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Day 3 Euroscience Open Forum 2008: highlights

Nanotechnology applications in medicine may carry toxicity risks, Dr Hermann Stamm of the DG Joint Research Centre, European Commission, tells the Euroscience Open Forum 2008 (ESOF2008) in Barcelona today.

While applications of nanotechnology in medicine have great potential to improve healthcare by earlier and better diagnosis there are possible risks to our health, Dr Hermann Stamm of the Joint Research Centre, European Commission, will today tell the Euroscience Open Forum 2008 in Barcelona.

“Nanotechnology must be applied in a safe and secure way, in order to fully develop the exciting opportunities for application in life science and other fields,” said Stamm.

“Discussion around Nanotechnology and any possible health risks linked to its application is just one field where the challenges of communicating them to the public and stressing the need for informed decisions must be based on sound science,” said ESOF2008 Co-Chair and Euroscience President Enric Banda. “One of the goals of ESOF2008 is to communicate to the general public the impacts of science on their daily lives,” concluded Banda.

Nanotechnology and health: promises and risks

“In general our regulatory frameworks for nanomaterials seem sufficiently broad and flexible to handle most developments”, reassures Hermann Stamm. “But the most prominent risk to health arises from the unknown toxicity of engineered nanomaterials, for example in the use of nanoparticles transported in the body’s tissue which allow for the development of novel pharmaceuticals. These raise concerns of adverse health effects which arise from greater toxicity than expected from the elemental composition” said Stamm.

‘Mars and Venus’ – how Europeans and Americans view and use science

“Is greater and closer collaboration between the US and Europe the key to overall success for science in the face of global competition?” is the question that Alan Leshner will pose in the ‘Mars and Venus’ Session at the Euroscience Open Forum 2008 in Barcelona. “Both the US and Europe face new challenges on how science is viewed and used – from stem cells to climate change. But there continues to be tension between scientific information and political direction. With stakeholders from big business to the media pitching different views, citizens are left wondering who they can really trust?” said Leshner.

"The European Union and the United States of America form a unique relationship as international partners in science,” Roland Schenkel, Director General, DG Joint Research Centre (JRC), European Commission, will tell delegates. “Our approaches to scientific research and development can be different but we share common interests and goals. We are also faced by the same evolving global challenges. It is vital that we learn from each other in facing them together”, said Schenkel.

Maths – art or science?

“Is mathematics a creative art or useful science?” will be the question posed by the leading mathematician and gifted public communicator Marcus Du Sautoy, a Plenary speaker at Euroscience Open Forum 2008. He will explore the role of maths as the key to many of the greatest scientific and technological advances made throughout the ages. Du Sautoy will also look at how maths underpins many of the steps that artists exploit in their creative processes, taking the mathematical structures hiding behind such great works like the Alhambra and Bach’s Goldberg Variations as examples.

Smart energy homes

‘Will people be prepared to pay more to live in a Smart Energy Home which is self sufficient, or even a net positive, energy generator not requiring an external energy source and not emitting CO2?’ is one of the key questions Sean McWhinnie, an expert on smart energy homes, will raise at the Euroscience Open Forum 2008. “Our session will show that science and technology can be used in such a way as to persuade people to want to live in smart energy homes”, said McWhinnie.

Michael Kessler | alfa
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