|Ken Novak's Weblog
Purpose of this blog: to retain annotated bookmarks for my future reference, and to offer others my filter technology and other news. Note that this blog is categorized. Use the category links to find items that match your interests.
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Wednesday, November 30, 2005
First Inventory of Nanotech Environment & Health Research: "A new inventory of research into nanotechnology’s potential environmental, human health, and safety effects (EH&S) shows the need for more resources, for a coherent risk-related research strategy, and for public-private partnerships and international EH&S research collaborations. These are the key conclusions drawn from the first single inventory of largely government-funded research projects exploring nanotechnology’s possible EH&S impacts.
This unique inventory is publicly available online at www.nanotechproject.org or www.wilsoncenter.org. It was compiled and released by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The Project is a partnership of The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Wilson Center. ..
“Specifically, out of a total of 161 federally-funded, risk-related projects, the Project’s scientists found only 15 relevant to occupation-caused physical injury (totaling $1.7 million), and only two highly relevant projects on the long-term environmental and occupational exposures that potentially could cause disease (totaling $0.2 million). These are important gaps that must be filled to ensure that nanotechnology is safely commercialized and accepted by the public as not harmful,” stated Dr. Maynard. ..
“The good news is that the U.S. appears to be spending more on EH&S research than any other government. .. The bad news is that current spending levels are not adequate to begin to answer the difficult environmental and human health impact questions raised by worker exposure to nanomaterials, by rapid consumer product commercialization and eventual disposal, and by concentrated environmental exposures from the possible application of nanoparticles to soil or water for remediation purposes in the future" 10:52:29 PM
Mind-machine communication: "Recognizing that many people who have lost the ability to move their limbs due to spinal cord, nerve or muscle damage have intact brains, Donoghue and his colleagues devised a way to translate thoughts into computer commands. In Cyberkinetics’ BrainGate system, now being tested in two patients, a silicon array the size of a baby aspirin is implanted into the brain’s primary motor cortex, which is responsible for limb movement. The chip--which contains 100 gold electrodes, each thinner than a human hair--is wired to a computer that interprets electrical signals from the neurons, allowing the subject to control a cursor and, by extension, other equipment.
Within two months, the first subject, a 25-year-old who had become paralyzed three years earlier, was able to open e-mail, channel surf on a television and turn lights off and on. By enabling the man to control a computer merely by thinking about it, Donoghue and his team provided him with increased autonomy. .. “Someday, the technology may allow the paralyzed to move their own muscles,” says [fellow Brown professor Roy] Aaron." 10:09:14 PM
Nano powder spray defense:
"Discharged from a pressurized cylinder, a new powder known as FAST-ACT
(First Applied Sorbent Treatment-Against Chemical Threats) neutralizes mustard gas, sarin and other chemical-warfare agents--as well as many industrial chemicals. The powder, developed by Kansas State University chemist Kenneth Klabunde (pictured), consists of nanostructured crystallites of magnesium oxide (MgO) and titanium oxide (TiO2
). Each grain’s jagged edges multiply the powder’s surface area and porosity, making it highly reactive. Common MgO powder has a surface area of 30 square meters per gram; with FAST-ACT’s nanostructuring, that grows to 320 square meters. “Seventeen grams of the powder has the surface area of a football field,” Klabunde says.
Sprayed at a chlorine gas leak, the powder knocks the vapor to earth, leaving a harmless solid to be swept up. When pitted against VX nerve gas in tests at the U.S. Soldier Biological Chemical Command, the nanopowder quickly prevailed, converting 99.9 percent of the killer gas into a less hazardous solid." For sale now, along with other nanopowders. 10:05:24 PM
Nano-sponges for toxic metals
: Show promise for water treatment; I wonder if it might speed catalysts. "Microscopic particles honeycombed with holes only nanometers wide soon could help purify industrial runoff, coal plant smoke, crude oil and drinking water of toxic metals .. The particles, made of glass or natural diatomaceous earth, are 5 millionths to 50 millionths of a meter wide and filled with holes a thousand times smaller. The surfaces of these particles can bear a variety of flavors or coatings that soak up specific toxic metals -- for instance, sulfurous organic coatings attract mercury, while coppery organic coatings bind to arsenic and radioactive metals known as actinides. The particles' spongy nature gives them an incredible 6,400 square feet to nearly 11,000 square feet of surface area per gram of material
with which to draw in toxins.
Physical chemists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., developed the particles, known as SAMMS -- or self-assembled monolayers on mesoporous supports -- to remove mercury from oil in nuclear facility pumps last decade. Over the past three years, the scientists have vastly broadened the potential applications of the particles and partnered with companies to bring them into greater use. "We have a technology that can be used to address a large number of emerging water treatment problems, with arsenic and mercury as just a couple of examples," said Richard Skaggs a civil engineer at PNNL. .. The SAMMS particles can not only soak up toxic metals, but once disposed of in landfills, the particles also should prove too large for microbes to consume. Keeping microbes clean of toxins helps ensure the metals do not enter the ecosystem and become concentrated, for instance, in fish.. "We see a cost reduction of a factor of 10 when it comes to saving landfill space because only very, very small amounts of material are needed," Skaggs added. " 9:59:07 PM
South African disposable solar cells: I've been interested for some time in renewable power sources that are less expensive up front, even if more expensive over the long run. The lower up-front commitment cuts risk, allows more experimentation, and more room for incremental technological improvements. It also supports a wider range of business models based on recurring revenues.
"SCIENTISTS at the University of Cape Town are exploiting the nano-scale properties of silicon to develop a super-thin disposable solar panel poster which they hope could offer rural dwellers a cheap, alternative source of power. .. The scientists have developed technology for printing specialised inks containing tiny nanoparticles of silicon and other semiconductors onto paper. The solar panels are printed in much the same way as conventional colour images.. They print the metal contacts, then the semiconductor structure, then more contacts.
The voltage and power output of the solar cell is determined by the size of the poster. An A2-sized poster [15.9 x 22.3 ins or 40.38 x 56.64 cms] will deliver up to 100W of power, enough to charge a cellphone, power a radio or provide five hours of lighting, said Prof David Britton, a physicist specialising in nanotechnology.
“Many families cannot afford R1000 for a solar panel designed to last 30 years, but they can afford R10 (US$1.50) every three to six months for a ‘disposable’ panel,” he said. Shops could stock rolls of solar panel posters, and cut it to meet a customer’s needs. The poster could be mounted behind a window or attached to a cabinet. Britton’s team has built a successful prototype and is seeking to commercialise the project" 11:00:27 AM
Hackers Admit to Wave of Attacks: "An Ohio computer hacker who served as a digital button man for a shady internet hosting company faces prison time after admitting he carried out one of a series of crippling denial-of-service attacks ordered by a wealthy businessman against his competitors. " Quite a story: Hackers used an Ohio ISP to discover vulnerable windows machines. One found 15,000, and used spybot to take them over. A Los Angeles business man hired the ISP manager for $1000 to orchestrate a DoS attack on his competitors. "The FBI described the ensuing attack as a tenacious, 10-day deluge that tracked RapidSatellite through three ISP changes, and briefly blocked Amazon.com and the website of the Department of Homeland Security, which had the poor luck of sharing service providers with Echouafni's rival. "
The businessman liked the results so much he bought the ISP and went after other targets. "Jay Echouafni, the 38-year-old satellite TV mogul who allegedly ordered and funded the cyberhits, went on the lam last year, and remains a fugitive from a federal indictment out of Los Angeles. .. Echouafni skipped out on $750,000 bail secured by his house in Massachusetts last year. Law enforcement officials believe he's now living in his native Morocco. " [Via Scott Lemon] 10:39:40 AM