Tag Archives: education

May 16, 2018: UNESCO’s (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) First International Day of Light

Courtesy: UNESCO

From a May 11, 2018 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) press release (received via email),

UNESCO will welcome leading scientists on 16 May 2018 for the 1st edition of the International Day of Light (02:30-08:00 pm) to celebrate the role light plays in our daily lives. Researchers and intellectuals will examine how light-based technologies can contribute to meet pressing challenges in diverse areas, such as medicine, education, agriculture and energy.

            UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay will open this event, which will count with the participation of renowned scientists, including:

  • Kip Thorne, 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics, California Institute of Technology (United States of America).
  • Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics, Collège de France.
  • Khaled Toukan, Director of the Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) based in Allan, Jordan.

The programme of keynotes and roundtables will address many key issues including science policy, our perception of the universe, and international cooperation, through contributions from experts and scientists from around the world.

The programme also includes cultural events, an illumination of UNESCO Headquarters, a photonics science show and an exhibit on the advances of light-based technologies and art.

            The debates that flourished in 2015, in the framework of the International Year of Light, highlighted the importance of light sciences and light-based technologies in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Several thousand events were held in 147 countries during the Year placed under the auspices of UNESCO.  

The proclamation of 16 May as the International Day of Light was supported by UNESCO’s Executive Board following a proposal by Ghana, Mexico, New Zealand and the Russian Federation, and approved by the UNESCO General Conference in November 2017.

More information:

I have taken a look at the programme which is pretty interesting. Unfortunately, I can’t excerpt parts of it for inclusion here as very odd things happen when I attempt to ‘copy and paste’. On the plus side. there’s a bit more information about this ‘new day’ on its event page,

Light plays a central role in our lives. On the most fundamental level, through photosynthesis, light is at the origin of life itself. The study of light has led to promising alternative energy sources, lifesaving medical advances in diagnostics technology and treatments, light-speed internet and many other discoveries that have revolutionized society and shaped our understanding of the universe. These technologies were developed through centuries of fundamental research on the properties of light – starting with Ibn Al-Haytham’s seminal work, Kitab al-Manazir (Book of Optics), published in 1015 and including Einstein’s work at the beginning of the 20th century, which changed the way we think about time and light.

The International Day of Light celebrates the role light plays in science, culture and art, education, and sustainable development, and in fields as diverse as medicine, communications, and energy. The will allow many different sectors of society worldwide to participate in activities that demonstrates how science, technology, art and culture can help achieve the goals of UNESCO – building the foundation for peaceful societies.

The International Day of Light is celebrated on 16 May each year, the anniversary of the first successful operation of the laser in 1960 by physicist and engineer, Theodore Maiman. This day is a call to strengthen scientific cooperation and harness its potential to foster peace and sustainable development.

Happy International Day of Light on Wednesday, May 16, 2018!

New interdisciplinary programmes on nanotechnology environmental impacts and policy; new NSF graduate environmental studies funding category: nanotechnology

Coincidentally or not I’ve come across two items today about environmental studies and nanotechnology. The first concerns a new interdisciplinary programme in the environmental effects and policy implications of nanotechnology being offered jointly by Carnegie Mellon University and Howard University. From the news item on Nanowerk,

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Howard University in Washington, D.C. have received $3.15 million over the next five years from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to launch a new interdisciplinary program in the environmental effects and policy implications of nanotechnology.

Funding comes from a new NSF program called the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT), which enables creation of interdisciplinary programs educating U.S. Ph.D. scientists and engineers.

“The IGERT program at Carnegie Mellon and Howard will operate at the interface of science and environmental policy to produce an environmentally and policy literate generation of nanoscience professionals with the skills needed to create novel nanotechnologies and to assess and manage environmental risks associated with nanomaterials,” said Jeanne M. VanBriesen, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon who will lead the program.

Graduate students from multiple disciplines will participate in a two-year-training program to learn the fundamentals of their core disciplines and gain proficiency in the analysis of environmental issues pertaining to nanotechnology, decision science, and policy-analysis in new nanotechnology-themed courses. Following this foundation, students will conduct research at the interface of policy and nanotechnology. Students also will participate in international laboratory exchange projects as well as internships at corporations active in nanotechnology.

I guess this is a consequence of the recent National Nanotechnology Initiative budget which dedicated more money to environmental research. In another development, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is offering fellowships for students pursuing graduate environmental study including those who want to focus on nanotechnology. From the news item on Nanowerk,

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Center for Environmental Research (NCER), invites applications for the Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Fellowships for graduate environmental study for master’s and doctoral level students.

The deadline is November 5, 2010 at 4:00 PM for receipt of paper applications, and November 5, 2010 at 11:59:59 PM ET for submittal of electronic applications via Grants.gov.

This solicitation contains several important changes from the previous solicitation. First, Social Sciences and Tribes and American Indian/Alaska Native/Pacific Islander Communitieshave been added as topic areas in response to the EPA Administrator’s priorities. Secondly, Nanotechnology has been added in response to the Assistant Administrator’s articulated vision for the Office of Research and Development.

The relevant Funding Opportunity Numbers (FON) for the nanotechnology topic is EPA-F2011-STAR-C1.

You can get more information directly from the EPA here.

Einstein’s ghosts and a nano education programme in Europe

He named it ‘spooky action’ as the concept so unnerved him. Einstein used it to describe distant particles’ communication with each other. Today, scientists at Bristol University and the Imperial College London are using ‘spooky action’ to solve the problem of identifying quantum devices. As to why this might be useful, (from the article),

Anthony Laing, PhD student in the Department of Physics, who performed the study, said: “Apart from providing insight into the fundamentals of quantum physics, this work may be crucial for future quantum technologies.

“How else could a future quantum engineer build a quantum computer if they can’t tell which circuits they have?”

The European Commission has awarded a 1.5M Euros education contract to Israel’s Organization for Rehabilitation and Training. 30,000 European students (11 – 18 years [additional programmes for young adults 19 – 25] will be introduced to nanotechnology through the NANOYOU project. There’s more information here and here.

I’ve been wondering when they’d find a way to fuse nanotechnology with sex and they’ve done it. Apparently nanotechnology may be helpful for erectile dysfunction. There’s a project which focuses on drug delivery and has been tested on rats. So I don’t think there’s anything to get too excited about yet but if you are interested, there’s more here.

Canadian nano and a couple responses

The province of Alberta has decided to fund nanotechnology studies to the tune of $30 million in programming for undergraduate students undertaking a Bachelor of Science in Engineering at either the University of Alberta or the University of Calgary. Congratulations to them all. It just seems odd to me that Canadians haven’t put much money into figuring out whether any of this is safe and what impact, if any, it’s going to have on us.

Scientists usually want some kind of communication programme or what they call public engagement because they want to make sure there’s no public outrage resulting in a loss of funds to do their work. I gave a presentation called Engaging Nanotechnology (pop culture, media, and public awareness) at the Cascadia Nanotech Symposium this last March in Vancouver. I’d give a link to the symposium presentations but they haven’t posted them yet. More about that in a later posting as I’m still rewriting the paper.

On the other side of the country, researchers at the Universite de Montreal have made some discoveries about proteins which have implications for cancers and degenerative neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases. The article is here.

Thank you to both Richard Jones and Adam Shand for clearing up a few questions. I’m sorry that it took me so long to figure out that I had any comments.