Monthly Archives: March 2009

Oops, I upgraded to WordPress 2.7.1

I’m having a problem with this latest upgrade in WordPress whcih is what I use for my blog. I can’t see everything that I’m entring as the columns are overlapping each other and the area where I write is overlaid by whole bunch of publishing instructions. I thought this upgrade was fairly bugfree. It’s going to take me a while to figure out how to fix this.  Sorry for the spelling errors but I can’t access the spellcheck and I can’t see any text on the right side of the text box.

Canadian attosecond researcher wins medal

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)  awarded Dr. Paul Corkum at the University of Ottawa with $1M in funding and the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering. Corkum’s work is in the field of attosecond science.

I looked up attosecond to find out that it is one quintillionth of a second or one thousandth of a femtosecond. I found the description of the work a little more helpful (from Attosecond science researcher wins Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal),

Dr. Paul Corkum and his team at NRC used the world’s fastest laser light pulses to capture the first image of an electron, one of the smallest bits of matter in the universe.

And this helped too,

Dr. Paul Corkum and his team … used the world’s fastest laser light pulses to capture the first image of an electron, one of the smallest bits of matter in the universe. This manipulation of electrons could lead to breakthroughs in fields as diverse as computing, engineering and medicine.

I’m still trying to find ways to describe nanotechnology and now there’s attosecond science. Not to mention synthetic biology (I’m still not sure I can define the difference between that and biotechnology). Btw, there’s a Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies event, Synthetic Biology: The Next Biotech Revolution Is Brewing on Wednesday, March 25, 2009 from 9:30 am to 10:30 am PST. It will be webcast live and posted on their website a few days later. If you’re in the Washington, DC area and want to attend please RSVP by clicking on the event title link. The event features Michael Rodemeyer from the University of Virginia. He’s the author of a report titled New Life, Old Bottles: Regulating First-Generation Products of Synthetic Biology and will be discussing the US regulatory framework for biotechnology and whether synthetic biology can be contained within that framework.

Nano ice cream and t-shirts

The NISE (Nanoscale Informal Science Education) Network has sent out a new haiku and more information about Nano Days which will be held from March 28, 2009 to April 5, 2009. First the haiku,

nano wee ‘lil’ thing
shakin’ and quantum leapin’
where you be leadin’?
by Carol Lynn Albert of the Museum of Science, Boston

Yes, Nano Days features a nano ice cream event at the Museum of Science + Life in Durham, North Caroline, US. With the reference to liquid nitrogen, it sounds like what they call ‘molecular’ gastronomy on the Food Network.

You can also order a Nano Days t-shirt here. For more information about Nano Days events or for a kit to create your own events, go to NISE Net.

Is nano good for jobs?

The idea that nanotechnology might be able to help pull the US economy out of it’s current economic crisis is certainly being discussed seriously. For example, Intel CEO, Paul Otellini, announced a nanotechnology investment of $7B in February 2009.  (There’s more about this in my blog posting of Feb. 11, 2009). Now the folks at the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies have announced  a new event, Nanotechnology: Will It Drive a New Innovation Economy for the U.S.? on Monday, March 23, 2009 from 9:30 am to 10:30 am PST (if you’re on the East Coast and can attend they will serve a light lunch but you need to RSVP. More info. here.)The two speakers, Philip Shapira and Alan Porter, both have links to the Georgia (US)  Institute of Technology. I mention that because last October (2008) the Japanese government announced they were funding four research satellite projects in institutions outside of Japan. it was described as a unique collaboration and the Georgia Institute of Technology is the location for one of these research satellites. There’s more information here at Azonano. (Note: The headline focuses on the University of Cambridge so you do have to read on to find the information about the other sites.)

I attended a lecture or nanotechnology which was part of the University of British Columbia’s (Canada) research week. Professor Alireza Nojeh (electrical engineering) gave a charming presentation. I was curious about how he would deal with some of the problems you encounter when explaining nanotechnology. He focused on measurements, size, and scale at the beginning and did a better job than I do when I’m presenting. Still, I haven’t seen anyone really crack that barrier of how you describe something that’s unseen. The images help to convey scale but there’s a point at which most people are going to have to take a huge leap in imagination. Of course, we did that with germs but the ‘germ’ leap occurred before living memory so we’ll probably have to relearn that skill.

Dr. Nojeh had another problem, it’s a very big topic. I noticed that he avoided much talk of biology and medicine (I do too) and only briefly discussed potential health concerns. I think they will be webcasting this (they were recording it) but this is probably one of those talks that were better attended in person. I will try to find out where the webcast will be posted.

Unexpected time off; now back for nano

My system melted down last Monday (Mar.2.09) and, as often happens with these things, it turned out to be more complicated (and expensive) than we hoped. On the good side, I’ve gotten things cleaned up, more memory, and updated a few programs on my system. On the not so good side, I still have a lot of catching up to do. Plus, I’ve decided to update this site … soon.

There was a nano song making the rounds recently and i finally got a chance to watch it.  It’s charming and it tells the nano story complete with puppets.

I also found an art/science project focusing on nanotechnology at Cranfield University, UK. Julie Freeman, artist-in-residence, worked with Professor Jeremy Ramsden to produce a series of 16 nano ‘novels’. I’m not sure why they’ve called them novels since they’re described this way:

Nano Novels consists of 16 graphic artworks, inspired by nanotechnology. Each artwork is accompanied by some ‘stereo literature’ – factual scientific text and metaphorical text.

Warning! Disgruntled writer ahead! It sounds like it’s artwork accompanied by a few pieces of text. Since when does that qualify as a novel? (sigh) I know it’s all changing but shouldn’t there be some sort of story. After all, graphic novels tell stories with words as well as pictures. That said, if you want to take a look at the project, go here.