Strategic Geopolitical Trends – From Spooks to Nanotech

The UK Ministry of Defence released its latest ‘Global Strategic Trends – Out to 2040‘ study last month, and it’s a good read (even for non spooks) covering everything from terrorism to to climate change and their impact on geopolitics. The report identifies four key issues, Globalisation, Climate Change, Global Inequality & Innovation which will dominate the next thirty years. The …

Long Term Prosperity is an an Ozymandian Dream Without Technology

The recent news about the debt problems in Dubai contrast with the glitzy no expense spared hotels and conference centres where I spent last weekend with the World Economic Forum, but probably do more to highlight the importance of a diverse technology enabled economy than any amount of lobbying we could do. While Dubai has led the way for the …

UK Government Rebrands Arts As ‘Science’ To Fiddle The Figures

Part of the problem in engaging the general public about science is widespread scientific illiteracy. It doesn’t help when the UK Government doesn’t seem to have a clue what science is! According to this report The Government now includes as “science”, courses such as nutrition and complementary medicine, geography studies, sports science, nursing and psychology, even though in dozens of …

Three Out Of Four People Quite Like Nanotechnology

Nature published an interesting paper at the weekend, a Canadian meta study into public attitudes to nanotechnology. The key finding is that “those who perceive greater benefits outnumber those who perceive greater risks by 3 to 1.” That’s probably not too surprising, as the majority of press stories about nanotechnology tend to be along the lines of it curing cancer …

I’m Jonathan Miller And I Want To Know Why!

As expected, Jonathan Miller’s talk reflecting on “the biology of design didn’t disappoint, and was a object lesson in science communication. As a non biologist (my background is mainly physics, materials, surface science, music and finance) I found it fascinating, informative and quite inspiring. As Miller is a celebrated theatre director, scientist, author and a host of other things, the …

Geoengineering: More Political and Moral Than Scientific?

I spent yesterday evening at a rather interesting, and slightly peculiar, debate on geoengineering between David Keith of the University of Calgary and Paul Johnston on Greenpeace. The debate revolved around whether geoengineering could be useful as an approach to addressing climate change, and whether it is just too radical an idea to be even considered. Geoengineering isn’t anything new, …

Why Nanotechnology Is NOT The “New Asbestos”

A recent poll by the UK charity the Mental Health Foundation found that 77% of people found the world more frightening than in 1999, and put some of the blame on the “worst-case-scenario language” sometimes used by politicians, pressure groups, businesses and public bodies. It does seem to be true that to get any kind of (media) attention you have …

Politicising Nanotechnologies

EurActiv had a nice summary of the positions of various organisations on the regukation of nanotechnologies which showed some very clear political splits. Trade Unions and environmental groups want tighter regulation/labelling or a moratorium while the chemical industry and other business regulations just seem wo want some clarity. The political agenda is worth noting in the light of a piece …