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Andrew Maynard Topics




Hacking the world, public health style

by Andrew Maynard

What has the Maker Movement got to do with public health? Quite a lot as it turns out, as I explore in the latest Risk Bites video.  This in turn was inspired by being invited to talk at the inaugural We Make Health Fest in Ann Arbor (August 16 – please join us if you can!).



When risk gets personal

by Andrew Maynard

When you’re facing a life or death situation, what do the odds mean – to you personally?  As Brian Zikmund-Fisher from the University of Michigan School of Public Health pointed out to Robert Siegel on NPR yesterday, “We’re never 95 percent alive. We either live or die. We experience outcomes”. 



The gathering storm of lab safety: Pathogen safety in federal labs

by Andrew Maynard

Over the past few weeks, revelations of potentially dangerous errors in US federal labs handling pathogens have placed health and safety high on the national agenda.  In June, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced as many as 75 of its staff may have been exposed to anthrax due to safety issues at one of its labs.  At the beginning of July, vials of smallpox virus were found in an unsecured room at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Then earlier this week came the revelation that in the same room were over 300 vials containing pathogens such as dengue virus, influenza, and the bacterium that causes Q fever.



How safe is the world’s darkest material?

by Andrew Maynard

Over the past few days, the interweb’s been awash with virtual “oohs” and “ahs” over Surrey Nanosystems’ carbon nanotube-based Vantablack coating.  The material – which absorbs over 99.9% of light falling onto it and is claimed to be the world’s darkest material – is made up of a densely packed “forest” of vertically aligned carbon nanotubes (see the image below).  In fact the name “vanta” stands for Vertically Aligned NanoTube Array.



Responsible innovation key to the success of emerging technologies

by Andrew Maynard

The World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies on February 25, 2014 released its annual list of breakthrough technologies. The list highlights 10 trends in technological advancement that could offer innovative solutions to a range of pressing global challenges.  As a member of the council that compiles the list each year, I’m excited to see technologies here that could be truly transformative.  At the same time, realizing the benefits they offer will require a good dose of responsible innovation mixed in with the technologies each trend represents.



Do we need a better definition for synthetic biology?

by Andrew Maynard

Jim Thomas of the ETC Group has just posted a well reasoned article on the Guardian website  on the challenges of defining the the emerging technology of “synthetic biology”.  The article is the latest in a series of exchanges addressing the potential risks of the technology and its effective regulation.



Nanojuice for GI tract imaging – is it safe?

by Andrew Maynard

Over the past few days, my news and social media streams have been inundated by articles on “nanojuice”.  The “juice” – developed by researchers at the University of Buffalo and published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology – is a suspension of light-absorbing nanoparticles which, when drunk (and only mice have had this privilege so far), allow an unprecedented level of real-time imaging of the small intestine.  It also presents an unusual series of safety challenges as the particles are designed to be intentionally ingested.



Nanoparticles in Dunkin’ Donuts? Do the math!

by Andrew Maynard

Over the past couple of years a number of articles have been posted claiming that we’re eating more food products containing nanoparticles than we know (remember this piece from a couple of weeks ago?).  One of the latest appeared on The Guardian website yesterday with the headline “Activists take aim at nanomaterials in Dunkin’ Donuts” (thanks to @HilarySutcliffe for the tip-off).  



Geeking Out on the Science of Risk

by Andrew Maynard

Danger and death are part and parcel of being alive. But with a few notable exceptions, it’s hard to find straightforward information online on how to make sense of stuff that potentially threaten our health and wellbeing. Which is a pity, because as well as being important for making smart decisions, there’s some really cool science behind how what we touch, breathe, eat, or otherwise come into contact with affects our health.



Talk to the Hand: Risk Bites, six months on

by Andrew Maynard

Risk Bites was originally conceived as a way of pulling some rather cool insights into the science behind human health risks out of dusty halls of academia and into the real world. Watching the meteoric rise of YouTube science channels like MinutePhysics and SciShow, I couldn’t help wondering why universities weren’t having the same success with the medium, and whether there was a way of bridging the gap between the educational establishment, and the online education counterculture.



Carbon nanotubes as a potent cancer promoter – new data from NIOSH

by Andrew Maynard

On Monday, the National Institute for Occupational Safety released new data on the potential role multi-walled carbon nanotubes play as a cancer-promoter – a substance that promotes the development of cancer in the presence of a carcinogen.



Top 10 Most Promising Technology Trends 2013, from the World Economic Forum

by Andrew Maynard

The World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies has just published its annual list of the top ten emerging technology trends.  Based on expert assessment from council members and others, the list provides insight into technologies that have the potential to have a significant economic and social impact in the near to mid term.



At the frontiers of the science of health risk – five areas to watch

by Andrew Maynard

This week’s Risk Bites video takes a roller-coaster ride through some of the hottest topics in risk science.



Open Access Academics: Experiments with YouTube, the Science of Risk, and Professional Amateurism

by Andrew Maynard

YouTube intrigues me.  Having been dragged into the YouTube culture by my teenagers over the past two years, I’ve been fascinated by the shift from seemingly banal content to a sophisticated social medium.

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Jumping the Gap between a USA and UK High School Education

by Andrew Maynard

Is the USA education system failing, especially in science - biology, chemistry, physics? A sobering assessment.

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“We Took a Rat Apart and Rebuilt It as a Jellyfish”

by Andrew Maynard

Sometimes you read a science article and it sends a shiver down your spine.  That was my reaction this afternoon reading Ed Yong’s piece on a paper just published in Nature Biotechnology by Janna Nawroth, Kevin Kit Parker and colleagues.

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Online Learning is where Online Music was Five Years Ago

by Andrew Maynard

YouTube is gearing up to transform the way we learn…We are at the beginning of an exciting revolution in online educational content.

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YouTube does the the Higgs Boson – Science communication on the quick!

by Andrew Maynard

Hot on the heels of last week’s announcement on the Higgs Boson, some of YouTube’s most viewed science communicators burned the midnight oil to explain why this is so exciting.  Wrapping up this series of posts on YouTube, I thought I would call out three prominent YouTubers who were at VidCon last week, yet still found the time to pull together a video.

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VidCon and YouTube Science

by Andrew Maynard

Having been initiated into the alternative world of teen YouTube culture last year, I am once again being dragged along to VidCon – the Comic-Con of the online video community.  This year – the third year for VidCon – promises to be bigger than better than ever with around 6,000 signed up for the extravaganza June 28-30 at the Anaheim Convention Center. 

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Carbon Nanoparticles could be Ubiquitous to Many Foods

by Andrew Maynard

Nanotechnology leads to novel materials, new exposures and potentially unique health and environmental risks – or so the argument goes.  But an increasing body of research is showing that relatively uniformly sized nanometer scale particles are part and parcel of the environment we live in. 



2012 World Economic Forum Global Risk Report

by Andrew Maynard

The World Economic Forum Global Risks Report is one of the most authoritative annual assessments of emerging issues surrounding risk currently produced. Now in its seventh edition, the 2012 report launched today draws on over 460 experts* from industry, government, academia and civil society to provide insight into 50 global risks across five categories, within a ten-year forward looking window.

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Emerging Technologies and Sustainability: What’s risk got to do with it?

by Andrew Maynard

Q: What do you get if you place some of the leading thinkers and practitioners in the fields of technology innovation, risk, and sustainability in the same room for two days? A: One whopping headache!

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Davos 2011—Committed to changing the state of the world

by Andrew Maynard

As it did last year, the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos has left me with a daunting task - how do I summarize the highlights of the meeting in a single, short post?

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Building a Sustainable Future

by Andrew Maynard

The World Economic Forum is tackling the opportunities and challenges presented by technology innovation.

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#9: Nanotechnology and Cancer Treatment

by Andrew Maynard

Do we need a reality check?

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Small Gods and the Art of Technology Innovation

by Andrew Maynard

There’s something rather liberating about being asked to give a no-holds talk on your perspective on life, the universe, and everything. So when the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center asked if I would speak as part of their “Where do we go from here?” series, I jumped at it.

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Emerging Technologies at the World Economic Forum

by Andrew Maynard

In an interconnected world, global issues demand integrative solutions.

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Beyond the Obvious – Lessons from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

by Andrew Maynard

The immediate lessons from the Deepwater Horizon disaster are pretty obvious - we (or at least somebody) messed up!  But what about the less obvious lessons, especially those concerning technology innovation and how it’s handled?

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Limited resources and emerging technologies: China does the math

by Andrew Maynard

New technologies depend on uncommon materials, and society depends on new technologies. Which means that economies that develop the former and control the latter have something of an upper hand in today’s interconnected and technology-dependent world.

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Rehabilitating “Risk”

by Andrew Maynard

Now that I’ve had some time to get to grips with my new position as Director of the University of Michigan Risk Science Center, I thought it was high time I started letting people know something about where the Center will be heading over the next few years.

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