Tag Archives: regulations

Bacterial nanobots build a pyramid; solar cell breakthrough in Quebec; global nano regulatory framework conference at Northeastern University; Robert Fulford talks about the poetry of nanotechnology

Just when I was thinking that the Canadian nanotechnology scene was slowing down there’s this: A research team at the École Polytechnique de Montréal (Québec) has announced that they’ve trained bacteria to build structures shaped like pyramids. From the news item on Nanowerk,

Faster than lion tamers… More powerful than snake charmers… Make way for the bacteria trainers! Professor Sylvain Martel and his team at the École Polytechnique de Montréal NanoRobotics Laboratory have achieved a new world first: “training” living bacteria to build a nanopyramid.

These miniature construction workers are magnetotactic bacteria (MTB): they have their own internal compasses, allowing them to be pulled by magnetic fields. MTB possess flagella bundles enabling each individual to generate a thrust force of approximately 4 picoNewtons. Professor Martel’s team has succeeded in directing the motion of a group of such bacteria using computer-controlled magnetic fields. In an experiment conducted by Polytechnique researchers, the bacteria transported several epoxy nanobricks and assembled them into a step-pyramid structure, completing the task in just 15 minutes. The researchers have also managed to pilot a group of bacteria through the bloodstream of a rat using the same control apparatus.

Nanowerk also features a video of the magnetotactic bacteria at work.

Solar cell breakthrough?

More Canadian nano from Québec: a researcher (Professor Benoît Marsan) and his team at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) have provided solutions to two problems which have been inhibiting the development of the very promising Graetzel solar cell that was developed in the 1990s in Switzerland. From the news item on Nanowerk a description of the problems,

Most of the materials used to make this cell are low-cost, easy to manufacture and flexible, allowing them to be integrated into a wide variety of objects and materials. In theory, the Graetzel solar cell has tremendous possibilities. Unfortunately, despite the excellence of the concept, this type of cell has two major problems that have prevented its large-scale commercialisation:

– The electrolyte is: a) extremely corrosive, resulting in a lack of durability; b) densely coloured, preventing the efficient passage of light; and c) limits the device photovoltage to 0.7 volts.

– The cathode is covered with platinum, a material that is expensive, non-transparent and rare. Despite numerous attempts, until Professor Marsan’s recent contribution, no one had been able to find a satisfactory solution to these problem

Now a description of the solutions,

– For the electrolyte, entirely new molecules have been created in the laboratory whose concentration has been increased through the contribution of Professor Livain Breau, also of the Chemistry Department. The resulting liquid or gel is transparent and non-corrosive and can increase the photovoltage, thus improving the cell’s output and stability.

– For the cathode, the platinum can be replaced by cobalt sulphide, which is far less expensive. It is also more efficient, more stable and easier to produce in the laboratory.

More details about the work and publication of the study are at Nanowerk.

Northeastern University and nano regulatory frameworks

According to a news item on Azonano, Northeastern University’s (Boston, MA) School of Law will be hosting a two-day conference on international regulatory frameworks for nanotechnology.

Leading international experts on the global regulation of nanotechnologies, including scientists, lawyers, ethicists and officials from governments, industry stakeholders, and NGOs will join in a two-day conference May 7-8, 2010 at Northeastern University’s School of Law.

The conference will identify best practices that address the needs of industries, the public and regulators. Speakers include representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Brazil Ministry of Science and Technology, the Korean government, the International Conference of Chemicals Management and National Science Foundation-funded university-industry collaborations.

I checked out the law school’s conference website and noted a pretty good range of speakers from Asia, Europe, and North and South America. It can’t have been easy pulling such a diverse group together. Unfortunately, I didn’t recognize names other than two Canadian ones: Dr. Mark Saner and Pat Roy Mooney.

Saner who’s from Carleton University (Ottawa, Ontario) co-wrote a paper cited by Peter Julian (Canadian Member of Parliament) as one of the materials he used for reference when drawing up his recently tabled bill on nanotechnology regulation. (You can see Julian’s list here.) Saner, when he worked with the Council of Canadian Academies, was charged with drawing together the expert panel that wrote the council’s paper on nanotechnology. That panel put together a report (Small is Different: A Science Perspective on the Regulatory Challenges of the Nanoscale) that does a thoughtful job of discussing nanotechnology, regulations, the precautionary principle, etc. and which you can find here. (As I recall I don’t agree with everything as written in the report but it is, as I noted, thoughtful.)

As for Pat Roy Mooney, he’s the executive director for the ETC Group which is a very well-known (to many scientists and businesses in the technology sectors) civil society group. There’s an Oct. 2009 interview with Mooney here where he discusses (in English) nanotechnology during a festival in Austria.

Robert Fulford and nanotechnology

Canadian journalist and author, Robert Fulford just penned an essay/article about nanotechnology for the National Post. From the article,

Fresh bulletins regularly bring news of startling developments in this era’s most surprising and perhaps most poetic form of science, nanotechnology, the study of the unthinkably small.

It’s a pleasure to read as a literary piece. Fulford mostly concerns himself with visions of what nanotechnology could accomplish and with a book (No small matter) by Felice Frankel and George Whitesides which I first saw mentioned by Andrew Maynard on his 2020 Science blog here.

Nanotech cosmetics and beauty products labelling; scientists in Japan worried about research cuts; gender imbalance in European science researcher community; nano game;

I mentioned the new European nano labeling regulation cosmetics and beauty products earlier this week (Nov.24.09) in the context of Germany’s resistance to it. Now officially passed(from the news item on Nanowerk),

The nanoparticle decree is part of a new 397-page cosmetics regulation approved on 20 November by the Council of the European Union, which includes ministers from all EU nations and is the EU’s main decision-making body. The cosmetic regulation states that all ingredients present in the product in the form of nanomaterials should be clearly indicated in the list of ingredients, by inserting the word ‘nano’ in brackets after the ingredient listing. The ruling defines nanomaterial as ‘an insoluble or biopersistant and intentionally manufactured material with one or more external dimensions, or an internal structure, on the scale from 1 to 100 nm’.

Now I wonder how  long before we start hearing demands for similar product labeling in the US, Canada, and Australia? As for failing to mention other countries,  I haven’t come across any health and safety or environmental discussions in other countries but I only search English language materials so I’m not likely to find something written in Spanish, Chinese, etc.

More cuts to  scientific research and, this time, in Japan. From the news item on physorg.com,

Top Japanese scientists, including four Nobel laureates, have criticised the new government for plans to slash research budgets, warning the country will loose its high-tech edge.

“The panel’s approach of judging science purely from a cost perspective completely lacks vision,” said 2001 Nobel Chemistry prize winner Ryoji Noyori. “I wonder if the panelists are ready to face the judgement of history.”

Kyoto University professor Shinya Yamanaka, a pioneer of embryonic stem cell research, told reporters: “I am deeply concerned about the development, which is just beyond my imagination.”

“You cannot predict achievements, that’s science,” he said. “I’m worried about Japan’s future.”

It certainly sounds familiar and it seems as if there is a fad sweeping governments ’round the world as they cut back on science funding and/or focus on the short term goal of realizing financial benefits in the immediately foreseeable future. The only exception, the US, seems to be holding firm to a commitment to basic science. If you know of any other countries doing so, please do let me know.

In the three years I’ve been tracking nanotechnology research I’ve noticed that female researchers are few and far between. During a research project in 2007, I asked one of the few I’d come across about my observation and ran into a metaphorical stone wall (she really didn’t want to talk about it). Apparently this dearth of female nanotechnology researchers is a reflection of a larger issue. From the news item on Nanowerk,

Despite a rise in their numbers, female scientific researchers remain a minority, accounting for just 30% of all scientific researchers in Europe. Furthermore, the more senior positions in science and research are still heavily dominated by men. These are some of the main findings in the latest ‘She Figures’, statistics on women in science in Europe which are produced every three years by the European Commission and the Helsinki Group on Women and Science. ‘While some trends are positive, the fact that women remain underrepresented in scientific careers should be a worry for all of us,’ commented European Commissioner for Science and Research, Janez Potocnik. ‘This gender imbalance in science is a waste of opportunity and talent which Europe cannot afford.’

I realize this is a European report but I think it reflects the international situation and, point well taken, it “is a waste of opportunity and talent.”

For a complete change of pace: Nanovor is a new game for 7 to 12 year olds. Yes, it’s all about nano. I find the storyline a bit strange, from the news item on Nanowerk,

Nanovor is based in a rich fictional world where nanoscopic monsters, known as Nanovor live and battle inside computers. These nanoscopic dust mites ruled our still-molten Earth, long before any other species could survive. As Earth cooled and the atmosphere became oxygen-rich, the silicon-based Nanovor slipped into deep hibernation for billions of years. In 1958, when silicon was embedded within a computer chip and electricity pulsed through it for the very first time, the Nanovor sprung back to life.

The business model reminds me of the sticker craze that one of my nieces participated in when she was about 7 or 8 years old. She started collecting stickers to put into books. New themes for stickers and their books were constantly being added to the product line and she was always trying to catch up. This game which can be downloaded free has booster packs (additional nanovors) that can be purchased.  If the game becomes popular, the booster packs (the equivalent of a new sticker theme) will become essential to playing the game.

There is a video about the game at the link to Nanowerk that I’ve provided. After viewing the video I’d say the game does seems a bit male dominated especially when you go to the game’s website and look up the main characters: Lucas, Mr. Sapphire, and Drew (female) who are listed in that order here but it is early days and these things can change over time.  The company producing the game is called, Smith & Tinker, and their tag line is: Reinventing play for the connected generation.

Happy weekend!

Canadian nano in Ontario; Germany’s position on labeling cosmetics as nano products; combing quantum tangles; 1st undergraduate nanoscale science studies programme in US

Today I have a lot of short news bits. First, there’s some Canadian nanotechnology news. The Ontario government is investing $3.8M in Vive Nano and its environmentally friendly process for creating nano materials and products. The funding is being disbursed through the Ontario government’s Innovation Demonstration Fund.

I took a look at Vive Nano’s website and it’s short on detail. They make the claim that their products are environmentally friendly without substantiating it. On the plus side, there’s a very descriptive video about their process for developing nanoparticles which you can access by selecting ‘our technology’ from the ‘what we do’ pulldown menu on the home page. (If you want to read more details from the news item on Nanowerk, go here.)

I was surprised to find out that Germany had resisted the European Union’s new requirements to label nanotechnology-derived ingredients in cosmetics and beauty products as such. From the news item on Nanwerk,

One of the key elements of the new streamlined laws is a clause requiring companies to print the word ‘nano’ in brackets after any ingredient which is smaller than 100 nanometres in size.
“All ingredients present in the form of nanomaterials shall be clearly indicated in the list of ingredients,” according to the new legislation.
However, Germany took the view (pdf download) that highlighting the fact that a product contains nanomaterials could be viewed by consumers as a warning.
German officials noted that cosmetic products that are for sale in the EU must already pass stringent safety tests, implying that the inclusion of nano-scale materials should not warrant additional scrutiny.

I believed there was more unanimity of thought regarding labeling and concerns about health and safety regarding emerging technologies in the European Union (EU). In hindsight, I suspect that’s because most of the material I read about the EU is written after the discussions and disagreements have been resolved or smoothed over in some way.

I’ve been wondering where the metaphors have disappeared to in the last few months as the nanotechnology announcements contain fewer and fewer of them. Happily I found a new one the other day. From the news item (Straightening messy correlations with a quantum comb) on Nanowerk,

Quantum computing promises ultra-fast communication, computation and more powerful ways to encrypt sensitive information. But trying to use quantum states as carriers of information is an extremely delicate business. Now two physicists have shown, mathematically, how to gently tease out unwanted knots in quantum communication, while keeping the information intact.

The scientist as a hairdresser? Teasing and combing out knots? It’s very different from the more usual science fiction reference and it hints at creativity (good hairdressers are creative).

The University of Albany is really pulling out all the stops lately. In addition to their NANOvember events they have just announced the first undergraduate programme for nanoscale science studies in the US. From the news item on Nanowerk,

The College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (“CNSE”) of the University at Albany announced today that it is now accepting applications for admission to its groundbreaking undergraduate program, which represents the nation’s first comprehensive baccalaureate curriculum in Nanoscale Science.

As I commented in a previous posting (Nov.9.2009), IBM did invest $1.5B into New York state for a nano research centre and it would seem that this new university programme is very well set to provide future employees.

One more thing, girl scouts. 200 of them were hosted by the CNSE in a Nano Explorations Program. From the news item on Nanowerk,

The event was part of CNSE’s celebration of NANOvember, a month-long community and educational outreach initiative that includes a series of programs and activities highlighting the increasing impact of nanotechnology and the global leadership of the UAlbany NanoCollege in the most important science of the 21st century. The event included a presentation on the emerging science of nanotechnology and the career opportunities it offers; hands-on activities that showcased the role of nanotechnology research and development, with a special focus on clean and renewable energy technologies; a gowning demonstration that illustrated how researchers prepare to work in CNSE’s state-of-the-art cleanrooms; and tours of CNSE’s Albany NanoTech Complex, with tools and facilities that are unmatched at any university in the world.

What really impresses me with the NANOvember programming is the range and imagination they’ve used to communicate about nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology and European NGOs; 2009 Nobel in Physics has Canadian connections; China’s nanotechnology roadmap; Canada Research Chair Hongbin Li

Lately (as in this year), there’s been a lot of substantive interest in regulating nanotechnology:

  • the recent joint Transatlantic Regulatory project which brought together the London School of Economics, Chatham House, the Environmental Law Institute and the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) for a report and a series of presentations.  (I discussed the PEN presentation here.)
  • the recent announcement from the US Environmental Protection Agency about their new nanomaterials research which will presumably result in discussion about regulations. (I mentioned the announcement here.)
  • the January 2009 announcement by Environment Canada that they would be conducting a one time nanomaterials inventory. This type of announcement offers the distinct possibility that future regulation may be on the agenda. (I first discussed  this initiative in my Feb. 3, 2009, Feb. 4, 2009, and Feb.8, 2009 postings.)

Now a new group has issued a report, the European Environment Bureau (from the news item on Nanowerk),

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB), Europe’s largest federation of environmental citizens’ organisations, launched a report (“Nanotechnologies in the 21st Century – A Critical Review of Governance Issues in Europe and Elsewhere (October 09”)  outlining the critical governance structures needed for the safe development and use of nanotechnology.

You can read more here.

As I noted in my headline, the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physics has some Canadian connections. From the Fast Company article by Kit Eaton,

Half the prize went to Charles Kao for work that led to long-distance fiber-optic communications. Born in Shanghai, he was educated in the U.K. and worked in one of the early companies that became the current Nortel (emphasis mine). This is where he did research into the fiber-optic systems available at the time, which had been puzzling scientists and engineers by not nearing their theoretical efficiency, and remaining good only for short-distance signaling. Kao’s experiments proved the reason behind these inefficiencies was impurities in the glass making up the fibers–this effected the refractive index of the medium as well as how much light was wasted by scattering instead of being neatly piped down the fiber to the receiving electronics.

The other half of the prize was shared by Canadian (emphasis mine) Willard Boyle and American George Smith for their co-invention of the Charge-Coupled Device. This little optically-sensitive chip, with its neat shift-bit way of getting data from the individual light-sensitive pixels to the data pipe that connects the sensor to a computer, is basically the invention that made possible the whole field of digital photography.

If you have any interest in China’s science and technology scene, Springer and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have announced that they are publishing a series of reports, roadmaps for the next 40 years.  The first reports are out on Oct. 14, 2009 and there will be more in 2010. I see that one of the 2010 reports will be on nanotechnology. For more details, you can go here.

I almost missed the announcement that Dr. Hongbin Li at the University of British Columbia has received a Canada Research Chair in Molecular Nanoscience and Protein Engineering. Congratulations Dr. Li! I posted a two-part interview in 2008 that  Dr. Li kindly granted me here and here.

ISEA 2009 and bioart (part 1); Nano-Society book

I’m mentioning a bioart panel discussion that I attended at the 2009 International Symposium on Electronic Arts (ISEA) as a precursor to part 4  of my series on Science Communication in Canada.

The panel discussion, Is the (Art) World Ready for Bioart?, held on Saturday, August 29, 2009 was moderated by Andy Miah and featured  Tagny Duff with Kathy Rae Huffman, Laura Sillars, Kerstin Mey, and Anna Dumitriu.  The panel arose as a consequence of a controversy that erupted after Duff’s art work was accepted for exhibition. Duff had proposed a showing of her work with a modified (dead) HIV/AIDS virus injected into pig tissue and also into human breast tissue with resultant ‘bruising’ marks in the tissue.

First off, the only comment I’m going to make about the art aspect to this project is that it’s highly conceptual and not my kind of thing. There are many people who find these kinds of works (bioart) important and worthwhile.

Duff is a Canadian and an assistant professor in communication studies at Concordia University (Montreal, Canada) and has an extensive background in media and studio arts.  About her latest work (from the faculty page at Concordia),

The research-creation project “The Cryobook Archives investigates the strangeness of wet and cryo-suspended bodies in an era when art and science is increasingly turning to computer generated and digitized bodies to extend human knowledge (and life). In particular, the project considers how book form is evolving from the skin of trees (paper) and animals (leather), digital pages via the internet and computation screens, to biotechnological applications and cryogenic tissue banks. The creation of limited edition book/ sculptures series made from human and animal tissue, biological viruses and immunohistochemical staining is the means for thinking through the changing status of bodies in the postbiological era. This project is funded by The Canada Council for The Arts.

I wish Duff had mentioned this description when she spoke at the panel as this helps me to understand her work much better. At the panel, she was focused on the process that occurred after her work was accepted for exhibition. Because the exhibition was being held in Northern Ireland the laws of the United Kingdom came into effect when Duff applied to send her artwork to Belfast for the exhibition.

There is a law/regulation which is unique to the UK. I’m not sure if it had something to do with the dead virus or the tissues that form Duff’s art pieces but a government bureaucrat misapplied a set of rules which pertain to this law/regulation and refused Duff’s art work entry in the UK.

Duff did some detective work and determined that the law/regulation did not apply to her art work and the government official reversed the decision. However, the institution that was hosting the exhibition had some concerns and wanted to exhibit the work in a room that was removed from the other exhibits and (if I remember rightly) would require that a visitor open the door to the exhibit with a key. The artist agreed and then somehow the institution (or perhaps it was the ISEA 2009 organizers?) decided that this particular art work could not be exhibited.

All of this led to the panel discussion where Duff discussed the entire process and the chief ISEA 2009 organizer (Kerstin May) talked about some of the difficulties from her perspective.  ISEA 2009 is organized by various committees and it’s those committees which make the decisions about who will and won’t present and/or exhibit. There are many, many potential exhibitors and conference presenters from around the world making submissions so it’s already quite demanding. The symposium was further complicated by the fact that it took place in Belfast, Londonderry/Derry, Coleraine, Dundalk, and Dublin. I also had the impression that much of this transpired in the last few months (if not weeks) before the conference and anybody who’s organized anything will tell you, you can’t deal with this kind of a problem at what is effectively the last minute.

I found the whole discussion quite illuminating. First, Duff displayed a mindset that I associate with scientists. She presented a logical, well-reasoned case. She’d gotten permission from the patient who donated her breast tissue for the project and the virus she used is a dead virus commonly used by researchers around the world, including the UK. She mentioned that she’s a professor and she noted a couple of papers (along with a list of her co-authors) that will be published soon. All of it identical to behaviour I’d expect from the science mindset I mentioned earlier right down to the fact that Duff did not seem to grasp the nature of the concerns (panic) she had set off.

We (not just scientists) sometimes forget that other people are not us. They have different experiences, reference points, and opinions. I can’t be certain of my insights but I do think the ‘mad cow’ disease in the UK has had a profound effect on how the population there views any number of issues associated with science. As well, the GM food (aka frankenfood) controversies affected European populations in a way that I don’t think Canadians understand very well.

More on this tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Michael Berger of Nanowerk has written Nano-Society – Pushing the boundaries of technology. You can read more about it by clicking the link (Nano-Society). I imagine that the book is an expansion of the articles he’s written on the Nanowerk site. I’ve always found Berger’s writing to be very clear and informative, presumably the book will be the same.

Transatlantic Regulatory Cooperation tidbits; TAPPI and the nanotechnology forestry conference in Alberta; a modern House of Wisdom

I caught only part of the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) event, Transatlantic Regulatory Cooperation, due to two factors. (1) I was busy posting here and so was late to the live webcast. (2) About an hour after I started watching, something (either my system choked or the Wilson Center facility was having difficulties or I lost broadband speed for some reason)  happened and the live webcast became unwatchable.

This was an international collaborative project titled, Regulating Nanotechnologies in the EU and US. Researchers from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), Chatham House, the Environmental Law Institute (ELI), and PEN at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars worked together to produce a report, a briefing paper, and a slide presentation about their findings and recommendations that can be downloaded from here.

The Washington, DC presentation was yesterday (Sept. 23, 2009) at the Wilson Center facility. There were two panels and I missed the introduction for the first group but I did recognize the moderator, David Rejeski who’s PEN’s executive director. The discussion was about the report and the recommendations.

One of the more interesting bits was the mention of a discrepancy between the UK and EU food industries submissions to some sort of inquiry. The UK representative claimed there are 2 nano type food products on the market (in the UK,  i.e. Europe) while in an earlier meeting elsewhere an EU representative claimed there are 20 such products on the market in Europe. No one was able to explain the discrepancy, which is troubling.

As for the participants in the project, there was general agreement that some sort of regulatory system needs to be developed quickly. Amongst other recommendations:

  1. Voluntary reporting of the use and manufacture of nano materials should be made mandatory.
  2. There should be a ‘technology label’ for food and cosmetic products that contain nanomaterials.
  3. A global approach to nanotechnology regulation that draws together major players such as China and India, as well as many others, needs to be adopted.

There was some mention of Canada at one point. I believe the speaker was referring to an Environment Canada initiative, i.e. a one-time inventory of nanomaterials used in manufacturing products which is mandatory. (I commented on this matter in my Feb. 3, 4, and 6, 2009 postings.) I haven’t heard anything about their progress lately but it is used as an example of a mandatory nanotechnology inventory. Interestingly, they never mention that it is supposed to be one time only.

As for the second panel (moderated by Dr. Andrew Maynard, Chief Science Advisor for PEN), this was oriented to some of the practicalities of introducing nano regulation into current regulatory environments. At least, I think that’s what it was about as things began to malfunction shortly after the introductions.

TAPPI (Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry) held a nanotechnology forestry conference in Alberta this last June. I should have mentioned it at the time but, trite as it is,  better late than never.  From today’s news item about the conference on Nanowerk,

More than 180 nanoscience experts from 12 countries met in June to discuss the potential of nano-enabled biomaterials. Held in Edmonton, AB, Canada, and co-sponsored by TAPPI and the Alberta Ingenuity Fund, the conference revealed developments for revolutionizing paper and wood products, as well as capturing sustainability-focused markets with bionanocomposites and capitalizing on wood-derived nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC) and nanofibrillar cellulose (NFC).

The 2010 conference will be held in Helsinki, Finland.

The House of Wisdom existed from the 9th to 13th centuries CE (common era) in Baghdad. Originally intended as a library whose main purpose was for the translation of books from Persian into Arabic, the House of Wisdom became a centre for the study of the humanities and sciences that was unrivaled in its time. One of its great scholars (Al-Khawarizmi) is known as the ‘father of algebra’. They invented the library catalogue where books were organized according to subjects. Note: I was recently at the oldest library at Trinity College in Dublin and the guide mentioned that those books are organized on the shelves by size, weight, and the colour of their bindings. (I got my information about the House of Wisdom here in Wikipedia and from a Nanowerk Spotlight article by Michael Berger.)

I mention the House of Wisdom because of Berger’s article which uses it as a metaphor to discuss a modern attempt to recreate the ‘house’,  this time, in Saudi Arabia. A new, 36 square kilometer,  science/technology campus/city called the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) opened yesterday on Sept. 23, 2009.

From the article,

Much more than a future elite university, the vision behind KAUST is to create the nucleus of a modern society, free from the strict religious dictates of a conservative Islamic culture, and laying the foundation for a science and technology based society of future generations.

This sounds quite ambitious for a conservative Islamic country that doesn’t have public entertainment facilities such as cinemas or theaters – they are regarded as incompatible with Islam; where most schools have focused on religion much more than on science and other modern knowledge; and where a strict interpretation of Islam imposes many restrictions on women’s daily lives.

This all is supposed to change with mega projects like the $8bn Knowledge Economic City (KEC), the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) a $26.6 billion project that will generate more than 500,000 jobs upon completion in 2016; and nearby KAUST, intended to catapult Saudi Arabia’s education system into the 21st century and prepare its society for the time after oil. This move to a knowledge-based society is a top priority for the country – in 2009 alone, 25.7% of Saudi Arabia’s budget has been allocated to educational development.

As an oil-producing country, Saudi Arabia is getting ready for a time when there won’t be any left to pump out of the ground. Do read the article as there’s much more about the facilities which, according to Berger, “… will enable top-notch nanotechnology research.”

It reminds me a little of the situation in Alberta where they are currently trying to extract oil from sand only because the oil that was easy to access is almost gone while heavily investing in emerging advanced technologies such as nanotechnology.

Nano haiku and the Good Nano Guide

So hard to imagine
Tiny atoms one by one
Make new properties
Thank you to the folks at NISE (Nanoscale Informal Science Education) Network and, of course, Robin Marks. NISE Network has added a few items to their site that I think are really great. They have an image collection which includes copyright free and scientifically vetted images well worth checking out in their Viz Lab.  Here’s a sample image of a silicon nanomembrane from the collection,
Shelley Scott, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Shelley Scott, University of Wisconsin-Madison

NISE is also offering a nano play, Attack of the Nanoscientist, courtesy of the Science Museum of Minnesota. They have the script and instructions for anyone interested in mounting the play.
The Good Nano Guide (a wiki administered by ICON [International Council on Nanotechnology] at Rice University) which Victor Jones mentioned a few weeks ago in his comments here has been cited  in a commentary on regulating nanotechnology in Nature magazine. The commentary is behind a paywall but you can find an earlier version of the article on Andrrew Maynard’s (he’s one of the authors) 2020 Science blog here.
I finally took a few minutes to check the Good Nano Guide and find it quite interesting. They offer a glossary of terms and a search engine that I used for the term ‘titanium dioxide’ amongst other features. The search engine brought up the standards for using titanium dioxide. It includes current standards and standards being developed by every organization you can imagine (IEEE, BSI, ISO, ASTM, etc.) so it seems quite comprehensive.  I do not find the glossary definitions to be helpful to me (but I’m an amateur and this project is oriented to the science community). I checked out the term nanoparticle and variants and the definitions seem vague.
Finally and because it’s Friday, I couldn’t resist this
tidbit on Nanowerk News about nanotechnology used for cleansing the colon. It originated on Tim Harper’s TNT blog here in one of his June 30, 2009 postings. Harper is associated (I think he’s the principal/CEO/president) with Cientifica, a nanotechnology business consultancy.