The January issue of the NISE Net (Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network) newsletter features information about a new resource for scientists who need to talk or communicate about their work, Mastering Science and Public Presentations is a video. This talk was given by Tim Masters of Spoken Science at Duke University in the summer of 2010.
Larry Bell on his NISE Net blog discusses some of the meetings (National Science Foundation and National Nanotechnology Initiative) he attended in Washington, DC. I found the one about a Periodic Table of Nanoparticles particularly interesting as it includes an image which features the particles in 3 dimensions representing shape, size, and composition.
There’s a very good nanotechnology article by Corinna Wu in the American Association for Engineering Education (ASEE) magazine, PRISM, Peril in Small Places; What dangers lurk in our expanding use of nanotechnology? It does have an ominous title but the writer does a good job of covering the positive and exciting aspects as well as the risks. From the article,
The wonder of nanotechnology is the abundance of materials, devices, and systems made possible by controlling and manipulating matter at the atomic and molecular levels. But with that wonder comes concern that these now ubiquitous nanoparticles could spread new hazardous pollutants that threaten health and the environment. “We’re trying to say, ‘These are new materials. We don’t know if there’s a problem, so let’s ask now,’” says Sally Tinkle, senior science adviser at the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health. With prodding from the National Research Council and other institutions, inquiry into the health and environmental effects of nanotechnology has gone hand in hand with research on potential applications. The work is interdisciplinary, and engineers play a critical role. By helping to figure out what makes a nanoparticle toxic, they can, for instance, design nanoparticles that kill cancer cells yet don’t harm healthy tissues, or that remove pollutants from soil without poisoning wildlife.
It’s focused on the US scene and, one quibble, I’m not sure about some of the numbers. (For example, Wu gives a value for the number of nanotechnology products on the market but offers no details as to how this number was derived or where it came from.)
There’s a four-part series, Making Stuff, that’s going to be broadcast as part of the NOVA program on PBS. It starts Jan. 19, 2010. From the website,
Invisibility cloaks. Spider silk that is stronger than steel. Plastics made of sugar that dissolve in landfills. Self-healing military vehicles. Smart pills and micro-robots that zap diseases. Clothes that monitor your mood. What will the future bring, and what will it be made of? In NOVA’s four-hour series, “Making Stuff,” popular New York Times technology reporter David Pogue takes viewers on a fun-filled tour of the material world we live in, and the one that may lie ahead. Get a behind-the-scenes look at scientific innovations ushering in a new generation of materials that are stronger, smaller, cleaner, and smarter than anything we’ve ever seen.
Beginning January 19, 2011, NOVA will premiere the new four-hour series on consecutive Wednesday nights at 9 pm ET/PT on PBS (check local listings): “Making Stuff: Stronger, Smaller, Cleaner, Smarter.”
I wonder if they’ve made any changes to the series. After previewing it a few months ago, Andrew Maynard at 2020 Science featured the program in his Nov. 2, 2010 posting and it provoked a bit of a discussion about how to present science. From the posting,
Last week while at the NISE Net network-wide meeting, I was fortunate enough to see a preview of part of NOVA’s forthcoming series Making Stuff. The series focuses on the wonders of modern materials science. But rather than coming away enthralled by the ingenuity of scientists, I found myself breaking out in a cold sweat as I watched something that set my science-engagement alarm-bells ringing: New York Times tech reporter and host David Pogue enthusing about splicing spider genes into a goat so it produces silk protein-containing milk, then glibly drinking the milk while joking about transforming into Spider Man.
I was sitting there thinking, “You start with a spider – not everyone’s favorite creature. And you genetically cross it with a goat – dangerous territory at the best of times. Then you show a middle aged dude drinking the modified milk from a transgenic animal and having a laugh about it. And all this without any hint of a question over the wisdom or ramifications of what’s going on? Man, this is going to go down well!”
Andrew goes on to ask if his reaction was justified. Comments ensued including one from the producer of the series, Chris Schmidt.
Now, the nano haiku. Again this month there are two:
Asian hornets are
powered by nano solar
at the sun’s zenith.
by Frank Kusiak of the Lawrence Hall of Science. This Haiku relates to the BBC article Oriental hornets powered by ‘solar energy’.
After reading about the use of cinnamon in the production of gold nanoparticles, Vrylena Olney got hungry – and creative:
Cinnamon: good for
pumpkin pie, Moroccan stew,