six months of discussion and deliberation and advocates a principle of “prudent vigilance,” where benefits and risks are assessed both before and after projects are undertaken. The report contains 18 recommendations focused on ensuring public benefits, responsible stewardship, intellectual freedom, democratic deliberation, and justice and fairness.

The United States is not alone in its effort to craft policies for the emerging field of synthetic biology. Under the auspices of the European Group on Ethics (EGE), the European Union published Opinion No. 25 – Ethics of Synthetic Biology, recommending that the governance of synthetic biology requires a multi-pronged approach that goes beyond ensuring safety to addressing ethical, legal, and political issues in the EU and worldwide.

Join us at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on March 25th for a transatlantic discussion of the implications and governance of synthetic biology.

The guest panel includes,

- Dr. Christine Grady, Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues

– Dr. Anita Allen, Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues;

– Dr. Hille Haker (Germany). Richard McCormick S.J. Chair of Catholic Moral Theology, Loyola University Chicago (since 2010); Professor of Moral Theology and Social Ethics, University of Frankfurt (since 2005), Member European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies;

– Dr. Lino Paula, Policy Analyst, Ethics and Gender Unit, Directorate for Innovation and European Research Area, European Commission

– David Rejeski, Director, Science and Technology Innovation Program, will moderate the session

If you have the stamina and the interest, you can read the Bioethics Commission’s report and the EGE report ahead of time. On a personal note, the webcast is little early for me (6 am on the West Coast).

Voluntary regulation and oversight for nanotechnology: a review

It’s been a while since I’ve had an invite for a Project on Emerging Technologies (PEN) event. November 4, 2010, the organization will be hosting an event hosting the release of a new report (from the news release),

Join us on Thursday, November 4, 2010, at 12:30 p.m. for the release of Voluntary Initiatives, Regulation, and Nanotechnology Oversight: Charting a Path, a new PEN report by Dr. Daniel Fiorino followed by a commentary by J. Clarence (Terry) Davies.“This report is the most extensive analysis done to date of how voluntary programs can be applied to managing nanotechnology’s possible environmental and health effects,” said David Rejeski, Director of the project. “The report’s analysis and recommendations extend beyond nanotechnology to the newer generation challenges that we face as science rapidly advances.”

Given that most voluntary programmes run by governments have been deemed a failure, I’m quite interested in hearing about how voluntary programmes could be better implemented.

If you’re in Washington, DC and want to attend in person, you will need to RSVP for the event (they’re serving a light lunch at 12 noon EST) which takes place from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm EST.

The event is livestreamed in a webcast.

Site remediation and nano materials; perspectives on risk assessment; Leonardo’s call for nano and art; a new nano art/science book

The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) is holding an event on site remediation on Feb. 4, 2010 (12:30 pm to 1:30 pm EST). From the news release,

A new review article appearing in Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) co-authored by Dr. Todd Kuiken, Research Associate for the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN), Dr. Barbara Karn, Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Marti Otto, Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency focuses on the use of nanomaterials for environmental cleanup. It provides an overview of current practices; research findings; societal issues; potential environment, health, and safety implications; and possible future directions for nanoremediation. The authors conclude that the technology could be an effective and economically viable alternative for some current site cleanup practices, but potential risks remain poorly understood.

PEN’s Contaminated Site Remediation: Are Nanomaterials the Answer? features the EHN article’s authors  Kulken, Karn, and Otto on a panel with David Rejeski, PEN’s executive director moderating. PEN also has a map detailing almost 60 sites (mostly in the US, 2  in Canada, 4 in Europe, and 1 in Taiwan) where nanomaterials are being used for remediation.  More from the news release,

According to Dr. Kuiken, “Despite the potentially high performance and low cost of nanoremediation, more research is needed to understand and prevent any potential adverse environmental impacts, particularly studies on full-scale ecosystem-wide impacts. To date, little research has been done.”

In its 2004 report Nanoscience and nanotechnologies: opportunities and uncertainties, the British Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering recommended that the use of free manufactured nanoparticles be prohibited for environmental applications such as remediation until further research on potential risks and benefits had been conducted. The European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) called for further risk research in 2005 while acknowledging environmental remediation technology as one of nanotechnology’s potential benefits.

If you wish to attend in person (i.e. you are in Washington, DC), you are asked to RSVP here (they provide a light lunch starting at 12 pm) or you can watch the webcast (no RSVP necessary and I will put up a link to the webcast closer to the date).

On the topic of risk, Michael Berger has written an in depth piece about a recently published article, Redefining research risk priorities for nanomaterials, in the Journal of Nanoparticle Research. From Berger’s piece,

While research in quantitative risk characterization of nanomaterials is crucially important, and no one advocates abandoning this approach, scientists and policy makers must face the reality that many of these knowledge gaps cannot be expected to be closed for many years to come – and decision making will need to continue under conditions of uncertainty. At the same time, current chemical-based research efforts are mainly directed at establishing toxicological and ecotoxicological and exposure data for nanomaterials, with comparatively little research undertaken on the tools or approaches that may facilitate near-term decisions.

In other words, there’s a big lag between developing new products using nanomaterials and the research needed to determine the health and environmental risks associated both with the production and use of these new materials. The precautionary principle suggests that we not produce or adopt these products until we are certain about risks and how to ameliorate and/or eliminate them. That’s an impossible position as we can never anticipate with any certainty what will happen when something is released to the general public or into the environment at large.  From Berger’s piece,

In their article, [Khara Deanna] Grieger [PhD student at Technical University of Denmark (DTU)], Anders Baun, who heads DTU’s Department of Environmental Engineering, and Richard Owens from the Policy Studies Institute in the UK, argue that there has not yet been a significant amount of attention dedicated to the field of timely and informed decision making for near term decisions. “We see this as the central issue for the responsible emergence of nanotechnologies” says Grieger.

Getting back to site remediation using nanomaterials, since it’s already in use as per the map and the authors state that there hasn’t been enough research into risks, do we pull back and adopt the precautionary principle or do we proceed as intelligently as possible in an area where uncertainty rules? That’s a question I will continue to explore as I get my hands on more information.

On a completely different nano front, the Leonardo magazine has issued a call for papers on nano and art,

2011 is the International Year of Chemistry! To celebrate Leonardo is seeking to publish papers and artworks on the intersections of chemistry,
nanotechnology and art for our on-going special section on nanotechnology and the arts. Since its inception nanotech/science has been intimately connected to chemistry; fullerenes, nanoputians, molecular machines, nano-inorganics and self-assembling molecular systems all spring from the minds and labs of chemists, biochemists and chemical engineers. If you’re a nano-oriented chemist who is serious about art, an artist working on the molecular level, or a chemical educator exploring the mysteries of nano through the arts we are especially seeking submissions from you.

You can send proposals, queries, and/or manuscripts to the Leonardo editorial office: [email protected] You can read more about the call for papers here at Leblogducorps or you can go here to the Leonardo online journal.

Meanwhile, Andrew Maynard at 2020 Science is posting about a new book which integrates art work in an attempt to explain nanotechnology without ever mentioning it. From Andrew’s posting,

How do you write a book about something few people have heard off, and less seem interested in?  The answer, it seems, is to write about something else.

Felice Frankel and George Whitesides have clearly taken this lesson to heart. Judged by the cover alone, their new book “No Small Matter:  Science at the Nanoscale” is all about science in the Twilight zone of the nanoscale

– where stuff doesn’t behave in the way intuition says it should.

Drat! I can’t make the indent go away. At any rate, do visit 2020 as Andrew to read more from this posting and at least one other where he has gotten permission to excerpt parts of the book (text and images).

Transatlantic Regulatory Cooperation tidbits; TAPPI and the nanotechnology forestry conference in Alberta; a modern House of Wisdom

I caught only part of the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) event, Transatlantic Regulatory Cooperation, due to two factors. (1) I was busy posting here and so was late to the live webcast. (2) About an hour after I started watching, something (either my system choked or the Wilson Center facility was having difficulties or I lost broadband speed for some reason)  happened and the live webcast became unwatchable.

This was an international collaborative project titled, Regulating Nanotechnologies in the EU and US. Researchers from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), Chatham House, the Environmental Law Institute (ELI), and PEN at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars worked together to produce a report, a briefing paper, and a slide presentation about their findings and recommendations that can be downloaded from here.

The Washington, DC presentation was yesterday (Sept. 23, 2009) at the Wilson Center facility. There were two panels and I missed the introduction for the first group but I did recognize the moderator, David Rejeski who’s PEN’s executive director. The discussion was about the report and the recommendations.

One of the more interesting bits was the mention of a discrepancy between the UK and EU food industries submissions to some sort of inquiry. The UK representative claimed there are 2 nano type food products on the market (in the UK,  i.e. Europe) while in an earlier meeting elsewhere an EU representative claimed there are 20 such products on the market in Europe. No one was able to explain the discrepancy, which is troubling.

As for the participants in the project, there was general agreement that some sort of regulatory system needs to be developed quickly. Amongst other recommendations:

  1. Voluntary reporting of the use and manufacture of nano materials should be made mandatory.
  2. There should be a ‘technology label’ for food and cosmetic products that contain nanomaterials.
  3. A global approach to nanotechnology regulation that draws together major players such as China and India, as well as many others, needs to be adopted.

There was some mention of Canada at one point. I believe the speaker was referring to an Environment Canada initiative, i.e. a one-time inventory of nanomaterials used in manufacturing products which is mandatory. (I commented on this matter in my Feb. 3, 4, and 6, 2009 postings.) I haven’t heard anything about their progress lately but it is used as an example of a mandatory nanotechnology inventory. Interestingly, they never mention that it is supposed to be one time only.

As for the second panel (moderated by Dr. Andrew Maynard, Chief Science Advisor for PEN), this was oriented to some of the practicalities of introducing nano regulation into current regulatory environments. At least, I think that’s what it was about as things began to malfunction shortly after the introductions.

TAPPI (Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry) held a nanotechnology forestry conference in Alberta this last June. I should have mentioned it at the time but, trite as it is,  better late than never.  From today’s news item about the conference on Nanowerk,

More than 180 nanoscience experts from 12 countries met in June to discuss the potential of nano-enabled biomaterials. Held in Edmonton, AB, Canada, and co-sponsored by TAPPI and the Alberta Ingenuity Fund, the conference revealed developments for revolutionizing paper and wood products, as well as capturing sustainability-focused markets with bionanocomposites and capitalizing on wood-derived nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC) and nanofibrillar cellulose (NFC).

The 2010 conference will be held in Helsinki, Finland.

The House of Wisdom existed from the 9th to 13th centuries CE (common era) in Baghdad. Originally intended as a library whose main purpose was for the translation of books from Persian into Arabic, the House of Wisdom became a centre for the study of the humanities and sciences that was unrivaled in its time. One of its great scholars (Al-Khawarizmi) is known as the ‘father of algebra’. They invented the library catalogue where books were organized according to subjects. Note: I was recently at the oldest library at Trinity College in Dublin and the guide mentioned that those books are organized on the shelves by size, weight, and the colour of their bindings. (I got my information about the House of Wisdom here in Wikipedia and from a Nanowerk Spotlight article by Michael Berger.)

I mention the House of Wisdom because of Berger’s article which uses it as a metaphor to discuss a modern attempt to recreate the ‘house’,  this time, in Saudi Arabia. A new, 36 square kilometer,  science/technology campus/city called the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) opened yesterday on Sept. 23, 2009.

From the article,

Much more than a future elite university, the vision behind KAUST is to create the nucleus of a modern society, free from the strict religious dictates of a conservative Islamic culture, and laying the foundation for a science and technology based society of future generations.

This sounds quite ambitious for a conservative Islamic country that doesn’t have public entertainment facilities such as cinemas or theaters – they are regarded as incompatible with Islam; where most schools have focused on religion much more than on science and other modern knowledge; and where a strict interpretation of Islam imposes many restrictions on women’s daily lives.

This all is supposed to change with mega projects like the $8bn Knowledge Economic City (KEC), the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) a $26.6 billion project that will generate more than 500,000 jobs upon completion in 2016; and nearby KAUST, intended to catapult Saudi Arabia’s education system into the 21st century and prepare its society for the time after oil. This move to a knowledge-based society is a top priority for the country – in 2009 alone, 25.7% of Saudi Arabia’s budget has been allocated to educational development.

As an oil-producing country, Saudi Arabia is getting ready for a time when there won’t be any left to pump out of the ground. Do read the article as there’s much more about the facilities which, according to Berger, “… will enable top-notch nanotechnology research.”

It reminds me a little of the situation in Alberta where they are currently trying to extract oil from sand only because the oil that was easy to access is almost gone while heavily investing in emerging advanced technologies such as nanotechnology.

More about Canada’s nano information-gathering exercise

The last few days have been devoted to the ‘announcement’ by Environment Canada via the Project for Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) which is based in Washington, DC. I think I’ve adequately covered the strangeness of hearing about our new government project from a source other than our own government in the previous postings (here and here) so I’m wrapping this up with a brief valentine (of sorts) to David Rejeski, PEN director.

Rejeski has an essay on the Nanowerk website published Feb. 5, 2009 here which explains why Canada is important. I am charmed. So often Americans forget or take Canada for granted, although I am a little concerned that he’s an expat Canadian, in which case the title of the essay and final paragraph are just tacky.(Why are they tacky if he’s an expat? Because too many Canadians go down to the US to explain why Canada is important and, frankly, I think that undercuts our case.)

Rejeski’s essay does explain the reasoning behind the recent move by Environment Canada and places it in a context that includes the US, Britain, and France. I do wish there were more details from Environment Canada but there are those restrictive communication policies that were put in place in Feb. 2008.

Final thoughts on Canadian Wire’s nanotechnology articles written by John Cotter.  The fact that a single article is used uncritically by so many media outlets points to a problem: corporate concentration of ownership. It is not new. My textbooks in the mid-1980s had data from the 1970s at least (memory fails, the trend may have started earlier) showing this trend. Since then it’s only intensified especially since the media conglomerates in Canada (don’t know about anywhere else) can have a single reporter gather info., write it up, and present content to be used in newspapers, radio. and tv. (I think that was a new policy that was adopted sometime after 2000.)

It’s hard to tell that the informatiion ia all coming for the same source (you don’t have to include the byline if it’s coming from a newswire and you’re not using the article in its entirety if it’s being published). To be honest, I never noticed it much until I made a point of chasing down the articles and saw the startling similarity in the texts. (more thoughts about corporate concentration of ownership and diversity of interests in upcoming postings)