We are in the process of uploading all chapters from the entire Talking Nano 6-Disc Set to our group’s NanoNerds channel on YouTube. We’re excited to make the series available online as it will enable broad access to the series. The YouTube playlist differs from the DVD’s in that each chapter is individually titled at its open and close to provide context. This is important in the world of video sharing where clips sometimes appear in unexpected contexts! At this time, Disc 1, A Brief Intro to Nano with Tim Miller, and Disc 2, Don Eigler and his Dog Argon: Moving Atoms are up and running on NanoNerds and the entire set will be uploaded in chapterized form soon.
The recent $800 billion stimulus package signed into law in February has the potential to push nano research forward. A recent news story from The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies states:
The nearly $800 billion stimulus package being debated in Congress contains a number of measures intended to improve information technology, infrastructure and the energy economy in the United States – all areas that will be greatly aided by nanotechnology. However, without an increased focus by the federal government on possible risks posed by engineered nanomaterials, many of the potential societal advancements created by the emerging technology could be compromised.
Clearly the Obama administration is invested in areas where a great deal of nano research is focused, such as the development of new battery technologies and cheaper and more efficient solar panels. However this article notes that the percentage of federal dollars spent on assessing the potential risks associated with nanotech is still too far too low, potentially jeopardizing future nanotech research.
Nobel Prize winner Sir Harold Kroto reviewed Talking Nano in Materials Today, and gave our 6-DVD set two thumbs up. It’s always gratifying to receive positive feedback on our work, and particularly from someone whose work has been so important in the field of nanotech. Read about Sir Harry Kroto here (Wikipedia) or here (his personal site). An excerpt of the Materials Today review follows:
‘Nanotechnology and the consumer’ by David Rejeski -David Rejeski’s lecture was the most interesting. I did not expect to be as interested in it as the others but to my surprise I felt it was the best and arguably the most important. He overviewed many of the key issues and especially the socio-economic factors surrounding nanoscience and his assessment of the hazards kept my attention throughout. The most important aspect was that he made use of a wide range of statistically significant data and explained it well. I would say it was the most important overview of the field and should be seen by as many journalists as possible so that the media are well-informed with up-to-date and expert advice. It is a very good teaching presentation for scientists as well as for the public. I rate it as one of the most important science/society presentations I have heard, and very well presented too.
NECN broadcast this SciTech Today segment on January 28, 2009, and it explains some of the potential risks and benefits of silver nanoparticles in consumer products. Nano-sized particles of silver are terrific at fighting bacteria and mold, and are being used in hospital settings and for food storage. But they’re also being incorporated into more casual types of consumer products, like children’s toys and clothing. Some scientists believe silver nanoparticles in a rapidly increasing array of consumer products could impair the effectiveness of wastewater treatment plants, and accumulate in rivers and streams, harming wildlife.
In addition to Talking Nano, our group at the Museum of Science, Boston produces live SciTech Today segments for NECN (the New England Cable News Network) on the latest developments in nanotechnology, nanomedicine, and nanoscience. This segment aired on January 21st, 2009 – the day after President Obama’s inauguration, and reveals what happened when University of Michigan researcher John Hart brought nanotech, politics, and art together.
David Rejeski’s talk Nanotechnology and the Consumer (Talking Nano, Disc 4) can now be seen in its entirety on the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies website here. The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies was established in April 2005 as a partnership between the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Pew Charitable Trusts, and Rejeski serves as its director.
The Project’s website - http://www.nanotechproject.org/ is an extraordinary resource, and includes many of the inventories mentioned by Rejeski in Nanotechnology and the Consumer, including manufacturer-identified nanotechnology-based consumer products, and the US NanoMetro Map.
The Project also makes all of its publications available to the public. These reports make for extremely enlightening reading about nano-specific challenges, as well as about ongoing dialogues between science, industry, government and the public.
Professor Eric Mazur (Disc 3 – guiding Light with Nanowires) is renowned not just for his group’s work in nanotech: he’s also at the forefront of new teaching methods that are improving the success rates of students. According to this recent New York Times article, MIT has adopted Mazur’s techniques that make classes more interactive and engaging. Instead of the traditional format, where a professor holds forth from the front of a cavernous lecture hall in front of hundreds of students, physics students at MIT now enjoy smaller classes, and work in small networked clusters. An excerpt of the article appears below:
The traditional 50-minute lecture was geared more toward physics majors, said Eric Mazur, a physicist at Harvard who is a pioneer of the new approach, and whose work has influenced the change at M.I.T.
“The people who wanted to understand,” Professor Mazur said, “had the discipline, the urge, to sit down afterwards and say, ‘Let me figure this out.’ ” But for the majority, he said, a different approach is needed.
“Just as you can’t become a marathon runner by watching marathons on TV,” Professor Mazur said, “likewise for science, you have to go through the thought processes of doing science and not just watch your instructor do it.”
Our appreciation goes out to Andrew Maynard, Chief Science Advisor at the Wilson Center Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies for writing the first review of Talking Nano. Andrew reviewed TN at 2020Science.org where he blogs primarily about nanotech and synthetic biology with the tagline “Providing a clear perspective on developing science and technology responsibly”. The posts run the gamut from descriptions of backyard experiments with Mentos and Diet Coke, to musings on experiments in geoengineering. Great material on doing science responsibly in a cultural context.
On the Talking Nano reviews front, we’ve been promising additional reviews for a while and while they are in the pipeline, we’re learning that the DVD review process takes weeks or months. I’m confident that we’ll have additional reviews to add to the site in February however, so stay tuned.
- John Neely