Tag Archives: NISE Network

NISE Net, the acronym remains the same but the name changes

NISE Net, the US Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network is winding down the nano and refocussing on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). In short, NISE Net will now stand for National Informal STEM Education Network. Here’s more from the Jan. 7, 2016 NISE Net announcement in the January 2016 issue of the Nano Bite,


NISE Network is Transitioning to the National Informal STEM Education Network

Thank you for all the great work you have done over the past decade. It has opened up totally new possibilities for the decade ahead.

We are excited to let you know that with the completion of NSF funding for the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network, and the soon-to-be-announced NASA [US National Aeronautics and Space Administration]-funded Space and Earth Informal STEM Education project, the NISE Network is transitioning to a new, ongoing identity as the National Informal STEM Education Network! While we’ll still be known as the NISE Net, network partners will now engage audiences across the United States in a range of STEM topics. Several new projects are already underway and others are in discussion for the future.

Current NISE Net projects include:

  • The original Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Net), focusing on nanoscale science, engineering, and technology (funded by NSF and led by the Museum of Science, Boston)
  • Building with Biology, focusing on synthetic biology (funded by NSF and led by the Museum of Science with AAAS [American Association for the Advancement of Science], BioBuilder, and SynBerc [emphases mine])
  • Sustainability in Science Museums (funded by Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives and led by Arizona State University)
  • Transmedia Museum, focusing on science and society issues raised by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (funded by NSF and led by Arizona State University)
  • Space and Earth Informal STEM Education (funded by NASA and led by the Science Museum of Minnesota)

The “new” NISE Net will be led by the Science Museum of Minnesota in collaboration with the Museum of Science and Arizona State University. Network leadership, infrastructure, and participating organizations will include existing Network partners, and others attracted to the new topics. We will be in touch through the newsletter, blog, and website in the coming months to share more about our plans for the Network and its projects.

In the mean time, work is continuing with partners within the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network throughout 2016, with an award end date of February 28, 2017. Although there will not be a new NanoDays 2016 kit, we encourage our partners to continue to engage audiences in nano by hosting NanoDays events in 2016 (March 26 – April 3) and in the years ahead using their existing kit materials. The Network will continue to host and update nisenet.org and the online catalog that includes 627 products of which 366 are NISE Net products (public and professional), 261 are Linked products, and 55 are Evaluation and Research reports. The Evaluation and Research team is continuing to work on final Network reports, and the Museum and Community Partnerships project has awarded 100 Explore Science physical kits to partners to create new or expanded collaborations with local community organizations to reach new underserved audiences not currently engaged in nano. These collaborative projects are taking place spring-summer 2016.

Thank you again for making this possible through your great work.

Best regards,

Larry Bell, Museum of Science
Paul Martin, Science Museum of Minnesota and
Rae Ostman, Arizona State University

As noted in previous posts, I’m quite interested in the synthetic biology focus the network has established in the last several months starting in late Spring 2015 and the mention of two (new-to-me) organizations, BioBuilder and Synberc piqued my interest.

I found this on the About the foundation page of the BioBuilder website,

What’s the best way to solve today’s health problems? Or hunger challenges? Address climate change concerns? Or keep the environment cleaner? These are big questions. And everyone can be part of the solutions. Everyone. Middle school students, teens, high school teachers.

At BioBuilder, we teach problem solving.
We bring current science to the classroom.
We engage our students to become real scientists — the problem solvers who will change the world.
At BioBuilder, we empower educators to be agents of educational reform by reconnecting teachers all across the country with their love of teaching and their own love of learning.

Synthetic biology programs living cells to tackle today’s challenges. Biofuels, safer foods, anti-malarial drugs, less toxic cancer treatment, biodegradable adhesives — all fuel young students’ imaginations. At BioBuilder, we empower students to tackle these big questions. BioBuilder’s curricula and teacher training capitalize on students’ need to know, to explore and to be part of solving real world problems. Developed by an award winning team out of MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology], BioBuilder is taught in schools across the country and supported by thought leaders in the STEM community.

BioBuilder proves that learning by doing works. And inspires.

As for Synberc, it is the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center and they has this to say about themselves on their About us page (Note: Links have been removed),

Synberc is a multi-university research center established in 2006 with a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to help lay the foundation for synthetic biology Our mission is threefold:

develop the foundational understanding and technologies to build biological components and assemble them into integrated systems to accomplish many particular tasks;
train a new cadre of engineers who will specialize in engineering biology; and
engage the public about the opportunities and challenges of engineering biology.

Just as electrical engineers have made it possible for us to assemble computers from standardized parts (hard drives, memory cards, motherboards, and so on), we envision a day when biological engineers will be able to systematically assemble biological components such as sensors, signals, pathways, and logic gates in order to build bio-based systems that solve real-world problems in health, energy, and the environment.

In our work, we apply engineering principles to biology to develop tools that improve how fast — and how well — we can go through the design-test-build cycle. These include smart fermentation organisms that can sense their environment and adjust accordingly, and multiplex automated genome engineering, or MAGE, designed for large-scale programming and evolution of cells. We also pursue the discovery of applications that can lead to significant public benefit, such as synthetic artemisinin [emphasis mine], an anti-malaria drug that costs less and is more effective than the current plant-derived treatment.

The reference to ‘synthetic artemisinin’ caught my eye as I wrote an April 12, 2013 posting featuring this “… anti-malaria drug …” and the claim that the synthetic “… costs less and is more effective than the current plant-derived treatment” wasn’t quite the conclusion journalist, Brendan Borrell arrived at. Perhaps there’s been new research? If so, please let me know.

Universal design: Aug. 21, 2012 online workshop; nano, ethics, and religion; and more from NISE Net

My August 2012 issue of The NanoBite from the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Net) features news of a free, online workshop about designing public programmes with a nanotechnology focus. From the event webpage,

You (or someone from your institution) is invited to attend a free, one-hour online workshop on Universal Design for Public Programs.

The workshop will be Tuesday, August 21st, 1 – 2 pm EDT.

What is the workshop about?
The workshop will focus specifically on the NISE Net’s Universal Design Guide for Public Programs. Workshop facilitators will give a brief introduction to the guide, look at some examples of universal design in programs from the NISE Net catalog, and will have an expert advisor on hand to answer questions. If you are interested in learning more about developing or implementing public programs (such as interpretation carts, stage demonstrations, and science theater) that are inclusive of the wide range of museum visitors, including those with disabilities then please join us. See the attached brief agenda for more detail.

We’re also testing out using the Adobe Connect online platform for short web-based trainings and conversations. This is a bit of an experiment, and we’ll be interested in hearing your take on the system!

What is Universal Design?
Universal Design (UD) is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.

You can find and download the guide online at:

How do I sign up?
Please RSVP using this survey gizmo link if you’re able to attend:

Agenda at a Glance
1:00 – Overview of universal design and universal design for learning in a museum context
1:15 – UD Programs Concept 1 – Repeat and reinforce the main ideas and concepts
1:30 – UD Programs Concept 2 – Make multiple entry points and multiple ways of engagement available.
1:45 – UD Programs Concept 3 – Provide physical and sensory access to all aspects of the program

This universal design concept seems to be related to NISE Net’s Inclusive Audiences initiative mentioned in my Dec. 5, 2011 posting.

The magazine, Covalence, published an issue on science,ethics,  and religion that featured five articles about nano. From the August 2012 issue of NanoBite (the NISE Net newsletter),

Faith, Ethics, and Nanotechnology
A number of NISE Net partners recently contributed articles to Covalence, an online magazine of religion and science, as part of a package of five papers on “faith, ethics, and nanotechnology.” The five articles, Virtue and Vice Among the Molecules by Chris Toumey, The Landscape of Nanoethics by Ronald Sandler, Biomilitarism and Nanomedicine: Evil Metaphors for the Good of Human Health? by Brigitte Nerlich, A Place for Religion in Nanotechnology Debates by Jamey Wetmore, and Nanobots Dancing: Science Fiction and Faith by Steven Lynn can all be found in the collection here: http://www.elca.org/What-We-Believe/Social-Issues/Faith-Science-and-Technology/Covalence/Features.aspx. Thank you to Chris Toumey for letting us know!

NISE Net has  a new partner, which is also a new organization, Informal Science Learning Associates (ISLA), from the Aug. 2012 issue of the NanoBite,

Informal Science Learning Associates (ISLA)
The Informal Science Learning Associates (ISLA)  is a newly-formed nonprofit organization dedicated to improving educational opportunities for all children. A museum without walls, ISLA provides interactive programming in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to promote life-long learning in the community and surrounding communities of Laredo, Texas. One of ISLA’s first big events was hosting NanoDays at local high schools. For more on ISLA’s NanoDays activities and programs, read this Partner Highlight by Aaron Guerrero of the Children’s Museum of Houston, the regional hub leader for the South region.

And as always, I will end this with the poetry, from the Aug. 2012 issue of the NanoBite,

Nano Haiku

Fantastic voyage
Dendrimer nanospaceship
Drug delivery

After reading the article Nanoparticles Help Researchers Deliver Steroids to the Retina, Wendy Aldwyn, of the North Carolina Museum of Life & Science shared the above haiku.

Nano risk news and a nano haiku

The International Standards Organization (ISO) has published a new document on risk: Nanotechnologies — Nanomaterial risk evaluation (ISO/TR 13121:2011). From the May 17, 2011 news item on Nanowerk,

ISO/TR 13121:2011 describes a process for identifying, evaluating, addressing, making decisions about, and communicating the potential risks of developing and using manufactured nanomaterials, in order to protect the health and safety of the public, consumers, workers and the environment.

It’s just been released so I have not been able to locate any discussion about it yet. If you’re inclined to read it, the document (paper or PDF) costs 150 Swiss francs.

I got my NISE (Nanoscale Informal Science Education) Net (Network) newsletter a few weeks back and found this related item,

2011 Risk Science Symposium
The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor will host the 2011 Risk Science Symposium on September 20-21. This symposium will bring together leading thinkers to explore new ideas on integrative approaches to health risks, uncertainty and innovation, as people look to develop sustainable solutions to global challenges in an increasingly fragile world.

You can also visit the NISE Net website here or Andrew Maynard’s (he will be chairing the symposium) 2020Science blog here.

Here’s the nano haiku for May 2011 (from the NISE Net newsletter),

Nano Haiku

Viruses align
Carbon nanotubes for the
Thinnest solar cell

by Anna Lindgren-Streicher of the Museum of Science, Boston.

Science outreach and Nova’s Making Stuff series on PBS

The February 2011 NISE (Nanoscale Informal Science Education) Net newsletter pointed me towards a video interview with Amy Moll, a materials scientist (Boise State University) being interviewed by Joe McEntee, group editor IOP Publishing, for the physicsworld.com video series,

Interesting discussion, yes? The Making Stuff series on PBS is just part of their (materials scientists’ working through their professional association, the Materials Research Society) science outreach effort. The series itself has been several years in the planning but is just one piece of a much larger effort.

All of which puts another news item into perspective. From the Feb. 7, 2011 news item on Nanowerk,

The Arizona Science Center is enlisting the expertise of professors in Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering in showcasing the latest advances in materials science and engineering.

The engineering schools are among organizations collaborating with the science center to present the Making Stuff Festival Feb. 18-20. [emphasis mine]

The event will explore how new kinds of materials are shaping the future of technology – in medicine, computers, energy, space travel, transportation and an array of personal electronic devices.

No one is making a secret of the connection,

The festival is being presented in conjunction with the broadcast of “Making Stuff”, a multi-part television series of the Public Broadcasting Service program NOVA that focuses on advances in materials technologies. It’s airing locally on KAET-Channel 8.

Channel 8 is another collaborator on the Making Stuff Festival, along with ASU’s Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes, the Arizona Technology Council, Medtronic, Intel and Science Foundation Arizona.

I highlight these items to point out how much thought, planning, and effort can go into science outreach.

Nano haikus (from the Feb. 2011 issue of the NISE Net Newsletter,

We received two Haikus from Michael Flynn expressing his hopes and fears for nanotechnology:

Miracle fibers
Weave a new reality
Built from the ground up

Too Small to be seen
This toxin is nanoscale
Can’t tell if it spilled

Nano activities for the summer months

Courtesy of the July 2010 NISE (Nanoscale Informal Science Education) Net (work) newsletter, I have a list of nano-related activities taking place in various science museums and centres in the US. From the newsletter,

  • The Sciencenter in Ithaca, NY is integrating two mornings of nano programming into every two-week camp session. Sciencenter camp activities are designed for girls and boys entering grades 2 – 6 in the fall of 2010. Sciencenter educators plan an assortment of active, physical games, focused classroom experiences, special presentations, and free exploration of the museum and the science park. More information can be found at http://www.sciencenter.org/programs/sciencentersummercamp.asp
  • The Children’s Museum of Science and Technology (CMOST) in Troy, NY is partnering with the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering to offer two week long sessions of Nano Camp! One week will be all inclusive, and the second week is a ladies-only GIST (Girls in Science and Technology) program. More information can be found at http://www.cmost.org/programs/summer_gist.php
  • The Arts and Science Center in Pine Bluff, AR held a weeklong nano camp in early June using some of the NanoDays kit activities.
  • The Museum of Science in Boston, MA is hosting its fourth round of science communication workshops for NSF-funded REU (Research Experience for Undergraduate) students from Boston-area nano research centers, and is working with the Discovery Center Museum and the UW Madison NSEC and MRSEC to adapt this set of workshops for integration into their REU programs. The goal of these workshops is to help to cultivate a new generation of nano and materials science researchers aware of the broader context of their research and equipped with the skills to communicate effectively on interdisciplinary research teams and to engage broader audiences.[emphases mine]
  • In about a month, the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN) REU will gather at the University of Minnesota for their network-wide convocation.  All 80 NNIN REU interns will present a talk and a poster.  Plus, all 18 International REUs, the iREUs, will be attending having just gotten home from Belgium, Germany or Japan!  Finally, staff from every site, along with many of the interns’ parents and friends, attend.  It’s an exciting event where staff and interns meet and find out what everyone has been up to over the summer. The presentations are web-cast and details and schedules can be found at http://www.nano.umn.edu/nninreuconvocation2010/.
  • The Summer Institute for Physics Teachers is currently going on at Cornell’s Center for Nanoscale Systems. The course, open to high school physics teachers, includes lectures are given by Dr. Julie Nucci and many Cornell faculty on topics such as electronics, photonics, nanotechnology, and particle physics. Lab tours provide a glimpse into state-of-the-art academic research.  The lab activities, which are co-developed by high school physics teachers and Cornell scientists, are presented by teachers.

I highlighted the science communication workshops for the US undergraduates in light of a recent (July 8, 2010) University of British Columbia media release announcing two recent federal grants including this one,

young researchers at UBC were awarded a further $1.6 million from the Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program to help upgrade their skills for a successful transition to the workplace.

The CREATE grant to UBC is part of a $32-million investment over six years from NSERC, for 20 projects at Canadian universities. The funding will give science and engineering graduates an opportunity to expand their professional and personal skills to prepare them for the workplace.

While the two programmes are markedly different, the fact of their existence is intriguing. I don’t believe communication skills workshops or programmes to upgrade workplace skills for budding young scientists have been a feature of science training (in Canada anyway) until fairly recently. If you know differently, please do comment.

I’ve long been interested in the work being done on adhesive forces (usually Spiderman or geckos are featured in the headline for the news release) so I was quite happy to see this in the newsletter,

→ Geckos!

Check out our new program Biomimicry: Synthetic Gecko Tape through Nanomolding.  The hands-on activity gives visitors a glimpse of one of the methods used by researchers to make synthetic gecko tape.  Visitors make their own synthetic gecko tape with micron-sized hairs that mimic the behavior of the gecko foot and test how much weight their gecko tape can hold using LEGOs. The activity was designed to fit into a classroom/camp program, but can be adapted for a museum floor.

If the scientists are successful, it means you won’t need glue to stick things together, for example, putting up curtain rods. (Some curtain rods use adhesive pads so you can pull them on and off the walls but if you do that too many times you lose the adhesive properties; Spiderman and geckos don’t experience that problem.)

I found the document which tells you exactly how to create your synthetic gecko tape. You may not have the materials needed easily available but if you’re interested, the instructions are here.

This month’s nano haiku,

Surface to Volume
new science with a nano
Golden Ratio

by Luke Doney of the Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, TX

If you want to check NISE Net, go here.

Nano haiku and a nano-influenced job at a museum

The June 2010 issue of the NISE Net (Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network)  Newsletter features some information about a job at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry,

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is hiring a Senior Research and Evaluation Associate. The person will be designing, executing, and facilitating research and evaluation studies related to exhibits, programs, and museum initiatives and will help lead division efforts. Some of their time will be spent on the NISE Net evaluation

For more information about the museum, you can go here, and for the job description, you can go here.  Excerpt from the job description,

· Support ethical treatment of human evaluation and research subjects. Complete related training as required.

· Help lead division efforts to stay informed on theory, methods, and standards related to evaluation and visitor studies.

· Help lead division efforts to secure new funded projects.

· Help manage project budget and timelines as assigned.

· Develop the research or evaluation plan for individual projects. Design research or evaluation protocol and instruments.

· Coordinate and/or execute research or evaluation activities as assigned including literature reviews, data collection, data analysis, interpretation, reporting, and dissemination.

· Liaison with external evaluators as needed.

· Serve as a team member of OMSI divisions, projects, and committees as assigned.

· Proactively contribute to efforts of the division, OMSI, and the Visitor Studies and ISE fields. Serve in leadership roles as appropriate and participate in professional activities that progress the E&VS and ISE fields.

As for this month’s nano haiku,

Syllables per line
Times ten to the minus nine:
Nano haiku form.

by Matthew Mattingly, Multimedia Director at the UMass Amherst Center for Educational Software Development.

May 2010 issue of The Nano Bite, the NISE Net newsletter

It’s National Children’s Book Week in the US this week which I know because of the NISE Net (Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network) May 2010 newsletter. From the newsletter,

What’s Smaller than a Pygmy Shrew? by Robert E. Wells An examination of the very small, down to molecules, atoms, electrons, and quarks.  In addition, the University of Wisconsin-Madison MRSEC developed a lesson plan for middle schoolers based on the book.
Is that Robot Real? by Rae Ostman, Catherine McCarthy, Emily Maletz and Stephen Hale. Learn what makes a robot a robot, then step down in size and find out which robots are real and which are science fiction.  You can download Is that Robot Real for free from the nisenet.org catalog here or purchase it from lulu.com or amazon.com.   In other robot- and children’s book-related news: Kim Duncan adapted the NISE Net’s Shrinking Robots! program for Story Time Science at the Madison Children’s Museum.  The adaptation includes a reading of Hello, Robots by Bob Staacke.  You can find the full adaptation in the comments section of the Shrinking Robots! program on nisenet.org.
→ How Small is Nano: Measuring Different Things by Catherine McCarthy, Rae Ostman, Emily Maletz and Stephen Hale. This book can also be downloaded for free from the nisenet.org catalog or purchased at lulu.com or amazon.com.

For interested parties, NISE Net offers a program complete with lesson plan and images called Shrinking Robots, from the Shrinking Robots program,

Stickybot, photo and video: Mark Cutkosky, Stanford University

They have added something new to their catalog,

We recently posted a new program to the nisenet.org catalog: Nanosilver: Breakthrough or Biohazard? The presentation guides visitors through the questions What is nanosilver? Why is it used in consumer products such as teddy bears and food containers? and How safe is nanosilver, and how might it affect the environment?

This month’s Nano Haiku seems more like a NISE Net haiku,

Nano Haiku

Network friends, hello.
Are you social? Tell us where!
In your profile, please.
By Karen Pollard of the Science Museum of Minnesota.

One last item, Clark Miller has posted about human enhancement on the NISE Net blog. Miller is the Associate Director of the Arizona State University (ASU), Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes. From his April 27, 2010 post,

The pursuit of science to enhance human performance raises profound questions for society. Yet, according to a recent study we conducted at the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at ASU, knowledge about nanotechnology and human enhancement is extremely low. This suggests the topic might be a good one for science museums to tackle. The full results of our survey will be published soon, but if any of you would like to find out more about the findings or are thinking about developing an exhibit or program around human enhancement, I’d be glad to talk further.

Perhaps the most important finding from the study is that the US public is, overall, quite skeptical regarding the prospect of human enhancement. This might be expected of sports, given the negative press that steroid use has gotten in recent years, but survey respondents also strongly objected to the use of enhancement technologies that would help in getting a job, taking a college entrance exam, or running for public office.

I have posted on this topic most recently here and in a four part series July 22, 2009, July 23, 2009, July 24, 2009 and  July 27, 2009. Gregor Wolbring at the University of Calgary writes on this issue extensively (from his blog called: Nano and Nano- Bio, Info, Cogno, Neuro, Synbio, Geo, Chem…),

Hi everybody, My name is Gregor Wolbring. I am an Ableism ethics and governance scholar, a biochemist, ethicist, governance of science and technology scholar , ability studies and governance scholar, disability studies,health research, implications of Nanotechnology, Converging Technologies, Synthetic Biology scholar. Beside that I am interested in social entrepreneurship, working with youth, social implications, human rights. My webpage is here; My biweekly column at innovationwatch.com is here ; My new blog on Ableism Ethics and Governance; A blog to which I also contribute called What Sorts of People

Andy Miah from the University of the West of Scotland also writes extensively on the topic of human enhancement here. From his About page,

“Andy Miah is the Renaissance man of the enhancement enlightenment”
Kristi Scott, H+ Magazine, 2009

My research is informed by an interest in applied ethics and policy related to emerging technology. I have spent considerable time researching the Internet along with human enhancement technologies. This includes the implications of pervasive wireless connectivity and the convergence of technological systems and the modification of biological matter through nanotechnology and gene transfer. Many of these studies are increasingly transdisciplinary and being characterised as NBIC (nano-bio-info-cognitive) inquiries. Recent work has particularly examined the role of art and design in an era of biotechnology, often described as bioart or transgenic art.

I have published over 100, solo-authored academic articles in refereed journals, books, e-zines, and national media press, recently including Bioethics and Film, Medical Enhancement and Posthumanity, and Politics and Leisure. I also write for leading newspapers, including The Washington Post, The Guardian, Le Monde, the Times Higher Education Supplement. …

Both Gregor and Andy offer some thought-provoking perspectives for anyone interested in the area of human enhancement.

Nanotechnology dieting; snowflakes; nano haiku

It’s a bit disconcerting to read about a new drug delivery system using silicon, a substance I strongly associate with computers. From the news item on Azonano,

Different types of drug molecules can be bound to the porous structure of silicon, thereby making it possible to alter their properties and control their behaviour within the body.

Porous silicon can be produced as both micro- and nanoparticles, which facilitates the introduction of the material through different dosing routes – orally, as injections or subcutaneous applications. Furthermore, biodegradable nanoparticles can be used for drug targeting.

Scientists in Finland are working on this project and possible applications include dieting. Apparently peptides which control appetite can be targeted with this new delivery system. I suspect that if this is possible there will be a stampede to use silicon drug delivery systems and public concerns about risk will be left far behind as people chase the dream of dieting without effort.

The NISE (Nanoscale Informal Science Education) Network has included some timely information about snowflakes and nanotechnology it its latest newsletter. The downloadable  education programme is here. The snowflake images are supplied by Kenneth Libbrecht, Caltech and you can see more of those here. The haiku in this month’s newsletter is,

Nano, oh nano
With surface area so
Small, but big impact

This week will be short as I’m not sure if I’ll be posting after tomorrow. Changes are afoot.

Detecting dangerous liquids in airline luggage with a Josephson junction; NANOvember in Albany, New York; nano haiku for November

To be free of those clear plastic bags which hold all your bottles of liquids when you go through airport security with your luggage! That is a very worthwhile nanotechnology promise. From the news item on Nanowerk,

Restrictions on liquids in carry-on bags on commercial airliners could become a thing of the past thanks to a revolutionary nano-electric device which detects potentially hazardous liquids in luggage in a fraction of a second, according to a team of German scientists. Writing in the journal Superconductor Science and Technology, the researchers at the Forschungszentrum Juelich in western Germany claim that they have been able to do this using an optical approach that detects all existing and future harmful liquids within one fifth of a second.

Since the paper has been published, the researchers have been approached by industrial partners about producing a prototype. (sigh) Most likely this means they hope it will be about five years before we see the devices in airports. The device itself is known as a Josephson junction and you can read more about it on the Azonano site too.

I am happy to see that the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) at the University of Albany (New York, US) has held a remarkably successful nano event, Community Day, during NANOvember  attracting about 1000 people.  From the news item on Nanowerk,

NANOvember is part of “NEXSTEP,” or “Nanotechnology Explorations for Science, Training and Education Promotion,” a partnership between CNSE and KeyBank. Spearheaded by CNSE’s Nanoeconomics Constellation, the initiative features a variety of educational programs designed to promote greater understanding of the changing economic and business environment in the Capital Region and New York State being driven by nanotechnology. “As nanotechnology increasingly shapes the educational and economic landscapes of the Capital Region, NANOvember offers a platform through which the community can better understand the impact and opportunities driven by this emerging science,” said Jeffrey Stone, president, Capital Region, KeyBank N.A.

I’m impressed they attracted that large a crowd in a city with a population of about 100,000 (Albany county has a population of about 300,000) according the 2000 census statistics. By contrast, the city of Vancouver (Canada) has a population of about 600,000 with a regional population of approximately 2 million (from the City of Vancouver website on November 9, 2009) and I’m hard pressed to recall either of our local universities claiming a similar success for one of their community days.

One other point about Albany and nanotechnology, in a July 2008 posting I noted a $1.5B investment for a research centre  in Albany, NY, being made by IBM. So this nanotechnology communication/education event seems to dovetail very nicely with past occurrences and suggests an overall strategy is at work.

Some haiku from NISEnet’s (Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network) newsletter,

After you read this
Your finger nail will have grown
a nanometer
by Troy Dassler

We struggle to show
The size of a molecule.
Kids wait patiently.

by Mike Falvo

You can check out the organization’s The Nano Bite blog here.