Friday, January 26, 2007

Magic Nano goes "Finy"

Kleinmann GmbH, the people who brought you Magic Nano, now sell Finy, a new nano-based cleaner/sealant:
"The future of protection against dirt! Welcome to the world of finy!

You'll be amazed by the endless new uses for nano technology and the unbeatable advantages when used at home:

* Seal once for effortless cleaning
* Chemical cleaning agents are no longer required
* Clean with clean water only
* Products are food-safe and fragrance-free"

Interestingly enough, the new Finy product line bears a striking resemblance to the now infamous Magic Nano packaging. Magic Nano, of course, was linked to a health scare back in 2006 when over 100 people complained about severe respiratory problems after using Magic Nano aerosol cans in their homes (see nanopublic post from April 5, 2006). It therefore comes as no surprise that Finy is sold as a pump spray.

Also, click here for a promotional movie from Kleinmann GmbH (only available in German, unfortunately):

Small Talk: New nano podcast

The San Francisco Exploratorium just announced SmallTalk, its new monthly nano podcast with Stephanie Chasteen of the Exploratorium’s Teacher Institute.

"SmallTalk is a podcast series where we chat about nanotechnology with leading scientists, thinkers, artists, writers, and visionaries, and look at quirky nanoscience stories in the news. Dr. Stephanie Chasteen, of the Exploratorium’s Teacher Institute, hosts this monthly series. New editions will be issued at the beginning of each month through spring 2007.

Subscribe through iTunes or RSS."

Together with the Boston Museum of Science and the Science Museum of Minnesota, the Exploratorium is a core partner in the Nanoscale Informal Science Education (NISE) Network.

Are Madison and Ithaca next? Local nano regulations in Cambridge

After a report in The Boston Globe today that the Cambridge City Council may follow the City of Berkeley's lead and regulate nano research and manufacturing at the local level, it is probably just a matter of time before Madison, WI and Ithaca, NY follow suit and announce their own regulatory initiatives. Stay tuned.
From The Boston Globe today:

"The Cambridge City Council is considering a law to regulate the use of super-small nanoparticles in research and manufacturing. If the council decides to act, it will make Cambridge the second city in the United States, after Berkeley, Calif., to regulate nanotechnology.

'We hope that nanotech is going to be a big part of new industry in Cambridge,' said council member Henrietta Davis. But Davis said the city should make sure that nano-based businesses ply their trade safely. 'It's not my intention to stifle it,' she said. 'It's more to be proactive.'


On Jan. 8, the Cambridge City Council voted to ask Lipson to study the nanotechnology regulation enacted in Berkeley last year, and recommend a similar statute for Cambridge. Under the Berkeley law, companies and research labs that make nanoparticles, or use them in manufacturing or research, must disclose that fact to the city government. In addition, the users must provide information on any known health or safety risks posed by the nanomaterial, and must report on how the materials will be handled, stored, and disposed of. The City Council ordered Lipson to study the Berkeley law and determine whether it makes sense to draw up a similar statute.


Davis said prospects for a nanotech ordinance are good. 'If it comes from the Public Health Department, I think it's pretty likely to be passed,' she said. 'The standard having been set by Berkeley, we will probably do something very similar to them.'"

(Clock here for the full story.)

Friday, January 12, 2007

The world worries about global warming and religious fanaticism; the U.S. doesn't

Al Gore is still waiting for any measurable public reaction to An Inconvenient Truth in the U.S. Meanwhile, old Europe seems to be listening. At least that's what a recent Harris Interactive study suggests, conducted for France 24 and The International Herald Tribune in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, and the USA, among adults ages 16 and over.

The most interesting aspect of the Harris Interactive study is that the U.S. is the outlier on most issues.
"Adults in the UK and the USA view terrorism as the greatest challenge facing the planet today with 49% of Americans and 43% of the British citing it as a greater threat than global warming, religious fanaticism, war, and nuclear proliferation."
As a result, U.S. respondents expressed lower concerns about global warming than respondents in Germany, Italy and Spain. Germans, Italians, and Spanish respondents also worried about religious fanaticism, which does not seem to be on the radar of many U.S. respondents.
"Religious fanaticism is the top concern in Germany, Italy and Spain; it is seen as the greatest threat by 42% of German, 40% of Italian and 39% of Spanish adults. This is followed by global warming; which is cited by 41% of Germans, 39% of Italians, and 33% of the Spanish."
This lack of concern about religious extremism is especially surprising in a country that -- more than 200 years after implementing one of the first enlightened modern constitutions -- still struggles with the issue of disentangling religious beliefs from evidence in its science classrooms, universities, and policy decisions.

And there's little indication that things will change. Just to provide some episodic evidence: A story in today's New York Times predicts that about one in 10 New Yorkers will belong to some kind of Pentecostal church by the end of this year. Pentecostal Christians, of course, believe in the Bible’s word-for-word authority and in speaking in tongues (or unintelligible utterances) as a way of directly interacting with god.

(Click here for the full report on the Harris Interactive study.)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

New University Rankings

This may be slightly off-topic, but the Chronicle of Higher Education just came out with new university and department rankings that are already debated quite passionately on a number of blogs. The validity of the rankings, of course, is questionable at best, given the simple citation-based approach. But in a very self-serving fashion I thought it was still worth sharing, since Wisconsin comes in 4th among all mass comm programs, and 14th among research universities, ahead of NYU, Stanford and Cornell.

The article:

Top research universities:

Top mass comm programs:

All ranked Wisconsin programs:

See also Matthew Nisbet's post on the issue over at Framing Science, and Academic Analytics' description of the methodology underlying the 2005 rankings.

Monday, January 08, 2007

PRESS RELEASE: "Madison resident's lone citizen voice in the Halls of Washington"

For Immediate Release
CONTACT INFO: Mathilde Colin, 608-238-1438,

If Mr. Miller hadn't decided to fly to Washington at his own expense in the nick of time last Thursday, the "public" would have had no voice at a government-sponsored public meeting about nanotechnology.

Nano...what? That's what Larry Miller would have said two years ago, just before he got involved in Madison Area Citizen Consensus Conference in 2005 in Wisconsin – and which eventually led him to Washington DC on January 4, 2007 for the U.S. government's first public meeting on potential environmental and health risks of nanotechnologies 1. There, this former school principal spoke up before a group of academics, manufacturers, and public officials.

"I've heard quite a few comments this afternoon about the public, about your desire to respond to the public, to inform the public and so on. And lo and behold, here I am. I am a citizen--I am not a doctor, I am not a government employee, I am not a corporate head, I'm just a person," he said.

If Mr. Miller hadn't attended, this meeting would have been just one more ritual gathering of scientific and government experts, debating what to do next with little public input.

(Click here for the full press release from Madison's