Articles

The science of effective science communication

Risk Innovation Lab director Andrew Maynard has just published an article on The Conversation exploring the challenges of communicating science effectively, to coincide with a new National Academies of Science report on science communication:

What does research say about how to effectively communicate about science?
Andrew Maynard
https://theconversation.com/what-does-research-say-about-how-to-effectively-communicate-about-science-70244

Andrew served on the NAS committee that compiled the just released report:

Communicating Science Effectively: A Research Agenda
National Academies of Science (2016)
https://www.nap.edu/catalog/23674/communicating-science-effectively-a-research-agenda

The complex ethics of emerging brain technologies

There’s a new “Edge of Innovation” column up on the responsible development of emerging brain technologies, over at The Conversation:

Considering ethics now before radically new brain technologies get away from us

Andrew Maynard
The Conversation, Sept 14 2016
Link to article

Imagine infusing thousands of wireless devices into your brain, and using them to both monitor its activity and directly influence its actions. It sounds like the stuff of science fiction, and for the moment it still is – but possibly not for long.

Brain research is on a roll at the moment. And as it converges with advances in science and technology more broadly, it’s transforming what we are likely to be able to achieve in the near future.

Spurring the field on is the promise of more effective treatments for debilitating neurological and psychological disorders such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and depression. But new brain technologies will increasingly have the potential to alter how someone thinks, feels, behaves and even perceives themselves and others around them – and not necessarily in ways that are within their control or with their consent.

This is where things begin to get ethically uncomfortable.

Read more at The Conversation

Online resources and casual learners

Andrew Maynard has a new article in Nature Nanotechnology on using the internet to provide casual learners with science education resources, as part of his regular Responsible Nanotechnology slot:

Is nanotech failing casual learners?

Andrew D. Maynard
Nature Nanotechnology 11, 734–735 (2016) doi:10.1038/nnano.2016.167
(Link to article)

… there are indications that increasing numbers of casual learners are turning to online educational resources. As of February 2014, the Khan Academy — a ground-breaking initiative in user-directed learning — was attracting around 10 million unique users per month. And at the time of writing, the TED Talks YouTube channel had received over half a billion views, and the educational YouTube channel Crash Course had received nearly as many (as well as having over 4.5 million subscribers).

These numbers are impressive, and they suggest that large numbers of casual learners are actively seeking out online educational material. Yet none of the websites above have substantial nanotechnology content.

Read more at Nature Nanotechnology

Zika and the use of insect repellants

Keri Szejda and Diana Bowman have a new article on CRISBits.org on Zika, insecticides, and risks to pregnant women and their unborn children.

From the article:

Avoid travel to outbreak areas. Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants. Mosquito proof your home. Use insect repellant. Avoid sex or use condoms.

To many, these oft-repeated United States (US) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for preventing Zika may just seem like common sense. But to pregnant women—who have more at stake as the mosquito-borne virus spreads, and also face a myriad of pressures about what to do and what not to do while expecting—the measures may not seem so feasible to follow, in every case, and every time.

Read more at:

Better Safe Than Sorry: Insect Repellents in the Age of Zika
keri Szejda and Diana Bowman
CRIS

Worried about arsenic in your baby’s rice cereal? There are other foods that can provide essential iron

Keri Szejda has a new piece in The Conversation on arsenic in rice cereal:

Worried about arsenic in your baby’s rice cereal? There are other foods that can provide essential iron
https://theconversation.com/worried-about-arsenic-in-your-babys-rice-cereal-there-are-other-foods-that-can-provide-essential-iron-59361