New cannabis and psychosis study

I was asked this morning by a Comment is Free editor to write a response to the hot-off-the-press study on cannabis use and psychosis published in The Lancet, and reported across the front pages this morning. Without having first read the paper, no way I was prepared to comment on it. I therefore recommended that […]

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Environmentalists call for stringent Euro regulations on nanotechnology

BUND, the German branch of Friends of the Earth, recently published a report on the potential health and environmental risks associated with nanotechnology. The document is part of a campaign to gather international support for increased regulatory oversight at European level. As well as briefly discussing possible models for sustainable nanotechnology, the report makes 10 […]

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Inform consumers or nanotechnology will fail in the marketplace

A recent public meeting of the US President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) heard a call for the public to be fully informed about the benefits and risks associated with nanotechnology. In his presentation to PCAST, Andrew Maynard, Chief Scientist at the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, said: “If the benefits are unclear […]

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Carbon nanotubes as ethanol factories

A group of Chinese researchers claim that carbon nanotubes loaded with rhodium particles can be used as reactors to convert a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen into ethanol. This could then conceivably be used as a fossil fuel replacement. Following previous work with iron nanoparticles, Xiulian Pan, Xinhe Bao and their colleagues at the […]

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Cannabis: the big lie

The following article was published on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website on 20 July 2007. Skunk may be strong, but it’s no stronger than the high-quality hashish that has been smoked in Britain since time immemorial. Virtually half the Brown cabinet have now declared that they once smoked dope but didn’t like it. What […]

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Nature cleans up metal nanoparticle pollution

Deep inside a flooded mine in Wisconsin, US scientists have discovered anaerobic bacteria emitting proteins that sweep up metal nanoparticles into immobile clumps. Exactly how and why the bacteria accomplish their housecleaning task remains a mystery, but the finding may lead to effective bioremediation strategies designed to clean up toxic metals. Former University of California, […]

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Fish and chips, but not as we know it

Canadian biomedical technologists have made a breakthrough that will lead to faster and cheaper diagnostic tests for cancer. University of Alberta graduate student Vince Sieben and his fellow researchers have miniaturised and automated an established diagnostic protocol onto a microfluidic chip, and in the process reduced the costs involved to less than one tenth of […]

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Turning diesel soot into useful carbon nanomaterials

A group of environmentally-conscious Japanese scientists have come up with a way of producing something useful from the noxious emissions of diesel engines. Masaru Tachibana at Yokohama City University, together with university colleagues and researchers working for carmaker Nissan and environmental technologists Juon, has taken green nanotechnology to a new level. In a technique developed […]

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Darwinian interludes and biotech futures

The following article was commissioned by the Guardian, and published on the Comment is Free website on 19 July 2007. My attention was recently drawn to an interesting if somewhat rambling essay by the physicist and futurist thinker Freeman Dyson. In his article, Dyson focuses on biotechnology and the benefits it could bring to humanity […]

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From plastic bags to nanoelectronics with blown film extrusion

Researchers at Harvard University and the University of Hawaii have taken an established thin-film fabrication technology, and developed a way of aligning nanowires and nanotubes over areas 100 times larger than is possible with existing methods. The breakthrough paves the way for the mass production of nanoscale electronic devices. Blown film extrusion is one of […]

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