Thought for the month

“People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.” John Maxwell. US author and pastor (b 1947).

Friday, 24 March 2017

Energy saver

Material can turn sunlight, heat and movement into electricity ... all at once.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Aid or accusation?

The problem of fake data may go far deeper than scientists admit. Now a team of researchers has a controversial plan to root out the perpetrators

Monday, 20 March 2017

Graphene is good for ...?

£120m down, UK.gov finds it's still a long way from commercial potential. Wonder material, not wonder market

Friday, 17 March 2017

Beans mean graphene

A breakthrough by CSIRO-led scientists has made the world’s strongest material more commercially viable, thanks to the humble soybean.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

iPhone 7 propels Apple to record-shattering sales

Apple sold 5.4 million Macs and 78.3 million iPhones in the last three months of 2016.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Honey, I shrunk the AFM!

Researchers at The University of Texas at Dallas have created an atomic force microscope on a chip using MEMS.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Churchill saw great opportunity for exploration in the Solar System

“Are we alone in the Universe?” an essay by a lesser known science writer, Winston Churchill, has just been unearthed.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Big chip spending on R&D

Intel spent $12.7bn on R&D in 2016, 22.4% as a percentage of sales.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Small may be vulnerable

Ever worried about your phone or tablet malfunctioning due to cosmic rays and solar flares? Apparently ‘single-event upsets’ caused by particle impact is a known phenomenon but difficult to characterise in terms of related malfunctions. The semiconductor manufacturers are concerned about this problem potentially getting more serious as the size of the transistors in integrated circuits shrink. Time for a lead lined, concrete case for my laptop?

Friday, 3 March 2017

Small may be dangerous

Further evidence emerged last month on the scale of small plastic particulates in the environment with contamination recorded in tens of thousands of organisms and more than 100 species. As well as the breaking down of larger objects, many cosmetic and cleansing products contain plastic microbeads and clothing releases plastic microfibres during washing. A recent study of mussels and oysters concluded that the average European shellfish consumer has an uptake of 6400 small plastics particles per year.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Agnotology is the study of ...?

Retraction Watch probably has enough to do dealing with the sedater pace of scientific publications without delving into the high speed, social media festooned, world of fake news. Recent electoral events have not only increased the interest in this topic but also introduced agnotology to a wider audience. Agnotology is the study of ignorance or lack of knowledge. A wider definition being the study of culturally induced ignorance or doubt, particularly through the dissemination of inaccurate or misleading information. A topic whose time has come?

As Jonathan Swift so aptly wrote back in 1710: “Besides, as the vilest Writer has his Readers, so the greatest Liar has his Believers; and it often happens, that if a Lie be believed only for an Hour, it has done its Work, and there is no farther occasion for it. Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it; so that when Men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the Jest is over, and the Tale has had its Effect…”

Slightly more than 140 characters.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Nerds and scientists

The image of scientists in The Big Bang Theory.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Perfect chips

Ultra-precise chip-scale sensor detects unprecedentedly small changes in environmental conditions at the nanoscale

Friday, 24 February 2017

Dangerous potatoes

Are potatoes now a cancer risk? Here’s what you need to know

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Hot but bothered?

World temperatures hit new high in 2016 for third year in a row

Monday, 20 February 2017

Friday, 17 February 2017

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Moore's law saviours?

EUV lithography and the use of cobalt in interconnect techniques are highlighted as innovations that might maintain Moore’s Law.

Monday, 13 February 2017

The 2 biggies

Facebook and Instagram are the most used social media platforms.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Do you own a smartphone?

95% of Americans own a cellphone of some kind. 77% own a smartphone with 92% of adults in the age range 18-29 owning a smartphone.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

The price for faking data

A physicist formerly based at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for faking data. He has also been ordered to pay back $3,317,893 to the government.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Because we don’t need it

The 2016 technological graveyard is fairly full. MIT have produced their list of star technology failures for 2016. These include Volkswagen’s “defeat device” (a rather expensive few lines of software code), genetically engineered plants that luminesce (still in the dark) and the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 (far too hot a product).

Friday, 3 February 2017

Because we need it?

Shoshana Zuboff once said that ‘technology makes the world a new place’. CES2017 showcased the consumer electronic industry’s products aimed at that new place. Highlights included 2.57 mm thin room sized OLED TVs; smart and Alexa compatible home appliances and holographic head-up displays for cars. Some of the exhibits that might not make it into your household include vacuum shoes and a padded mouthpiece but are you really early adopters?

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Scientists are pretty average people

People and personalities vary, but generally I have always considered scientists to be a fairly average cross section of the human race. So is it true that narcissism is a problem in science? EPFL’s Bruno Lemaitre thinks that science is falling victim to a crisis of narcissism, where reaching the top of the scientific hierarchy increasingly depends on a glittering media profile, publishing in trophy journals and cultivating a network of academic ‘frenemies’ who are treated as close allies until they become obstacles in the path to academic glory. No stranger to controversy he considers in part that scientists can be motivated by a need for attention and authority as well as curiosity about the natural world.

Greek mythology relates that non-scientist Narcissus was punished by Nemesis - but admittedly, only after he had done some damage.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

1.8 milliseconds per century

Earth days are getting longer – by 1.8 milliseconds per century. I thought it was getting dark later and later!