Please stand by, more blogging to come. There has been a great deal of nanotech news to comment on recently, but I'm holding my tongue for now. Meanwhile, just as a side note: As the above photograph indicates, it's kind of a relief to be working again for a paper publication, where your words can lend some inspiration to any occasion.
Friday, December 22, 2006
Thursday, December 14, 2006
My career has traversed through many twists and turns and has met with too many dead ends and blind alleys over the past few years. Therefore, it is refreshing for me to get back to basics. I am a reporter covering technology and manufacturing for the Oakland Business Review in suburban Detroit. And, like my own career, the story of Metro Detroit is one of continuous change that must be met with continuous adaptation in search of stability.
This blog will remain devoted to nanotech, and I will likely launch a new blog devoted to my new beats. But, as a preview, here is a snippet of one of my first stories for the Business Review.
In a drizzle-drenched parking lot attached to a dull block of buildings on an aesthetically challenged warehouse side of the tracks in Ferndale, Scott Thornton shows a new driver how to fire up the comparatively colorful two-seater he says he's about to churn out of his factory by the hundreds.
Yes, that's "click." Not "vrooooomm, purrrr!" Just "click," and the engine is "running." Can't even call it running, really. It's just ... on.
Thornton points out the "gas gauge ... or, electricity gauge," correcting himself. Wiper, fan, radio and a mysterious black button. Press that baby, and the hot little neon-lamp of a car kicks into a "turbo boost," of sorts, doubling its speed.
But don't expect to feel any cheek-rippling g-force. The speedometer goes up to 80 kilometers per hour (about 50 mph), but the top speed on the Kurrent electric vehicle is 25 mph in Michigan, by law. And the engine is programmed to go no faster.
Laugh all you want, but while the old internal combustion-based auto companies eject workers out the exhaust, Thornton says his company is about to fill his factory with 50-70 new employees, assembling pieces of the energy future. More here
Posted by Howard Lovy at 12/14/2006 01:42:00 PM
Friday, December 08, 2006
Monday, November 27, 2006
The nanotech "industry" is again the victim of its own hype. It adopted a broad definition of nanotech to attract more investment. If it appears that nanotech is already big business and already incorporated into hundreds of products, then the illusion is created that it's not such a risky investment. Come on in, fellas, and bring your checkbooks.
As time goes on, though, we'll see the "industry" move to a less broad definition. But the damage has been done. It made the mistake of believing its own press releases. What's worse, anti-nanotech activists believed the hype, as well. If nanosize ingredients -- even in stink-free socks -- are something special and different, then they need to be treated as such, and tested.
There's an internal logic of its own here, yet I cannot help but ponder whether all the stink over nanosized ingredients in cleaning products will ultimately be good for real nanotechnology. After all, the custodians working at the labs where scientists are creating engineered molecules to cure diseases, make drinking water safe and end poverty need to clean the clean rooms and laboratory bathrooms with safe material. And all those scientists working late hours without changing their socks need some protective footwear for the sake of their coworkers.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Just revving up the blogmobile to see if she'll start cold after sitting unused in the driveway for so long. I'll start with an easy one.
Well, yes, of course it should regulate nanosilver, just as it regulates macroscale silver as anti-microbial agents in products such as pesticides. This falls under the category of "no new regulation needed for nanotech," since this regulation already exists.
The problem here is that silver, whether nanoscale or macroscale, is still clunky old technology that -- standing alone -- cannot be controlled very well since it kills good (or unintended) microbes as well as bad. To me, that ain't nanotech. That's nanoscale stuff being sprinkled into products.
There are, however, real efforts (random one here) being made to create polymers (nano and not) with safe antimicrobial properties. That's the spirit of nanotech. Engineer in the good and engineer out the bad, then let those little buggers loose.
Update: I wonder would I should do now with my SoleFresh NanoSocks? I have been told, in the past, that my footwear could be considered toxic waste, but now it appears that this otherwise subjective opinion could get me into trouble with the EPA.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Friday, November 03, 2006
A few years ago, those who told fantastic tales of nanobots were accused by prominent scientists of perpetuating images that "have scared our children." Turns out, the evidence says the opposite is true.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
David Rejeski, director of the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, told the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during a hearing today that "there are currently 130 nano-based drugs and delivery systems and 125 devices of biomedical devices in preclinical, clinical or commercial development — an increase of almost 70 percent just since last year. While FDA already has approved some products with materials in the nanosize range, prospects for future growth in this area—and the burden it will place on the agency’s resources — are striking."
Take a look at Rejeski's comments and presentation here. The title of the presentation: "FDA and Nanotechnology: Public Perceptions Matter."
I could not agree more. This simple fact was one of the reasons behind this blog's launch back in 2003. But, in my contrarian tradition, let me add one further warning: Public perceptions can be more easily manipulated when it comes to a science and technology filled with as many unknowns as nano.
Like my old ink-stained journalism prof. drummed into my head back in the mid-'80s, take a look at the interest your source has in certain outcomes (or perceptions), and of course seek out more than one avenue for information.
I spoke just yesterday to a leading nanotech scientist and entrepreneur for a freelance story I'm working on. I asked him about the FDA preparedness issue. The answer I received surprised me. Not only is the FDA well informed about the specific nanotech-based drugs that are about to cross its desk, but the National Nanotechnology Initiative is getting ready to launch a pretty convincing campaign to show the public exactly what is known about these new-generation drugs.
I won't give away the store yet, but stay tuned for more on that.
Ex-FDA official concludes FDA needs more dough
Nanotech hocus group
Taking toxicity out of quantum dots
Nanotech's 'difficult foe'
Perception is de facto nano fact
FDA should put in more face time
Posted by Howard Lovy at 10/10/2006 11:49:00 AM
Sunday, October 08, 2006
I have known MEMS and nanotechnology analyst Marlene Bourne ever since my stint a few years ago at Small Times magazine, where she was a columnist and I was news editor. I have always admired the way she injects a voice of reason into any topic she writes about, whether it's MEMS accelerometers for automotive air bags or the latest trend in nanotech-related investing: "cleantech."
The latter is the topic of one of Marlene's podcasts, where she continues her tradition of cutting through all the latest hype-and-deflate media cycles and gets to the bottom line. And, knowing Marlene, any opinion she gives -- even in the brief podcast format -- is backed by research and data. Everybody should check out her latest venture, The Bourne Report and associated podcasts, including this one on the cleantech investment bandwagon.
Marlene has seen hype before, so I believe her when she writes that although investors have put a lot of money into renewable energy -- also known as green power or cleantech -- and have flocked to anything related to solar energy, you need to look at what's commercially available now.
"Given the level of funding these startups have received and the number of new companies that continue to enter this segment, in my opinion I think there's a bit of a bubble emerging here. I've definitely seen it happen before," Marlene says.
Marlene talks about how the cleantech investment phenomenon is not new, but the difference now is that enabling technology, including nanotech, is finally almost ready for prime time. New nanomaterials and fabrication methods make for photovoltaic cells that are smaller and more efficient, for example. But, Bourne warns, we're still looking at a minimum of five years before there's any real market impact of note in next-generation solar cells.
Marlene does see two other small tech enabled energy applications that are more near term. I won't give it away, though. Listen to find out.
Posted by Howard Lovy at 10/08/2006 11:51:00 PM
Friday, October 06, 2006
Thursday, October 05, 2006
I suppose I need to give you my take on the big nanotech story of the day. Here are just the facts, ma'am: The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, a group whose mission is to identify regulatory gaps in nanotechnology, hires a former U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) official to do a study that concludes, surprise, there are regulatory gaps in nanotechnology at the FDA that can be solved if more money and authority were to be funneled into his old office.
There's a great deal of new nanotech-themed fiction out there that I've been neglecting. I wish I had time to read them all, but I'll do my best to find reviews as I go along. I got out of the habit of covering the cult (or culture) of nanotech for a while. But that has always been an important mission of this blog. The way we dream has a direct impact on our reality.
And if any loyal reader has read a book, watched a film or played a videogame with a nanotech theme and would like to write a review for NanoBot, please drop me a note.
Here's a review from SciFi.com of the first book in what promises to be an exciting series exploring the gap between nano-enabled immortals and those who are still falling toward that out-of-fashion thing called death.
Oh, and if you want to buy the book, click on the picture from my blog and Amazon will toss me a few coins.
The Last Mortal Man
If you have enough money, nano-biology has the cure for what ails you—even death Review by Cynthia Ward, SciFi.com
Trillionaire Lucius Sterling is the founder and owner of Sterling Nanotech. But he didn't invent the nanotechnology that feeds the world and provides Deathlessness to the super-rich. That technology was invented by the brilliant idealist Leonardo Fontesca, who wants to save everyone in the world from death. But Fontesca is only an employee of Sterling Nanotech. Lucius Sterling decides who is worthy of immortality, and he allows only a few rich people to become Deathless. The assassins seek to liberate Deathlessness for everyone. More here
Posted by Howard Lovy at 10/05/2006 10:16:00 AM
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Dendritic Nanotechnologies Inc. (DNT) and Starpharma Holdings Limited (ASX:SPL, USOTC:SPHRY), today signed an agreement for Starpharma to acquire the outstanding equity of U.S.-based DNT for $6.97 million, payable through the issue of Starpharma shares. Starpharma currently owns 33% of DNT, and The Dow Chemical Company is the other major shareholder, with a 30% equity stake.
The transaction is subject to DNT shareholder approval, which is expected to be obtained in the next two weeks. DNT will retain its corporate identity, remain a U.S. corporation based in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, and will become a wholly owned operating subsidiary of Starpharma.
The resulting company will be positioned as the global leader in dendrimers, holding a dominant IP portfolio in the field of dendrimer-based nanotechnology. More here.
BackgrounderNanomedicine story: The writer's cut
Day of the Dendrimer
The Tale of Tomalia
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
David Talbot of Technology Review makes up for his magazine's previous inadequate nanotox reporting in his blog post subtitled: The study of "nanotoxicity" might seem more compelling if there was an actual nano-victim out there. That says it all. Thank you, David.
Let the facts interfere with your nanotox story
Posted by Howard Lovy at 10/03/2006 11:15:00 AM
Barnaby Feder of The New York Times reported last week on one weakness inherent in the U.S. nanotech funding system: A grant here, a grant there, but there seems to be nobody really in charge of the vision thing. Feder reports:
In testimony on that (National Research Council's) report last Thursday before the House Science Committee, some experts said that the less than $40 million being spent on such (safety) research each year is not only too little but that the effort has been an incoherent reflection of the interests of the many individual researchers supported by various government agencies.
In a reflection of the challenges ahead, one leading expert told the committee that any centralized effort by the government to try to focus such research on the toughest questions could be fruitless. More here
This stands in contrast to Germany, which (surprise) has a comparatively regimented and more-efficient nanotech funding system set up. Back when I was invited to nanotech conferences, I remember speaking to a German representative who showed me a map of her country, with each region blocked off to indicate public-private partnerships devoted to particular areas of nanotechnology.
Germany has nine regional "networks of competence" (PDF, 2.53 MB). For example: nanoanalytics in Munster, nanobio in Munich, nanochem in Saarbrucken, nano-optics in Berlin, etc.
I thought then, and still do, that this system would never fly in the United States. We just hate being told what to do by the federal government. Do we need regional focus and a nano kaiser at the top? It sure would make the train of nanotech progress run on time, but ...
Posted by Howard Lovy at 10/03/2006 10:26:00 AM
While nanotech scientists and promoters continue to bark up the wrong tree over the as-yet nonexistent movie version of Michael Crichton's "Prey," the WB network has tossed them a new bone to pick.
Well, more like a snack. A Scooby snack.
A ... nanotech ... Scooby snack.
Yes, you read this correctly. Scooby-Doo has gone nano, and no amount of whining and begging from those engaged in non-cartoon nanotech can stop it.
It seems that Shaggy had a rich uncle, Albert Shaggleford, who disappeared: "Zoinks! We're like gaziillionaires Scoob!" Uncle Albert was also a genius who left the clueless Shaggy with some nanobots that, of course, get mixed in with his mutt's Scooby-snacks. Zany side-effects ensue, with Scooby given the ability "to fly or turn into a giant robot."
Now, let's see whether those meddling nanoscientists will start barking about the toon, or roll over and play dead.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
A Yom Kippur prayer that seemed to speak directly to me this year:
Keep me far from petty self-regard and petty pride, from anger, impatience, despair, gossip and all bad traits.
Let me not be overwhelmed by jealousy of others; let others not be overwhelmed by jealousy of me. Grant me the gift of seeing other people's merits, not their faults.
Posted by Howard Lovy at 10/01/2006 09:30:00 PM
(Full disclosure: I was a communications consultant for Nanorex when the Machine Design article was written.)
Maybe it's just me, but it's painful to watch this video (.mov 8.36 MB) of a focus group, sponsored by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, discuss nanotechnology, safety, risk and regulation as they relate to cosmetics. It appeared that these women were given neither adequate information nor time to form opinions on the subject.
I am no expert on focus groups, and whether this one was meant to represent only a single snapshot in time, with follow-ups planned, but this video standing alone tells me only one thing about public attitudes toward nanotech in cosmetics: It's a naked face waiting to be powdered, rouged and mascaraed by whichever nanotech makeup artist gets to them first.
Posted by Howard Lovy at 10/01/2006 06:17:00 PM
Lobo lineman uses his smarts on field and in the classroom By Rick Kretzschmar, Longview (Texas) News-Journal
John Todd someday wants to be in a field most people don't know about: nanotechnology. Todd said he understands when he gets reactions such as, "Nano what?" when he tells people about this field, which is the application of materials and devices on an atomic scale.
Todd also plays football for Longview High School, but even when he strolls the team's locker room — Lobo Den — nanotechnology runs through his mind.
"With nanotechnology, you can build a microscopic sphere that can hold as much carbon dioxide as there is in the entire Lobo Den," Todd said. "There are possibilities of creating energy with nanotechnology, with superconductors or hydrogen power."
It's not typical conversation for a teenager, let alone football player. Then again, Todd is not typical high school senior, and smarter than most people. More here
Thursday, September 28, 2006
NanoBot friend Richard Jones (friend to the blog, that is, but not necessarily to 'bots), is in charge of a challenge placed before British scienists for "software control of matter at the atomic or molecular scale." Applications are being accepted until Nov. 6 for participation in "a five-day sand-pit to look for innovative ways to explore whether we can design and construct a tool or method to arrange atoms or molecules to a blueprint." Just remember to play nice, boys and girls, and don't throw sand. Safety first.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Nanotechnology: Good Things in Small Packages (By Glenn Reynolds, writing in Popular Mechanics)
"Then there's the nanotechnology that's just, well, fake. It may turn out to be the most dangerous kind to date. Earlier this year, newspapers reported that a German cleaning product called Magic Nano had been recalled after dozens of users suffered lung problems.
"Was this a sign that industry and regulators couldn't be trusted to keep nanotechnology safe, that we were all doomed, doomed? Apparently not. A few weeks later, it was reported that Magic Nano didn't actually contain nanomaterials. It was just a marketing slogan designed to trade on the reputation of nanotechnology as something revolutionary. Nobody knows why the users got sick, but it had nothing to do with nanotechnology." More here
Posted by Howard Lovy at 9/27/2006 10:53:00 PM
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Remember Re-Mission, a video game featuring a nanobot named Roxxi who blasts away cancer cells? That one was aimed at cancer sufferers. Now, a new game prototype has appeared aimed at students in biology and immunology classes. The game is called Immune Attack, produced by the Federation of American Scientists.
"A teenaged prodigy with a unique immunodeficiency must teach his immune system how to function properly, or die trying," the group says in a news release. "Using a nanobot and aided by a helpful professor, the teenager explores biologically accurate and visually detailed settings in pursuit of this goal."
Bethany and Alex Maynard: The Woodward and Bernstein of the nanotech age? Watch (.mov 20.1MB) how they grill their dad, Andrew Maynard, chief scientist with the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
The first one is 2 years old now, but is so tall he is often mistaken for a 4-year-old. And the youngest one is 1, also a giant. But this specimen has recently evolved into a biped. Excellent. Excellent. Once he is old enough to develop his own musical tastes, I hope he retains his love for Johnny Cash. Click above to see the subject "Walk the Line."
Monday, September 25, 2006
Congratulations to Patrick Lin and his Nanoethics Group, which was just awarded a three-year, $250,000 National Science Foundation grant to study the ethics of human enhancement and nanotechnology.
Patrick, in a news release, says:
"The ethics of human enhancement technologies is widely held to be the single most important debate in science and society and will define the 21st century. Today, human enhancement may mean steroids or Viagra or cosmetic surgeries. But with the accelerating pace of technology, some of the more fantastic scenarios may arrive sooner than people think – such as advanced cybernetic body parts and computers imbedded in our brains – which magnify the ethical issues involved."
I've been saying for years that this issue is going to become more and more politically divisive -- ever since a warning against enhancement popped up in the nanotech bill in Congress back in December 2003. I hope the Nanoethics Group's study goes a long way toward getting some data involved in the debate rather than pure emotion.
I also hope the group allows more than token religious voices in the study. While some opposition to enhancement comes from the far left (don't mess with Mother Nature), a great deal of the political opposition will come from the religious point of view -- and I do not mean only the religious right.
This is no criticism of Patrick's group, but I have noticed a shortage of the voice of religion within ethical debates over nanotechnology. This is due to many factors, but primarily the traditional antagonism between scientists and the religious.
The result, I believe, is often scientists being "out of their depth" when it comes to discussions about the implications of their own work. At worst, this exclusion means that the concerns of millions of people in the world are laughingly dismissed out of hand. Many scientists have simplistic, or grade-school-level, ideas of religion and the role it plays in the public at large and base their debates on science and ethics on these simplistic assumptions.
To exclude the role of religion in ethical debates over nanotechnology would be the equivalent of a group of religious leaders who have a passing interest in physics getting together to determine the merits of string theory vs. loop quantum gravity, and think it ridiculous to let physicists participate in the debate.
Rational science for an irrational world
Converging ideologies against human performance
You say you want an evolution ...
Better, faster, stronger?
Congress is thinking about thinking
Evangelicals and Nano-Gnosticism
Nano superhero is, appropriately, a golem
Friday, September 22, 2006
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Checking the readout on my nanoscamometer, this latest slice of NanoBaloney scores three Mr. Haneys (out of, oh, let's say six), since this snake oil is probably less harmful than steroids and I give the writer credit for the ability to use a broad range of impressive sounding words (and even one acronym) to say absolutely nothing.
SportMedix, Inc., a subsidiary of ProtoMedix, Inc., has announced their first group of nanotechnological-based sports supplements specifically designed for professional and amateur athletes is ready for market. These sports supplements, called C.L.E.A.N. (Compete Legally Excel Athletically with Nanotechnology), have been endorsed by ASAP (Anti Steroid Athletics Program) as a safe way for athletes to improve their health and mental abilities. ...
SportMedix Inc. is a developer of nano-structured bioregulators, controlling the biological processes responsible for normal functionality of all organs and tissues, as well as optimizing and correcting the operation of all three major body systems: endocrine, nervous and immune. More here
Monday, September 18, 2006
This feature on Arrowhead Research Corp. in Fast Company magazine, written by my friend and former Small Times correspondent Michael Fitzgerald, was based on an idea I pitched to Michael back when I did some public relations work for Arrowhead.
I do not want to insult Michael or Fast Company by making it appear that they are overly influenced by nanotech pitchmen, and Michael is experienced enough to know fluff from substance, but this is one example of how I can help nanotech companies get some media attention.
I have discovered that many firms are discouraged with professional PR agencies that not only have little clue as to what appeals to journalists, but also struggle with explaining their technology to the masses. I have no such problems.
Anyway, I've pitched a few companies (nano and non) recently on my ability to get results as a PR person. More examples are available by request. Here's a snippet of Michael's Fast Company story:
Nano Is Nice
Bruce Stewart is building a nanotech research conglomerate.
Bruce Stewart doesn't look like a nanotechnology magnate. At 69, he's old enough to dodder. He doesn't always finish his sentences. He doesn't have a PhD, and his background is in investing, not science. His business strategy? Be nice.
"My dad told me, 'Always have a smile and be friendly, and it'll pay back tenfold,'" Stewart says. He plans to make money with a daring approach to funding technology: He's trying to corner key nanotechnology research, then develop it commercially. His company, Arrowhead Research Corp., has assembled more than 160 key patents in nanotech. It has started four promising companies, and it's sponsoring research at Duke, Stanford, and the California Institute of Technology.
Arrowhead is far enough along, in fact, that two of its shareholders upped their stakes by almost $20 million in January, although the company likely won't deliver significant revenues for at least two more years. "If nanotech is going to be a big business, Stewart will have built the model," predicts Doug Thomas, president of JET Investment Research in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. More here
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Friday, September 15, 2006
"If Ikea made nanotech laboratories, this is what they would look like," reports the Chemistry World blog in a teaser to the publication's planned feature on the new Molecular Foundry in Berkeley later this year.
"Bare wood and beige carpets" contradict the "foundry" image that brought anti-nanotech protesters out to the construction site during the past couple of years. No, this is not some nanotech update to a Diego Rivera mural of an industrial plant, where exploited workers and unsuspecting townspeople are breathing in nanofumes belched from nanosmokestacks.
This is a new kind of multidisciplinary foundry of the mind, where scientists from many disciplines now find their work converging on the nanoscale. I can't wait to find out what comes out on the other side of the assembly line.
Posted by Howard Lovy at 9/15/2006 08:05:00 PM
A. A dwarf criminal
B. A small-town snake-oil salesman
C. A tiny, ideologically driven foreign policy adviser to the Bush administration
D. An unfortunate name for a nanotechnology convention
Nanotech's real danger is the nano con
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Those who are interested in nanotech and toxicity, or want to know what measures the U.S. government is taking to ensure the safety of nanomaterials being proposed for pharmaceuticals, might want to subscribe to this new publication by the Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory (NCL).
The NCL was created as a resource for all private-sector nanotech cancer researchers to help them transition their concepts to clinical applications and to facilitate contact with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
I spoke a little while ago with NCL Director Scott McNeil. I caught him just as he was taking a break during a conference on nanotoxicity. McNeil said he found it "remarkable" that, outside the media spotlight, groups like Environmental Defense and government agencies were able to meet and do more than just argue.
The NCL was created only a year ago, and one of the first issues it is working on, McNeil said, is the need for similar characterization methods and standards. Let's make sure that scientists at Stanford and MIT, for example, can compare results by speaking the same language.
I couldn't tell you what the different measurement standards are, but I can imagine it might be about as confusing as when I drive through Canada to get from Detroit to upstate New York. Paying Canadian dollars to buy "imperial gallons" of gas leaves me wondering exactly how much the darn transaction really cost me.
Another area where there is a "critical lack of understanding," McNeil said, is in structure/activity relationships. For example, what makes a drug-delivering molecule like a dendrimer more or less toxic? Is it size alone? What about when scientists monkey around with the surface charge? What happens in various size/surface charge combinations with different types of nanomaterials?
To put it even more simply: When you read in your local newspaper about how scientists are unsure about all these "strange new properties" that exist at the nanoscale and that's what scares the bejeezus out of everybody, remember that it's not only about the size of your particle, baby. It's how you charge it. And don't believe the claim that the U.S. government is not doing anything to figure this stuff out.
The NCL. Don't launch a nanotech initiative without one.
Posted by Howard Lovy at 9/14/2006 03:29:00 PM
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
It has been a hazy 48 hours. My 1-year-old had a fever-induced seizure and I spent a wonderful night with him in the ER and pediatric ward. They're common, yet incredibly frightening if it happens to your kid. He's fine now. The only damage is to daddy's sleep cycle (don't even want to think about the bill right now). The experience did remind me what nano is all about when it comes to diagnostics, though. Can't we get those damn test results in sooner?
Posted by Howard Lovy at 9/13/2006 06:09:00 PM
Monday, September 11, 2006
Without realizing it, I've made Sept. 11 an almost-annual tribute to my daughter. 2003, 2004 (2005, I was on a blogabbatical). So, happy birthday, Sonya. It's a sure sign of aging, I know, but I can remember the day of your birth 15 years ago with a great deal more clarity than I can recall any single day of last week.
Posted by Howard Lovy at 9/11/2006 10:56:00 AM
Friday, September 01, 2006
But enough about me, let's talk about me. As we established in Week One: NanoBot Held Hostage (until Howard gets a job), I am a well-respected man among those who have worked with me, followed my work or have used my tummy as a trampoline. But, you may ask, "Is that all there is to you, Howard? There are a great many other competent editors out there looking for work. To say you're a dime a dozen would be an insult to the dime. What else can you do?"
And, to that I would answer, "Mom, please try to say positive things about me in public, but you do have a very good point."
What my resume might not reflect (and, come to think of it, I should probably add this to the document) is my research work these past two years since leaving Small Times. In addition to providing countless backgrounders for members of the media looking for information about nanotechnology in general or about the companies I've done contract work for, I also:
There's more, but I do take the phrase "nondisclosure agreement" very seriously and will certainly not blog them. And, as you might know, a large part of the job for a magazine assigning editor -- especially one covering a technology that had never before been covered as a business -- is conducting research during the assigning, rewriting and editing process. So, during the five years that I've devoted to covering this little nano corner of the world, I've done a great deal of behind-the-scenes work that you will not necessarily see in my clips, but that has resulted in better final products.
Despite my loudmouthed, opinionated, egotistical, nutty-for-nanobots blog persona, I am also quite comfortable quietly sifting through background material on the nanotech of "here and now" and using my insights and experience to help spot trends. Those of you who read a great deal of literature about nanotech as a science, business and investment have probably read my work and not even known it.
Posted by Howard Lovy at 9/01/2006 02:17:00 PM
Friday, August 25, 2006
Nanotechnology news hounds, please stand by. This is one of the few times in NanoBot's three-year history that I've had to hijack this blog in the name of the first two words of the title: Howard Lovy. That's me. And I will continue to hold this indispensable nanofont of nanoinformation hostage until I have a full-time job with benefits (four weeks of vacation and use of a company jet would be nice, too, but I'll start ... um ... small).
So, I'll start off this infomercial for me with some testimonials that colleagues have posted on the business networking site LinkedIn. At no time were any of these people bribed, blackmailed, medicated or otherwise coerced.
"Howard does unique and insightful research and has helped me keep fresh on topics in ways I wouldn't have thought." -- Scott Livingston, Managing Director - The Livingston Group, Axiom Capital Management
"Howard is an excellent editor. He consistently made my stories better by asking the right questions, and suggesting smart changes to my pieces. I would recommend him as an editor for any publication." -- Mark Frauenfelder, editor-in-chief of MAKE, O'Reilly Media
"I am a regular reader of Howard's blog, which is one of the more well read and respected blogs in the nanotechnology space. His forthright commentary on various matters related to nanotech is always refreshing to read in an increasingly hype-filled and paranoid world. His knowledge of the field is top notch." -- Deepak Singh, Director, NanoBiology Initiative, Accelrys
"Howard did an excellent job directing news coverage of nanotechnology at Small Times. He was clear on what made a good story for Small Times, insisted on smart analysis that went beyond the news, as well as clear definitions of the science involved. Howard also made sure his writers saw proofs of stories, a rarity in the online news world." -- Michael Fitzgerald, writer, editor
"Dadda is a nice, big fat man whose tummy is fun to bounce on." -- Sam Lovy
Posted by Howard Lovy at 8/25/2006 09:14:00 PM
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Posted by Howard Lovy at 8/24/2006 12:05:00 AM
Friday, August 18, 2006
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Another Yahoo! Answers topic: "Is nanotechnology all hype or the real deal?"
Answers range from the equivalent of "You're already soaking in it" to "it doesn't exist yet." The thing is, they are all correct, depending on how you want to define nanotech. (I lean toward the latter, but not all the way).
I guess the main problem I have with Yahoo! Answers is not that some of the "answers" are questionable, but that the questions do not stay open long enough for the self-correcting peer review process to go into effect. For that, I'll stick with Wikipedia.
Posted by Howard Lovy at 8/09/2006 04:48:00 PM
Friday, August 04, 2006
Remember THRONG (The Heavenly Righteous Opposed to Nanotech Greed)? I'm not sure, but I think they won the Nobel Peace Prize a year or so ago for their incredibly clever protest against nanotechnology. Employing a different tactic than their anti-nano cousins, THONG, a group of fully-clothed "angels" performed their street theater at a nanotech conference in Buckinghamshire, U.K.
This video harkens back to December 2004, angelic chants of "no no nano nano no, no no no nano no no," sage words like, "We believe that nanotechnology is going to be a major can of worms. It's going to release all sorts of harms onto society and onto the environmnent" and the group's presentation of its "can of worms" award to Harry Swan, an ex-Monsanto official and now a nano-evangelist.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
This spin on UNESCO's Ethics and Politics of Nanotechnology report concludes that developing nations are unlikely to lag behind the industrial world in nanotech research (this is correct, since poorer nations will likely focus nano research on their specific needs). But then it explores some dangerous, deadly territory:
The report's editor, John Daly, says there is an urgent need for scientists to explore the potential hazards of nanotechnology, because materials at the nanoscale behave differently to how they do in bulk.
"Where the effects of the nanomaterials are dangerous, regulation may be appropriate. But we don't have a very good understanding of where those dangers lie," he told SciDev.Net. More here
Proceed with caution here. Remember DDT? The industrialized world, having already eradicated malaria in its own backyard, decided to impose DDT bans on the developing world. The result has been death in Biblical proportions. Beware the well-meaning Westerner who believes he knows what is best for the rest.
If you don't believe me, listen to buckyball co-discoverer Sir Harry Kroto, who wrote in 2003:
"Malaria has returned with a vengeance, and it is heart-rending that because of the DDT embargo - imposed with the future (mainly of westerners) in mind - a million African children die each year."
Posted by Howard Lovy at 8/01/2006 11:18:00 PM
I wonder if those who are demanding "nano" labeling standards would want to crack down on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), whose Nano Air Vehicle program involves no actual nanotechnology.
Update: My friend Jack Uldrich has the scoop at The Motley Fool.
I have to chuckle every time this happens. Popular Science has a story on the old "nano bad/nano good" debate. The groups the magazine chose to represent opposing sides are the Foresight Nanotech Institute and the ETC Group -- both of which have been marginalized by the nanotech research and business communities in the United States and accused of engaging in dubious science. (In fact, you could argue that both are really on the same "side," if there really can be "sides" to a science. Both began their existence with warnings about irresponsible use of science and technology.)
Anyway, as I've been writing ad nauseam for years, the popular press and wider culture all but ignore the nanotech research and business communities that have been working very hard to marginalize Foresight. It is still Foresight, along with others who have a better handle on what gets the general public fired up, that has the attention of the masses.
The "legitimate" nanotech community should pay close attention to this phenomenon.
Posted by Howard Lovy at 8/01/2006 01:59:00 PM
Saturday, July 29, 2006
The makers of ABC's "Lost" have "laughed off the idea that the monster is just a cloud nanobot," according to news reports. Hmm. Sure looked like one to me (althought the only nanobot swarm I have ever "seen" was on the cover of Michael Crichton's "Prey").
The connection? I'm getting to it.
The plotline and characters in "Lost" are eerily similar to those in the "Dark Tower."
Thursday, July 27, 2006
In the "don't like nanotox conclusions, then wait for the next study" department, this report says quantum dots are now safe to sail inside the body. A year or so back, during a talk I gave to a group of eye specialists on nanotech ophthalmologic applications, a guy from Pfizer told me that quantum dots are too toxic for a major drug company to work with. That was the common perception at the time, anyway.
Quantum Dots Pose Minimal Risk To Cells in Tests Conducted By Federal Lab (By Jennifer Rocha, Nano World News)
Using an advanced toxicogenomics tool to study quantum dots, Fanqing Frank Chen, PhD, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and his team (including first author Tingting Zhang) reported that quantum dots pose little impact to cells.
These findings provide further evidence that quantum dots that enter a cell can provide many benefits, such as researching the inside of cells and identifying cancer cells to deliver treatment. Dr. Chen tells NWN, "The coating chemistry allows the quantum dots to be used for almost all in vitro biological applications. The whole genome analysis paves way for in vivo application of quantum dots." More here
And, just an aside here, when Dr. Chen is not working on making life better for us Earthbound humans, he's on the scientific advisory board for the Lifeboat Foundation, a group dedicated to launching humanity off this dirty little blue marble.
Posted by Howard Lovy at 7/27/2006 01:59:00 PM
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Not Just for Eatin': Blue Crab Nano-Sensor Detects Dangerous Substances (A. James Clark School of Engineering)
A substance found in crab shells is the key component in a nanoscale sensor system developed by researchers at the University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering. The sensor can detect minute quantities of explosives, bioagents, chemicals, and other dangerous materials in air and water, potentially leading to security and safety innovations for airports, hospitals, and other public locations. More here
How Thor the black lab can save the Earth
Posted by Howard Lovy at 7/26/2006 12:02:00 PM
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
In a widely circulated report by the Chicago Tribune's Jon Van, Lack of nanotech safety research 'serious', Andrew Maynard, a science adviser to the Woodrow Wilson Center's project on emerging nanotechnologies, is quoted as saying:
"No projects are specifically addressing the potential effects of nanomaterials in the gastrointestinal tract. Given the large number of current nanoproducts that are supposed to be eaten, such as food and nutritional supplements, that is a curious and serious omission."
A simple search reveals this claim to be false. Here are only a few I had time to find:
Posted by Howard Lovy at 7/25/2006 11:12:00 AM
Monday, July 24, 2006
"After 2015-2020, the field will expand to include molecular nanosystems--heterogeneous networks in which molecules and supramolecular structures serve as distinct devices. The proteins inside cells work together this way, but whereas biological systems are water-based and markedly temperature-sensitive, these molecular nanosystems will be able to operate in a far wider range of environments and should be much faster. Computers and robots could be reduced to extraordinarily small sizes. Medical applications might be as ambitious as new types of genetic therapies and antiaging treatments. New interfaces linking people directly to electronics could change telecommunications."
Mihail C. Roco, senior adviser for nanotechnology to the National Science Foundation and a key architect of the National Nanotechnology Initiative, writing in the August 2006 issue of Scientific American
Friday, July 21, 2006
This mad scientist is a physics graduate student at McGill University. Her research goal is to "better understand interactions between molecules and insulators to assist in the design and implementation of a molecular electronics device."
Looks to me like she is also learning something just as important -- the interaction between her real work and the way the public perceives it. She writes:
Moreover, with all of the increasing press "Nano" is getting, especially on the negative side, it will be crucial to the field of nanotechnology and nanoscience (I'm considering the -science as less applied work not likely to directly lead to commercialization) to provide information on the heath and safety of products coming to market. Otherwise, public paranoia is likely to develop which could shut down perfectly safe and viable technologies before they ever get a chance to mature. Misinformation, or worse, lack of information is a difficult foe to fight. More here
Posted by Howard Lovy at 7/21/2006 04:53:00 PM
Attention patent lawyers: Is this the first wave of the nanotech lawyer invasion? Initial nanopharma products will be reformulations of existing drugs.
Elan Sues Abraxis Bioscience for Patent Infringement on Cancer Drug (AP)
A lawsuit filed Wednesday in a Delaware federal court says Abraxane, a nano-particle formulation of paclitaxel, trespasses on two patents issued in the 1990s that cover methods of formulating anticancer drugs.
Abraxis is a Los Angeles-based biopharmaceutical company formed by the merger of American Pharmaceutical Partners and American BioScience. It recorded $134 million in Abraxane sales in 2005, the first year the drug was approved as a treatment for metastatic breast cancer. More here
I wrote about Abraxane for The Scientist last year. Searching through my files, I just noticed an odd coincidence. It looks like a writer from The Times of London and I think so much alike, we use practically the same wording -- poor sod.
Marketed by American Pharmaceutical Partners, Abraxane is the anticancer drug paclitaxel (Taxol), reengineered and reborn into a nanoparticle that hitches a ride on albumin, a protein already found in the body. Patrick Soon-Shiong, American Pharmaceutical's executive chair, says this is the first example of a nanoparticle-coupled human protein. The albumin molecule allows paclitaxel to cross blood-vessel walls to deliver the drug to where it's needed. More here
The Times' wording:
The breast cancer drug Abraxane, recently approved in America, is actually the existing anti-cancer drug Taxol re-engineered into a nanoparticle. This hitches a ride on the protein albumin, which is already in the body, and allows the drug to cross blood-vessel walls to the cancer. More here
Posted by Howard Lovy at 7/21/2006 02:53:00 PM
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
When Pam Omidyar was a research assistant in an immunology lab back in 1990, she would grow cancer cells in a lab by day and relax with some video games by night. Now, she combines both worlds at HopeLab, a nonprofit she founded in 2001.
The result is Re-Mission, a video game for cancer patients featuring a "microscopic, yet intrepid, nanobot named Roxxi" who blasts away cancer cells. The 10-minute video above explains the research that went into Re-Mission's creation.
There have been a lot of stories written about Re-Mission lately, each one explaining what a wonderful idea this is. But this one from IGN also looks at it from the perspective of, well, is it a good video game?
CNBC's Jim Cramer is "in a flummox," so the "Mad Money" magnate turned to Headwaters Inc. CEO Kirk Bensen for some unflummoxing. Headwaters does many things, among them is a better (nano) way of making catalysts that cuts down on waste and makes coal-to-gas technology more efficient. (I explained the technology in more detail here.)
"What the heck are all these alternative energy companies doing at a 52-week low?," asks Cramer in this video clip. A comparatively mild-mannered Bensen gave an honest answer that just did not satisfy "C."
So, the verdict: "Don't buy, Don't buy." "Damn that's tough," Cramer says. "I wanted that one to be a good one."
Philippines to launch NanoPower Revolution
Philippines to launch NanoPower Revolution: Part II
Headwaters Inc. makes nano waves
Have you ever, like me, let your mind wander during that semiconscious period just before sleep, that if only you could listen to the voice of Celine Dion serenading you on the beach with her musical interpretation of the word "nanotechnology" ... in French ... then you can call your life complete? At NanoBot, your wishes really do come true. This is a public service announcement done by Dion for the Sainte-Justine Hospital Foundation.
Posted by Howard Lovy at 7/19/2006 10:49:00 AM
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Yes, I admit it. I chose to post a link to this article just so I could use that headline.
Towards frictionless nanomachines (nanotechweb.org)
Friction is a big problem in nanosized devices because they have huge surface-to-volume ratios, which means that their surfaces quickly wear out and seize up. Traditional lubricants are useless in such machines because they become thick and sticky when confined in tiny enclosed spaces. Scientists therefore need to learn how to conquer friction if nano- and microscale devices are ever to become a commercial reality. More here
Posted by Howard Lovy at 7/18/2006 10:56:00 PM
Monday, July 17, 2006
This video illustrates how nanotech research and commercialization efforts are being picked up by local media as avenues for state boosterism and another yard(nano?)stick to measure how their state "stacks up" against the others -- much like the local sports team.
The talking hairdo anchorman in this clip from Oklahoma has it right in his opening line: "Attracting investment into the state is literally a global competition." (Then, the insight is ruined by a giggling description of nanotech as the "study of the itty-bitty.")
Reporter Jessica Lowe does a variation of the tired old "human hair" analogy by using an inch-long piece of thread and asking us to imagine it subdivided into 25 smaller pieces, then each of those into a million smaller pieces. Each of those million pieces represent a nanometer. This, of course, sends me tail-spinning back into the realm of Zeno's Paradox (see here, and here), but I give Lowe lots of credit for the attempt.
The report then focuses on the work of NanoBioMagnetics Inc., based in Edmond, Okla. Lowe interviews company founder Charles Seeney, but does not mention that he was also the driving force behind the recently created Oklahoma Nanotechnology Initiative.
No more dust storm blues
Posted by Howard Lovy at 7/17/2006 03:22:00 PM
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Highly accomplished author and journalist Philip Ball has a wonderfully insightful blog called homunculus, beside which NanoBot appears to be the little man. He provides some great cutting-room-floor material from his Nature articles, including this post on fear of nanoparticles.
And Ball is all business on his blog. None of those immature, off-topic ramblings that annoy so many blog readers. Ball's Blogger profile brags that he (links added by me) ... "will not include any pictures of or stories about my holidays, friends, dogs, or gripes about the world ..."
You tell 'em, Phil.
Posted by Howard Lovy at 7/13/2006 12:12:00 PM
According to this news release, India Tops in Nanotechnology Related Google Search. Yes, well NanoBot readers already know that. But that's not what's interesting about this release.
What I noticed first is the source, a site called NanoIndian. It's apparently an offspring of NanoDaddy. These sites claim to be run by "nanotechnologists having several years of research experience." But as near as I can tell, these nanotech portals contain no original content and run purely off RSS feeds and a combination of Yahoo and Amazon ads.
Not that there's anything wrong with trying to make a few bucks or rupees by automating news aggregation. In fact, mazel tov to the entrepreneur. He's likely to make more money in his first month than I have in three years of blogging.
Posted by Howard Lovy at 7/13/2006 11:27:00 AM