Now that the NanoDays 2013 (Mar. 30 – Apr.7, 2013) events have to come a close, NISE Net (Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network) reports are due if you received a physical kit (report deadline: May 1, 2013). Go to: http://www.nisenet.org/blog/nanodays/nanodays_2013_reports-_tell_us_about_your_events, according to the May 2013 issue of NISE Net’s The Nano Bite, for reporting information.
I have a few more items that I’ll be highlighting from this month’s newsletter including a project that I think is great. The Discovery Center designed a LEGO competition with the theme: Senior Solutions which required that kids design products to assist seniors.
→ BIG Nano Experiences at the South Dakota Discovery Center
The South Dakota Discovery Center (SDDC) has always promoted cutting edge science and supported youth in their community. Currently touring the Nano mini-exhibit to schools and libraries throughout the Dakotas, SDDC works hard to bring their programming to students in underrepresented areas. Earlier this year, SDDC helped a local elementary/middle school robotics team achieve great success at the FIRST LEGO League State Tournament in Sioux Falls, SD.
Using nanotechnology, the TechnoKids Lego Robotics team wished to develop a concept for Muscle Assist Clothing to help improve mobility for senior citizens. This idea was prompted by the 2012-13 competition’s theme “Senior Solutions.” In addition to building and programming a robot, the teams had to research and propose a solution to a problem within the theme. For the task, the TechnoKids interviewed senior citizens about the difficulties they faced with mobility as they aged. Based on interviews, the team developed the idea for a pair of pants that would use carbon nanotubes and sensors to stimulate muscles in elderly individuals who needed assistance walking or standing up. [emphases mine]
For more on these programs and the winning FIRST LEGO League team, contact SDDC Executive Director, Kristie Maher. To read the full SDDC partner highlight, click here. This highlight by Christina Akers of the Science Museum of Minnesota, the regional hub leader for the Midwest region.
On a completely other note, Nano Bite May 2013 also makes mention of the musicians, They Might Be Giants, in the context of their latest album, Nanobots, and their interview in Wired magazine. Brian Heater who wrote the Apr. 3, 2013 article gives an extensive overview of the band’s science songs (Note: A link has been removed),
“Well, that’s gonna be a short conversation,” says John Linnell of They Might Be Giants laughs, when I kick off my conference call by asking about his band’s science background. “It’s been great talking to you,” jokes his bandmate John Flansburgh.
While I’m surely not the first to discover that the musical duo have no formal training in science and engineering, the impending release of Nanobots, the Brooklyn band’s 16th record, certainly brings up old questions about where precisely the duo gets off singing about those fields of study so frequently. Flansburgh manages to frame the issue in most succinct — and characteristically arcane – manner: “If scientifically minded people are looking for the clearest example of the Peter Principle in the 21st century, it is They Might be Giants being allowed to make an album about science.”
But if the band is “rising to their level of incompetence,” at least they’ve still tried to teach us all a thing or two along the way about Nikola Tesla, self-replicating technology, and Particle Men.
Here’s what Linnell had to say about Nanobots, from the Heater article (Note: A link has been removed),
“Nanobots,” Linnell insists, is so much more than the title of the band’s forthcoming LP (and recent EP). For one thing, it’s also the name of the album’s second track, which contrary to popular belief is not simply an exploration of tiny robots. “Some of the nerdologically-inclined people I’ve spoken with are assuming that that’s the topic,” says Linnell. “’Nanobots’ is kind of about the general theme of reproduction. Really, it’s about having children.”
It’s a natural progression, really, from writing albums for children to comparing them to self-replicating technology. Linnell, whose son Harry made a cameo on the band’s 2005 kids record, Here Come the ABCs, adds that “it’s this notion that when something or someone reproduces, then you lose control of the product. And that’s this sort of cliche, when people are talking about nanotechnology, that it’s going to get out of control. But I sort of feel the same way about having kids.”
At least those self-replicating kidbots can be subdued with one of any number of TMBG’s kids records. For now.
Having watched and listened to the video, it looked like a ‘grey goo’ scenario (for those not familiar with the scenario, here’s the Wikipedia Grey goo essay) to me but judge for yourself,
If you’re interested, Heater’s article covers a lot more than Nanobots and includes many audio clips of science songs from They Might Be Giants.
For the last bit from the May 2013 Nano Bite, I’m highlighting this poem,
Future medical servants
Values shape technologies
What is our future?
Brad Herring of the Museum of Life & Science provides his own poetical takes on nanobots, referencing the article Nanobot Miniature Drones Could Advance Micromedicine.
For anyone who wants to see the full May 2013 issue of The Nano Bite, go here.