Thursday, May 18, 2006

Finally a voice of reason

Nanotechbuzz wasn't where I expected to see a fine bit of calm clear logic but it should have been.

After 8 groups filed complaints with the FDA to ban sunscreens that contain zinc and titanium oxide nanoparticles NTB had a great point I hadn't even touch on yet: the repercussions of stirring up paranoia on the use of sunscreens. The public have been relying on these sunscreens to protect them from harmful ultraviolet rays and now these 8 groups, who are doing little more than maneuvering for more political power, come along and create a climate of fear likely to confuse the public on what is safe.

Let me clue these morons into a fact: Zinc is used by the human body. You need it to stay healthy. Are they really dumb enough to think that the relatively tiny amounts which will be absorbed through the skin are going to cause any harm to a person much less to the environment or some such nonsense? Chances are much better that this will actually be good for some people, improving their health by restoring a needed nutrient rather than causing any harm. But groups like Greenpeace and Fiends of the Earth are much more interested in how they can manipulate public opinion with fear and propaganda so as to gain further influence.

Keep up the good work, Nanotech Buzzz!


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Nano paranoia tidal wave

Nano paranoia continued gaining momentum today as a group calling themselves "Friends of the Earth" (positioning themselves against the rest of us who they insinuate are "enemies of the earth") and the International Center for Technology Assessment filed a petition with the FDA demanding that the FDA tighten its monitoring of anything in sunscreen or cosmetics which could, as they claim, "penetrate the skin and effect brain chemistry."

One wonder what is already affecting their brain chemistry. An attorney for the groups is planning on suing if the FDA doesn't meet their demands within 180 days.

So here we have a non-American organization which is demanding changes to our rules and threatening to sue us if we don't bend to their will. Furthermore the changes they want made are so non-specific that even water (which will penetrate the skin and effect brain chemistry!) would be regulated by it.

So far the FDA seems unconcerned. And with good reason considering the ludicrous nature of the proposed rule changes. However we all know from past experience that if these nut jobs shout loud enough and long enough eventually some unfortunate people will begin to fall under their sway. Some of the worst debacles of public policy have come about by exactly this course (banning of supersonic transports, stringent GMO regulations, digital copyright protection, nuclear power, the list goes on...)


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The nano fear mongering continues

This website is doing it again, my favorite thing to hate. Fear mongering. "Untested nanoparticles are gonna kill us all, run for the hills!!!!"

And of course they just can't get over the asbestos comparison. As if there is no other particle to be inhaled. Ugg, the worst part is they use the name "technocrat" and then they're dumb enough to describe asbestos as a nanoparticle. Asbestos, a particulate which can easily be seen by the unaided human eye and which a 12 cent paper mask will keep you from inhaling. If that is nano then so is flour, sugar, salt, hell just about anything small.

The worst damage done by these sorts of articles isn't just the unjustified fear or the stolen ad revenue they generate with spurious panic, it's the wholesale misleading of people into a distorted worldview wherein everything small is to be feared as being "just like the deadly asbestos!" Animals on earth have been inhaling nanoparticles for millions if not billions of years. Yes, these are a new type of nanoparticle but there is nothing to say they will be any more or less harmful than those which arise naturally. Like just about anything what will count most will be dosage. How much do you inhale, absorb or ingest. A single asbestos fiber inhaled will not automatically lead to lung cancer and neither is it likely that the relatively tiny amounts of nanoparticles (most of which are bound in a liquid, gel, or solid of some sort) will automatically lead to a horrible fate for all concerned.

This is the 21st century folks, we are a tad bit smarter than we were when asbestos came out.


Sunday, May 14, 2006

Too early for "I told you so!" but...

There have been a mixed lot of studies about the safety of fullerenes. This recent one by Los Alamos National Laboratory tends to support my own belief that the interaction of fullerenes with tissues and cells will be more like that of graphite rather than that of benzene as some have maintained. The fact of the matter is that most fullerenes are closed cyclic structures with few dangling hyrdogen atoms to give them the nasty reactivity of benzene.

What makes this study most valuable is the fact that the researchers weren't just testing for toxicity but also compiling knowledge to be applied to future engineering of fullerenes to increase their safety even further.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Now THIS is some good nanotech

Researchers at MIT, the University of California, San Diego, and the Burnham Institute have demonstrated a two part nanoparticle system in which the two components are inactive until they encounter enzymes on the surface of cancer cells. The two nanoparticles then self-assemble. They think it could be used to image cancer cells via MRI (the nanoparticles have iron oxide cores) but it strikes me that there is also the possibility of applying magnetic fields which would heat the cancer cells thus injuring or killing them.

Check out the article for details, quite brilliant stuff.


Friday, May 05, 2006

More anti-nano scares from the hype pipe

Under the heading of "oh my gosh!" you'll find a quote from some poor deranged fool at the bottom of this post. Here's my reply:

Why is it that intentionally controlled nanoparticles are any more dangerous than those which occur at random? There is no logical reason to instantly assume that the soot your car spits out is somehow safer than the zinc oxide particles in suntan lotion. And yet we're being warned all the time about the particles in our products despite the fact that we at least know what they are and can hazard a guess at least as to any threat they might offer. The same can not be said for the almost infinite sources of nanoparticles which occur in what we all think of as the "natural" world.

The analogy with asbestos is totally flawed for so many reasons I don't even know where to start. 1) at the time no one even knew tiny particles were a danger. 2) asbestos fibers are macroscopic even those which cause lung cancer. 3) We are now aware of the danger of inhaling things, like automobile exhaust or cat dander and can easily take steps to avoid them. 4) I could just keep pointing things out but you should be smart enough to figure them out on your own.

Don't even get me started about GMOs. No one, absolutely no one has ever died from exposure to a GMO. EVER. However millions of people are starving to death in Africa as you read this because they don't have GMO foods to keep them alive. Good job, idiot.

Far more irreversible harm is being caused by irrational panic mongers who delight in giving away their natural intelligence to be dominated by a herd mentality which furthers their loss of control to authoritarians.

I am sure when they started using Asbestos products several years ago, it was perceived as the best product for the application. It took several years to prove and feel the deadly side effects.

Seemingly harmless natural rubber could cause severe allergic reactions and no wonder majority of clinical facilities "discontinued" using rubber products. GMO crop / food / plant technology that people are toying with is another classic example, with irreversible harmful effects being discovered on a regular basis.

We ought to weigh potential harm than potential benefit first when other alternatives are available.

I would say much research needs to be done before these products penetrate our homes and lives and wreck potentially irreversible havoc.

From PB, unregistered commentor at Physnews. What a doh!


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Nano safety as a tool for political change

Big warning here folks. Some self-agrandizing idiot is about to redefine the bases of responsibility within the western legal system again (akin to the problems with copyright Lawrence Lessig has been warning us about for so long)

In the above linked article Greenpeace is making a grab for omnipotence again. Their chief Scientist in the UK, Doug Barr, is calling for a moratorium on all products which contain unbound nanoparticles. I wish Dougy (to his elitist pals) had stayed awake in chem 101. Virtually the entire planet contains unbound nanoparticles. Hell, you're shedding them right now in the form of keratin cells from your hair and skin. The CO2 molecules you're exhaling could be considered nanoparticles. When will these people learn to think before making sweeping generalizations? Oh, that's right it's Greenpeace.

If these sort of draconian limitations are placed on our burdgeoning nano-industry it will be a virtual abortion for a child technology which could easily bring about untold wealth and prosperity for every man, woman, and especially child on earth within the next 20 years. Abortion you say? Oh that's right, it's Greenpeace.

What's even worse is that this sort of maneuver is an opening for applying even more tyranny to our society. As I said, you contain unbound nanoparticles, so we'll have a moratorium on you as well. Fortunately, since I'm made of pure spirit I won't have to worry about it. However, the automobile is a powerful producer of nanoparticles in the form of soot. Just what you need, even tighter emission standards and higher gas prices from nanoparticle control taxes. Can you imagine the negative impact on the economy of our country?

Oh, that's right. It's Greenpeace.


Yet again with the nanotech danger hype

Yes, everyone agrees that health testing may be necessary. But do we really need to test the nanotubes in our golf clubs, tennis balls, and bicycles?

Caution is a good thing but is this fella going to do the same thing that Ralph Nader did when he helped to ban super-sonic transports? That was a spin-doctor fiasco, SSTs were never a threat to the ozone layer but Ralph had no problem convincing people it was so.

Using a hot button issue like safety to evoke knee-jerk responses has always been a good way to further your career, if you don't mind the moral cost.

I'm just saying lets be cautious with our caution or we'll end up throwing out the good stuff just to benefit some agenda pusher who actually could care less.


Monday, May 01, 2006

Device fusion: will it lead to "Perfect Witness"

Sound Solution has delivered a product called the torq100 which combines handheld PC, cellphone, GPS, wireless, and digital camera technology. I've been predicting such a fused device for about 7 years now. With just a tiny tweak of encryption to make the whole thing secure and a simple transparent verification system to give it reciprocal accountability this device (especially when operating in groups ) would provide a 99.99999% reliable witness system thus circumventing many if not all the problems inherent with relying on human witnesses. First hand accounts have been proven time and again to have dubious value even though it is one of the center pieces of our judicial system. By delivering a verified encrypted GPS located image stream to a third party site for later review perfectly reliable first hand accounts of events can be recorded or simply streamed to the web for public consumption. The reduction in historical uncertainty would be immense while subjective influence on reporting would be purely a matter of personal response, no longer coloring the perceived outcome of events.


Japanese Device Art

Well this isn't nanotech, but it is pretty cool.