Archive by category | Public and media

Nanotechnology and food

Nanotechnology and food

The food industry will only reap the benefits of nanotechnology if issues related to safety are addressed and companies are more open about what they are doing. This ethical question is addressed by Nature Nanotechology in its February Editorial (5, 89; 2010), an excerpt from which follows. So far nanotechnology has largely escaped becoming ‘the next GM’ — which is shorthand for the rejection of genetically modified food by the public in the UK and elsewhere in Europe — but this has largely been because many applications of nanotechnology have been inherently non-controversial: who can object to stain-free trousers or  … Read more

A climate of constructive communication

A climate of constructive communication

February’s Editorial in Nature Reports Climate Change looks over the past two months, an unnerving time for the international climate community. Once seen as one of the most esteemed scientific organizations in the world, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has suffered some serious blows to its reputation. First, ‘Climategate’ saw thousands of emails obtained illegally from the University of East Anglia posted on the Internet. Carefully timed ahead of international climate policy negotiations, the emails showed apparent attempts by a handful of IPCC climatologists to withhold data from climate deniers and to exclude contentious information from the panel’s report.  Read more

Science books to inspire new generations

Science books to inspire new generations

Five leading writers of science books are offering advice for budding authors in a series of interviews running from 4 Feb to 4 March in Nature‘s Books & Arts section. Researchers should be recognized for writing books to convey and develop science, according to an Editorial in Nature last week ( 463, 588; 4 February 2010, free to read online). Here is an extract: “As the era of the electronic book dawns, perhaps hastened by Apple’s much-touted iPad, researchers should prime themselves to take advantage of the spacious book format. Unlike a tweet, blog or research paper, a good book  … Read more

British scientists need to adopt a positive tone

British scientists need to adopt a positive tone

This is a shortened version of an Editorial in Nature ( 463, 402; 28 January 2010), which is free to access online. On 11 January, a coalition of 20 leading British research universities published an editorial in The Guardian newspaper warning of impending calamity. If the spending cuts being proposed by the government are implemented, the authors asserted, the nation’s entire higher-education system, eight centuries in the making, could be undone in just six months. Such alarmist statements have worked before. In an ordinary budget year, cries of falling skies and loss of leadership can pressure politicians to shift resources  … Read more

Latest Nature videos up at YouTube

Latest Nature videos up at YouTube

The Nature Video editors have been busy this year, posting some beautiful movies at YouTube. Here’s a brief description of a few of them. Eight billion years of dwarf galaxy evolution, accompanied by Strauss. This beautiful animation shows how exploding stars are a key force in shaping dwarf galaxies. Fabio Governato and colleagues present computer simulations that appear to have solved a longstanding problem in cosmology — namely, how the standard cold dark matter model of galaxy formation can give rise to the dwarf galaxies we see around us. From: Bulgeless dwarf galaxies and dark matter cores from supernova-driven outflows  … Read more

Arrogant gods of certainty or subtle sophistication?

Arrogant gods of certainty or subtle sophistication?

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a scientist. Would you label yourself, then, an “arrogant god of certainty”? Nature Physics, in its December Editorial (5, 851; 2009) takes issue with “the continued misperception of science”, in this case by A. N. Wilson in The Daily Mail newspaper, in a article which attracted 462 comments from readers. From the Nature Physics Editorial: “According to Wilson, “What scientists are saying basically is that they will brook no contradiction”; “science rules” and needs “to distort and control the brains of men and women who might otherwise think for themselves.” Any scientist surely struggles  … Read more

Nature Materials looks to second worlds

Nature Materials looks to second worlds

Virtual worlds such as Second Life present an intriguing premise for scientific use. But are the benefits sufficiently clear for widespread uptake? In a Commentary in the current (December) issue of Nature Materials ( 8, 919-921; 2009), Tim Jones discusses the advantages virtual worlds allow in the context of science and science communication, including allowing research collaborators to meet in a virtual space, or larger events such as talks where the audience can interact with each other. An Editorial in the same issue of Nature Materials (8, 917; 2009, free to access online) points out that despite its advantages, growth  … Read more

A Scientist’s Guide to Talking to the Public, reviewed

A Scientist's Guide to Talking to the Public, reviewed

Nature Neuroscience‘s December issue features a review of Cornelia Dean’s book Am I Making Myself Clear? A Scientist’s Guide to Talking to the Public ( Nature Neurosci. 12, 1477; 2009). Dean is a journalist and former editor of the popular science section at the New York Times, and according to reviewer Dario L Ringach of the University of California, Los Angeles, “extends a compelling invitation to researchers to participate more in public life, to explain their work to science journalists, to contribute to national policy debates and to do so not only when their funding is at stake.” In the  … Read more

Nature Nanotechnology on public attitudes and responses

The proportion of the public that knows about nanotechnology has reached a plateau, which means that it is now necessary to develop new approaches to explore public perceptions in greater detail than before, according to the November Editorial in Nature Nanotechnology (4, 695; 2009). The Editorial draws attention to “the publication of the first meta-analysis of survey data on public attitudes towards the risks and benefits associated with nanotechnology (see ”http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2009.265″>page 752 of this issue). Terre Satterfield and colleagues looked at 22 publications reporting the results of surveys and found that the public response to nanotechnology has, so far, been different to the responses to previous new technologies in a number of ways.  Read more