A new study is suggesting that flies exposed to nanoparticles in manufacturing areas or other places with heavy concentrations could accumulate the particles on their bodies and transport them elsewhere. From the media release on Nanowerk News,
During the experiments, the researchers noted that contaminated flies transferred nanoparticles to other flies, and realized that such transfer could also occur between flies and humans in the future. The transfer involved very low levels of nanoparticles, which did not have adverse effects on the fruit flies.
It makes perfect sense when you think about it. Flies pick up and transport all manner of entities so why wouldn’t they pick up nanoparticles in their vicinity?
In other news, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has asked for comments on case studies of nanoscale titanium dioxide in water treatment and sunscreens. Presumably you have to be a US citizen to participate. For more information on the call for comments, check out this item on Nanowerk News. From the item,
EPA is announcing a 45-day public comment period for the draft document, Nanomaterial Case Studies: Nanoscale Titanium Dioxide in Water Treatment and Topical Sunscreen (External Review Draft), as announced in the July 31, 2009 Federal Register Notice. The deadline for comments is September 14, 2009.
Yesterday, I came across an announcement about scientific collaboration in a virtual world (specifically Second Life). It’s the first professional scientific organization, Meta Institute for Computational Astrophysics (MICA), based entirely in a virtual world.
This idea contrasts somewhat with the NanoLands concept from the National Physical Laboratory in the UK where an organization with a physical location creates a virtual location. (You can see my interview with Troy McConaghy, part of the original NanoLands design team, here.) The project blog seems to have been newly revived and you can find out more about NanoLands and their latest machinima movies. (If you want to see the machinima, you need a Second Life account.)
What I found particularly interesting about MICA is this bit from their media release on Physorg.com,
In addition to getting people together in a free and convenient way, virtual worlds can offer new possibilities for scientific visualization or “visual analytics.” As data sets become larger and more complex, visualization can help researchers better understand different phenomena. Virtual worlds not only offer visualization, but also enable researchers to become immersed in data and simulations, which may help scientists think differently about data and patterns. Multi-dimensional data visualization can provide further advantages for certain types of data. The researchers found that they can encode data in spaces with up to 12 dimensions, although they run into the challenge of getting the human mind to easily grasp the encoded content.
Shades of multimodal discourse! More tomorrow.