FOEA Emerging tech Project

Floating nuclear power plants

Floating nuclear power plants − perhaps not a string of words that you have come across before? And probably for a good reason – it makes no sense. Yet researchers looking into how to avoid repeating nuclear disasters, like the Fukushima meltdown in 2011, seem to think floating nuclear power plants (FNPP) are the solution to generating safe nuclear energy. By floating in open water, FNPPs are thought to be at lower risk of damage from tsunamis...

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‘Waterproof’ nanocoatings

Nanotechnology-based waterproof coatings are taking the internet by storm. Companies such as NeverWet, P2i and UltraEverDry are promising to protect your precious objects, electronics and home surfaces with their nanomaterial products. Albeit for only about a year before they start to break down – especially when exposed to light. These products use a wide range of chemicals, some of which we’ve sadly encountered before – such as fluorocarbons...

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The wooly mammoth project

Along with the Passenger pigeon, the thylacine and the dodo, new stories about the woolly mammoth just won’t go away. You know − the one where they bring them back from extinction. Termed ‘de-extinction’, scientists are talking about taking the genomes of living species and editing, gene-by-gene, to re-create entire genomes. Harvard University Professor George Church even claims that reanimating the woolly mammoth could...

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Climate engineering will never stop climate change

Injecting particles into the stratosphere to shade and cool the Earth will never stop climate change. This is the dramatic claim made in the July 2014 issue of Nature Climate Change by an international group of prominent scientists. In theory, the amount of solar radiation that falls on the Earth can be limited quite simply by dispersing fine sulphate particles in the stratosphere. The group of scientists investigated whether applying solar...

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‘Partner or Perish’? The convergence of public and private interests pose new questions for controversial university research

There is a part of the University of Queensland’s (UQ) history that is the stuff of a thriller novel. It is well known the Mayne family bequeathed land where the UQ St Lucia campus now sits, and that the family continues to regularly donate to the University, with the family trust providing $20 million alone to the University between 2000 and 2010. While the Mayne family was one of the richest families in Brisbane’s early settlement...

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Don’t leave technology policy to the ‘experts’

It is precisely Henry Miller’s attitude of leaving policy and technology development to the ‘experts’ that has left us in the position we find ourselves today. The development of nuclear technology has resulted in the Fukishima disaster and the proliferation of nuclear weapons to countries such as North Korea; the green revolution has poisoned soil and water and destroyed agrarian cultures; and the development and widespread use of fossil fuel technologies is fuelling catastrophic climate change.

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