Thursday, August 30, 2007

Serious nanotox reporting, for a change

nanotoxFor those who are interested in the issues surrounding nanotechnology and toxicity, but would like to get beyond the bumper-sticker pseudoscience of the anti-sunscreen crowd, the relatively new journal of Nanotoxicology sounds like a worthwhile read. The publication just came out with its second issue.

Well, I can't actually, um, read it since I can't afford the $164.45 subscription rate (now, if it were only $164.42, then perhaps I could bust open the piggy bank for it), but I'm sure someone out there will fill me in. Although I'm sure this journal lacks the side-splitting humor of the recent Friends of the Earth anti-sunscreen manifesto (pdf), I'm sure Nanotoxicology makes up for it in serious scholarship.

Truth is stranger than prediction
UK sets up a fragmented nanopolicy
Made-up science attacks makeup
Nano is a concept by which we measure our pain

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The anti-idiot box

Where can you find hot new videos featuring Structural Evolution of the Protein Kinase–Like Superfamily? Why, at SciVee TV, of course. Careful, though. It's still in Alpha. It crashed my system twice. I guess you need a quantum supercomputer to run some of the videos. Still, a great idea that can be built upon.

Monday, August 27, 2007

My plural marriage with Utah students

My contribution to higher education for the coming semester: My rescue and reposting of a video clip of Jim Carrey and Conan O'Brien teaching drummer Max Weinberg a thing or two about quantum mechanics has made it onto the syllabus for Physics 3740: Introduction to special relativity and quantum mechanics at the University of Utah. Not bad for a former English and Journalism major.

Government Created Killer NanoRobot Infection
Welcome, Rice University students
Einstein's dice and the nano Sopranos

Thursday, August 23, 2007

My Brand X nanotech blog

X-OLOGY marks the spot for nano in Michigan, from the dendrimer wars to modeling DNA. But it could be a limited-time offer. The local tech/lifestyle magazine is trying out this blog thing for August to promote its special summer nanotech issue. My contributions (free registration required) can be found here and here.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Made-up science attacks makeup

The Angry Toxicologist says: "... don't eat your sunscreen. Good advice anytime."

Thank you, AT. At last, an answer from a pro to the "Friends of the Earth" use of made-up science to attack nanotech in sunscreen.

FDA should put in more face time
Friends of the Earth releases nanotox report
Truth is stranger than prediction

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Truth is stranger than prediction

This is why you should never post anything on a blog at 3:31 a.m., no matter how much sense you think you make at the time ...

So, government bans are bad, yet drive innovation, so they are good. A scientific opinion is fact if enough of the culture believes it to be so ... until the belief falls out of fashion or is dropped out of sheer boredom ... A police state is peace, British Petroleum is green, left and right each support fascism (left in Iraq, right in the U.S.), the environment can be cleaned up through bumper stickers and rock concerts, and we all lived with Fred Flintstone and Dino just a few thousand years ago, sunscreen is dangerous nanotech while molecular manufacturing is impossible, therefore safe ...

I mean, you just can't make this shit up. Stranger than fiction. Welcome to the future, my friends. More here

I love my responsible friends at the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology. And friends don't let friends contemplate their own belly buttons for too long.

The truth is, most science fiction -- even in the "golden age" (a time period usually defined by whenever the reader was a lonely teenager with no friends holed up in his room reading SciFi to escape real life) becomes caricature over time, since the future is never really "one thing."

"Predictions" of early 21st century life from the vantage of the last century all appear to me to be cartoonish, since it is ridiculous that we should become "a society of ..." fill in the blank. Instead, life goes on much the same, as our toys become more sophisticated. Almost all pictured either a new fascism arising out of those who control the new technology, or some kind of dull "Star Trekkian" egalitarian society somehow free of bigotry, superstition, hate and humanness.

Even the oft-cited "1984" in the end seems cartoonish to me today, despite the fact that any form of government control or monitoring of anything at all turns "Orwellian" in the exaggerated pen of lazy writers who feel they can just use the catch-all "Big Brother" epithet to end all debate.

I would find the whole lament over lack of decent science fiction pretty funny, except there's a slight edge of truth to the claim that SciFi influences the direction the future will take. I'd go a step further and say that it influences the present, since all one has to do is bring up the specter of an exaggerated, imagined dystopia to get some segments of the public all riled up against any technology.

Why, even sunscreen can be a harbinger of an Orwellian future. "Friends of the Earth" (the group's own self-appointed designation), in its just released Anti-Nano-Sunscreen Manifesto (pdf), very correctly, and I might say responsibly, includes the fine print that the "jury is still out on how readily and how deeply nanoparticles penetrate skin." So far so good. Then it goes on to mention food packaging. Yes, good. Very real. Then, uh-oh ... we're off in Asimov-land:

"And the technology could potentially further affect our lives – from crippling our security and privacy with the creation of never-before-seen weapons and surveillance systems to altering the fabric of the clothes we wear and creating batteries from viruses constructed at the nano-scale. ..."

Heeelllpp!!! Run for the hills!!!! The nano-virus batteries in our suntan lotion and stain-free nanopants are altering my DNA and turning me into a DARPA robot!!!!

I love escapist science fiction. But. Nahh. We really don't need any more SciFi influencing current debates. Like I wrote at 3:31 a.m. to my friends at CRN. Just take a look at the bizarre events swirling around technology in real life.

Irresponsible NanoHype

Friday, August 03, 2007

Bourne and Bourne again

bourne1   bourne2    Bourne and Bourne

While a fictional Jason Bourne broods, shoots and stumbles his way onto the silver screen today, a book released almost simultaneously, Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Betrayalappears on the shelves. In this one, our favorite amnesiac gets some mind-altering nano ... um ... things implanted in his brain in the hopes it might shake his memories loose. Of course, something goes wrong. Horribly, Horribly wrong, with the nanobots in Bourne's brain.

Now, this new Bourne book is not to be confused with the other Bourne nano book scheduled to be shipped Aug. 18. In this action-packed thriller, nanotech analyst Marlene Bourne discusses the very real nanotech embedded into everyday products.

And, while I have been accused of writing fiction in the past, I can tell you with absolute authority that Marlene Bourne's “A Consumer’s Guide to MEMS and Nanotechnology” is nothing but the facts. I helped her review the manuscript as she was writing it.

So, nanotech fiction today, nanotech fact Aug. 18. Now, that's worth remembering.

Nanotech analyst Marlene not Bourne yesterday
Straight-up info on nanotech regulation
QuoteBot: Wet Dreams and Nano-Hype