Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Next was the Nano-Image meeting in Columbia, South Carolina. This meeting brought together scientists, nano & society people, and art historians to talk (in excruciating detail) about the various uses and types of images at the nano-scale. What I took away from the meeting was that even among people who purportedly study nano, understanding of the topic is often lacking.
I'm now in Princeton where I'm looking at the papers of a physicist who Eric Drexler worked with in the 1970s. Tomorrow it's on to DC(again) for the History of Science Society meeting and then back to California. Whew.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Read more on USC's Citizens School of Nanotechnology here and here.
Monday, October 15, 2007
The specific realm of nanotechnology-driven food may be one arena where the analogy is more apt; though if most applications were to be niche-marketed, to say dieters or non-cooks, as opposed to food supply wide, this could reduce the volume or scope, if not the voracity, of scrutiny directed towards nanofoods.
In terms of public perceptions of nanotechnology, is it an asset or disadvantage to have public discussions about the merits and risks of nanotechnology-enhanced food?
Friday, October 12, 2007
Brigitte Nerlich, from the University of Nottingham, gave an interesting talk earlier today on images of the nanobot. Her answer to the question, "why is the image of the nanobot perpetuated in popular culture?" is that there are numerous images of nanobot to choose from -- meaning that when media outlets want to publish some kind of nano-image, they often license an image from an image firm. Well, if the firm has a preponderance of nanobot images, it follows that media outlets will be more likely to select them, right? Though the supply-and-demand argument was not the focus of Nerlich's talk, it is the taken for granted assumption behind it.
Nerlich did more of a content analysis (using both quantitative and qualitative methods) of nano-related images available for license at Science Photo Library (www.sciencephoto.com), a leading science image firm. She found that of 363 nano images, 128 were of nanobots. Of those 128, most were fantasy and artistic renderings. Click here to see what comes up at Science Photo Library for the search term nanobot.
Some of Nerlich's findings include:
1- most images are positive and/or utopian while very few are negative and/or dsytopian.
2- many nanobots had some kind of pincer, claw, or hand.
3- backgrounds of renderings tended to reflect blood, space, or the sea.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Also known as Retin-A and RENOVA in the U.S., trans-retinoic acid is approved by the FDA as a treatment to give smoother, less pigmented skin but it usually causes skin inflammation and skin irritation as well. Studies using the NANOEGG show no skin irritation, less wrinkles and reversal of hyper pigmentation-overall a better treatment. (Yamaguchi, Y. et. al. J. Control. Release 2005, 104, 29-40)
In light of our research at CNS, two questions come to mind.
1.) Would this nano-enhanced product be more readily accepted than others because of the current obsession with looking younger?
2.) How does the cultural environment influence public acceptance of the nanotechnology?
I can't find any indication that the product is being commercialized in the U.S., but the NANOEGG website shows a picture of their product (shown) which promises in French to "restructure and alleviate your skin."
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
A quick online poll of news headlines reveals the following:
Nobel prize for men who made iPod possible
iPods, Better laptops Stemmed from Nobel Prize Discovery
Physics of the iPod awarded Nobel Prize
Nobel Prize for magnetism experts who helped spawn the iPod
and my personal favorite:
Like your iPod? Thank this year's physics Nobelists
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
As NPR reported this morning:
France's Albert Fert and German Peter Grunberg will share the 2007 Nobel Prize in physics for a discovery that has allowed a radical reduction in the size and increase in the capacity of computer hard drives.The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in its citation on Tuesday the technology was "one of the first real applications of the promising field of nanotechnology," which deals with extremely small devices." Applications of this phenomenon have revolutionized techniques for retrieving data from hard disks," the prize citation said. "The discovery also plays a major role in various magnetic sensors as well as for the development of a new generation of electronics."
Fert and Gruenberg are two central characters in an article and series of talks I gave on the history of spintronics. "Spintonicists" see their work as marking the beginning of the field.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Monday, October 01, 2007
This article reminded me of the quote Patrick mentioned in class last Thursday regarding driving faster so that we can use up fossil fuels in order to move on to another source of energy. Seems that Mazada is motivated to use nanotechnology to cut heavy metal usage and thus reduce their overhead. Interesting. I can't remember if we put parsimonious down on the p-list of all things nanotechnology.
Mazda develops catalyst to slash precious metal use
From Reuters UK: http://uk.reuters.com/article/oilRpt/idUKT8936520071001
TOKYO, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Japan's Mazda Motor Corp said on Monday it has developed the world's first catalyst for cars that employs single-nanotechnology to create a material structure that slashes platinum and palladium use by 70 to 90 percent.
The reduction results in no change in the performance of the automotive catalyst, which uses platinum, rhodium and palladium to trigger a chemical reaction with polluting nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons to clean tailpipe emissions.
Domestic rival Nissan Motor Co in July also said it had developed a catalyst for gasoline cars that uses nanotechnology to prevent clustering of the catalyst's fine metal particles under high temperature conditions. That would halve the use of precious metal components, it had said.
Single-nanotechnology can control smaller particles than nanotechnology.
Automakers have been burdened with higher-than-expected commodity prices, and are looking for ways to reduce material use to save costs.A Mazda spokesman said the company had not decided yet when it would first employ the technology on a production model. It also has no plan for now to share the technology with controlling shareholder Ford Motor Co.
While these suggestions are fine and no doubt useful for those concerned with promoting certain public perceptions of nanotechnology, Toumey’s adoption of Cubist techniques runs contrary to their Cubist intent. Cubists, unlike Toumey (c.f. 587), had no interest in improving the correspondence between an image and reality. Indeed, Cubism marked a tremendous social upheaval, manifested in a variety of social domains, and which centered on a crisis in traditional conceptions of reality and knowledge. Concern for the veracity of a representation is a preoccupation that Cubists directly questioned. Through the abandonment of classic techniques of painting, including representations of Euclidean space, and the refusal to view painting merely as a tool for the representation of nature, Cubism rejected enlightenment rationality. In turn, Cubism sought multiple modes of representation, resulting in fragmented objects unrecognizable to those who thought that painting should replicate nature. This constituted a profound loss of faith in the connection between knowledge and progress; between signified and signifier; between rationality and an objective reality.
Toumey hails Cubism to take us in the opposite direction: to better represent the empirical nature of nanoscale materials. This divergence is made clear by Toumey’s characterization of the goals of Cubists to enlarge “the viewer’s knowledge of the reality of the object in a picture.” I argue that the goal for Cubists was rather to challenge the very possibility knowledge as coherent and singular. This challenge and crisis manifest in the Cubist movement is forgotten in Toumey’s characterization. His application of Cubist aesthetics to representations of nanoscale structures is thus remarkably un-Cubist to the degree that it seeks to “add to our empirical knowledge of the objects that exist at the nanoscale” (589).
Thinking about representation at the nanoscale, however, does raise some interesting questions. What Cubism and Toumey’s invocation of it in the context of nanotechnology are grappling with are the limitations of representation in the context of shifting relationships between space and time. Following Harvey (1989), if cultural modernism sprang from a “radical readjustment in the sense of time and space in economic, political and cultural life” (260-1) then by analogy, we might see the problem of representation at the nanoscale as a similar readjustment of our sense of time and space – a radical continuation of time-space compression. If, as the forecasters suggest, we are on the front end of a major readjustment to the world economy and to our many manners of living as a result of nanotechnological innovation, perhaps Toumey is out front by hinting at a similar crisis in representation to that which began after the middle of the 19th century. As the commercialization of nanotechnology floods our lives with events, practices, and produts that may be undetected by human sensory organs, whose risks or benefits are frequently invisible, the understanding and expression of social meanings takes on new dimensions. How will we represent those aspects of human experience that are invisible, un-touchable, un-smellable but powerful, potentially dangerous, and highly profitable?
Harvey, David. 1989. The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.
Toumey, Chris. 2007. "Cubism at the Nanoscale." Nature/Nanotechnology 2:587-9 (October).