Friends of the Earth Australia has published a special issue of their magazine titled Nanotechnology: Small Science, Big Questions! (4.3 MB PDF). It includes over 17 short pieces opposing or questioning the endeavor. On the upside, the group does appear to appreciate the magnitude of the changes that will eventually come from the more advanced [...]
Archive for the 'Biosphere' Category
Sorry for the late notice, but I just learned about the live webcast tomorrow at 10:30 AM U.S. East Coast time by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Wilson Center (ignore typo “Apr 11, 03:20 PM”): How “Green” is Nanotechnology? A Corporate Perspective “Nanotechnology has the potential to be doubly ‘green.’ It promises to [...]
As a battery engineer’s daughter, I appreciate how hard it is to make a better battery. Now Technology Review reports that some MIT researchers are taking a different approach: make a better capacitor. Excerpts: “The new technology, developed at MIT’s Laboratory for Electromagnetic and Electronic Systems, should improve ultracapacitors by swapping in carbon nanotubes, thereby [...]
A group of 15 companies and non-profit organizations today sent a letter to each member of the U.S. Senate and House Appropriations Committees, calling for an increase in federal nanosafety funding. While the National Nanotechnology Initiative legislation has included funding for creating new nanotechnologies, and for studying their societal impact, it did not mandate a [...]
Check out the Wilson Center website this Thursday, February 16, at 2-3 PM Eastern time for the first event of the Green Nano series, sponsored by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies: “The GreenNano series aims to advance development of clean technologies using nanotechnology, to minimize the environmental and human health risks associated with the manufacture [...]
From Nanotechwire.com: “Chemists at Italy’s University of Bologna, UCLA and the California NanoSystems Institute have designed and constructed a molecular motor of nanometer size that does not consume fuels; their nano motor is powered only by sunlight…The nano motor can work continuously without any external interference, and operates without consuming or generating chemical fuels or [...]
Now we have Jo Anne Shatkin of Cadmus Group on assessing risks of nanoscale materials. She described the process she uses, making the point that hazards are different from risks—no material is completely safe, and there is no risk if there is no exposure. Risk = hazard x exposure probability. Risk assessment is for making [...]
Next up: Shannon Lloyd of First Environment on the potential environmental benefits of nanotech. She uses a life cycle assessment process to evaluate potential nanotech products. She emphasized that there are always tradeoffs in making these assessments and decisions. Costs are included. So far they’ve looked at nanotech for auto body panels and automotive catalysts [...]
In today’s San Francisco Chronicle, Keay Davidson describes an Environmental Defense press conference calling for more testing of nanomaterials, and Foresight’s response: “Despite their cautionary tone, the Environmental Defense speakers’ remarks were welcomed Wednesday by Christine Peterson, vice president of public policy at the best-known institutional defender of nanotechnology, the Foresight Nanotech Institute in Palo [...]
[Update: see comments for link to full article] In an opinion editorial expected to run in the Wall Street Journal (subscription only) today [Update: it ran June 14], Environmental Defense President Fred Krupp and DuPont CEO Chad Holliday outline the steps that policymakers, academics, businesses and nonprofits need to take to maximize the potential and [...]
You may laugh, or at least smile, but the environmental benefits already resulting from the so-called nanotech toilet are substantial. With a “roughness” reported at under 30 nanometers, evidently these fixtures need much less cleaning, which means much less of that nasty chemical cleanser going down the drain. Oh, and they should be healthier for [...]
David Berube at U. South Carolina, in an ongoing campaign against nanohype, has been looking into complaints by the ETC Group that a nanoparticle product was approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs for use to prevent erosion on Taos Pueblo land in New Mexico. His conclusion: “a review of the actual event discredits their [...]
Call for papers due September 1 for a special issue of the long-term oriented Journal of Evolution & Technology: "How can genetic engineering and nanotechnology, used safely and effectively, help decrease malnutrition, starvation, and disease?…How can a specific emerging technology, like genetic engineering or nanotechnology, further global health and sustainable development? What are the safety, equity and intellectual property concerns?…What should the relative application be of the proactionary and precautionary principles in regulating new technologies promoting global health?" Big, complex issues meriting lots of exploration.–CP
Roland Piquepaille writes "Researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley Lab are using nanotechnology to learn how to clean up environmental contaminants like nuclear waste. They are also using supercomputers and state-of-the-art imaging to predict how quickly pollutants react with minerals in soils and aquifers. This article from the Daily Californian says they are studying kinetics, or rates, of reactions which occur at the earthís surface using a nanoscale approach. They started to look at the reactions that take place at the pore scale and plan to expand their scope from nanometers to meters in the months to come. This research has implications for transport of contaminants, especially of radioactive materials, but also for oil or ore recovery. This overview contains more details, references and a picture of a device used to grow and monitor nanocrystals important for our environment."
Christine Peterson points out a letter from Greenpeace UK Chief Scientist Doug Parr to the editors of the Times regarding comments from Tracy Brown from Sense About Science asserting that Greenpeace is opposed to nanotechnology. It appears that is not entirely accurate. They may support nanotechnology if a case can be made that the benefits outweigh the risks.
Dr_Barnowl writes "The Register has printed this article quoting Nanotechnology Linked to Organ Damage – Study in the Washington Post reporting that Buckyballs are toxic in concentrations around that typically found of other pollutants. While this is not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal, the reported toxic effects are severe enough to provoke concern." Instapundit Glenn Reynolds comments on the Washington Post story and what it means for the nanotechnology industry PR strategy with respect to MNT. Reynolds also provides links to comments on the story from bloggers Howard Lovy and Phil Bowermaster.
The following interchange between Foresight President Christine Peterson and Our Molecular Future author Douglas Mulhall resulted from a Small Times column by Mulhall titled Incorporate disassembly into every self-assembled nanotech product, first brought to our attention by Senior Associate Robert Bradbury. In this article, Doug Mulhall says that nanotech products are already being produced which cannot be disassembled by current technologies, even incineration or (presumably) by acids, etc. Foresight President Christine Peterson asks readers whether this is true; can examples be cited? "This seems unlikely to me, but I'm willing to be educated if there are indeed examples of this."
Dr_Barnowl writes "The BBC reports that scientists at Purdue university have mapped out the structure of cytochrome in blue-green algae.
Cytochromes are the core of the photosynthetic process, making them an interesting photo-electro-chemical curiosity and potentially a model for nanotech systems with similar functions, although less "squishy" alternates might be more efficient."
from the public-debate-is-healthy dept.
Following up the August 19, 2002 Nanodot post Opposition to Nanotechnology, waynerad writes to point out a more recent (September 6, 2002) Associated Press article Environmentalists wary of nanotechnology that quotes both environmentalists' fears about nanoparticle pollution and the replies of scientists that such fears are unreasonable and speculative. waynerad continues "Here is a contrary, optimistic point of view, similar to the view expressed in Drexler/Peterson/Pergamit's 1991 book Unbounding the Future. AP ran this story on how Nanotechnology May Aid Environment. To me, what is interesting isn't so much the specifics raised in either article, but the fact that people 'out there' (besides us) are obviously starting to think about this issue. Also, see Nanotech moratorium called bad idea, where Kevin Ausman, executive director for Rice University's Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology says, 'Nanomaterials are a prime opportunity for (science) to take a proactive approach (to public concerns).'"
from the can-we-work-this-out? dept.
Three Nanodot readers wrote (see below) about The New York Times piece Opposition to Nanotechnology by Barnaby J. Feder, August 19, 2002, which reports that "nanotechnology is encountering the kind of real-world headwinds that have impeded biotechnology." The central focus of the article is the concerns of the ETC Group about nanoparticles in the environment penetrating living cells and accumulating in animal organs (see "Call for moratorium on commercial nanomaterials," Nanodot July 29, 2002).