Tag Archives: nanotech mysteries

Haiti, cholera, University of Alberta, and nano-syringes

As I’ve noted before the word nano pops up in unexpected places, in this case, in a news release about a University of Alberta medical researcher’s work on cholera bacteria. We tend not to think about cholera in Canada these days but it was a serious problem here as it still is elsewhere. From the Canadian Encyclopedia essay on cholera in Canada,

Cholera first reached Canada in 1832, brought by immigrants from Britain. Epidemics occurred in 1832, 1834, 1849, 1851, 1852 and 1854. There were cases in Halifax in 1881. The epidemics killed at least 20 000 people in Canada. Cholera was feared because it was deadly and no one understood how it spread or how to treat it. The death rate for untreated cases is extremely high. Grosse Île, near Québec, was opened in 1832 as a quarantine station and all ships stopped there for inspection.

The essay goes on to note that between 1995 and 2004 Canada’s reported annual number of cases ranged from one to eight. Meanwhile, Haiti is experiencing a serious outbreak of cholera as it recovers from last year’s earthquake. From the University of Alberta’s Feb. 3, 2010 news release,

Just over a year after the earthquake in Haiti killed 222,000 people there’s a new problem that is killing Haitians. A cholera outbreak has doctors in the area scrambling and the water-borne illness has already claimed 3600 lives according to officials with Médicin Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) [sic].

Bacteriologist Stefan Pukatzki recently achieved a breakthrough understanding of cholera’s disease process which will hopefully help stem outbreaks in the future.

Pukatzki discovered that Vibrio cholerae uses molecular nano-syringes to puncture host cells and secrete toxins straight in to the other organism; this is called the type six secretion system. [emphasis mine]

“Vibrio cholerae uses these syringes so when it comes in contact with another bacteria, like E. coli, which is a gut bacterium, it kills it,” said Pukatzki. “That’s a novel phenomenon. We knew it [Vibrio cholerae] competed with cells of the immune system but we didn’t know it was able to kill other bacteria.

“Keep in mind these syringes are sitting on the outside of the bacterium so they make good vaccine targets,” said Pukatzki. “That’s actually better because you could either inhibit the type six function or you could induce an immune response with these components that are sitting on the outside.”

I’m very interested to see that he (or the writer of the news release) used ‘nano’ as a prefix given that it was already described as molecular. I don’t make much of it other than the fact that it served to grab my attention.

The Nanotech Mysteries wiki is now open

I’ve done all the tagging and tweaking that I needed to make this working version similar (and maybe even better) than the version for my student submission (my dissertation project for an MA in Creative Writing and New Media from De Montfort University through their Institute of Creative Technology). Even better, it can now be expanded and changed around. So for anyone who’s curious, The Nanotech Mysteries: an initiation in the science and the technology is here.

Plus I found something interesting on the I’d rather be writing blog about Floss Manuals. It’s a wiki site where you and/or your team can create technical documentation collectively and, if you wish, print it up as a book. It also offers a PDF option.  If you want to check out Floss directly, go here. The link should open up a page listing released manuals.

The mysteries are almost ready

I’ve been working on my nanotech wiki (dissertation project called The Nanotech Mysteries: an initiation into the science and the technology) for the last few weeks and it should ready for showing after Labour Day (Sept. 1, 2008).

Here’s a sneak preview: I’ve got information about nanotech in pop culture, (Nano goes Pop) some of the science that underlies nanotechnology (The Science behind Nano), public engagement material and info. on public opinion polls (Can you hear me Nano Tech),  risks (Risks), and more. More specifically, I include materials on microscopy, physics, Atomistic philosophers, business interests, and the nanotechnology origins story. Plus, I was able to get some images including Winslow Homer’s For to be a Farmer’s Boy and Jack Mason’s BlueBoronic.

There is some more information about the presentation at the Panomino 2008 meeting which is coming up Sept. 3-7, 2008 in Friday Harbor, Washington State. For a list of the presentations go here.

Getting started on the Mysteries

I started my nanotech wiki (The Nanotech Mysteries) yesterday or rather I created the shell. And, I tried my hand at creating a cartoon character I’ve dubbed ‘onanonano’. Yes, it’s a palindrome which could have been shorter but this way it sounds like ‘banana’ and I’ve always really liked that sound. Meanwhile, I didn’t find anything especially interesting on my Bloglines nanotech search this morning so I sent out a request to interview Martha Cook Piper. She was appointed to the [Canada] National Institute of Nanotechnology board in April 2008 and I’m hoping that by this time she will have had one meeting under her belt and be able to share a little about the national scene.

Nano Wiki presentation and more jazz

The 2008 Canada Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences started yesterday at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and I’m presenting at one of the conferences. (Btw, their Congress website is not one of my faves.)

My presentation is called, The Nanotech Mysteries: an initiation into the science and the technology. It’s all about the wiki I’m developing on nanotechnology. I’m discussing some of the ideas behind the project and reviewing a prototype for the project. The presentation is for the Canadian Association of Teachers of Technical Writing (CATTW). Their conference website is here. There’s not a lot to it but they do have a programme there. I’m presenting tomorrow, June 1 in the 1:30 to 3 pm slot. I’m listed last on the speaker list, it looks like it’s going to be a nice day, and it’s the session before afternoon coffee. It just seems that I shouldn’t expect a big audience.

On a jazz note, my friend and her band are performing tonight at Bogarts, 6:30 to 9:30 pm at 1619 West Broadway, Vancouver.