Thought for the month

“It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare.” Edmund Burke, politician (1729 – 97).

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and a polymath, considered that time is money and that wasting time was a great prodigality. Elon Musk may, or may not, ultimately deserve some mention in the history text books, only time will tell, but his email to employees last month has caused comment. Walking out of meetings once you cannot add value and side stepping the ‘chain of command’ being two suggested productivity enhancers. I think that he is on to something with the general theme, but if it starts to look like a good Dilbert cartoon then it is probably best to have a rethink.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Let there be matter

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Monday, 23 April 2018

Friday, 20 April 2018

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Monday, 16 April 2018

More fab spending

Friday, 13 April 2018

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Elvis is alive
... and Melania Trump has a body double. An MIT study indicates that falsehood diffuses significantly farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth. This rapid dissemination of false news is not just accountable to algorithms and bots or a few powerful social media influencers. It is mainly down to us. Apparently false news is more novel and we are more likely to share novel information within our network.

Monday, 9 April 2018

What next?
The semiconductor industry is well aware of the massive changes in society and technology it has facilitated in the last seventy years. The march of innovation is inextricably linked to the associated and preceding research. But what of the future? The Semiconductor Industry Association and the Semiconductor Research Corporation have come together to set a vision for US semiconductor research in the years ahead. The vision document sets out 14 priority technical areas in which research is essential to future progress. These range from materials to metrology and characterisation.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

“We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.” The words of Professor Stephen Hawking who died last month. He was special. It is fitting that his ashes will rest alongside Newton and Darwin. His work on black holes and cosmology will give him a place in the annals of physics. However to many the detailed science is overshadowed by the person. In a world of banality and bling with ‘followers’ and ‘likes’ mistaken for achievement and worth he was different. The most recognisable scientist of our age. A communicator and a populariser of science who inspired many. Long may others aspire to copy.


We might not need or be able to fully understand Hawking Radiation but we can emulate the late Professor – try listening to Mozart and Beethoven in times of need.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Stress and wafer curvature tool installed

k-Space Associates, announced that Leti, an institute of CEA and leading innovator in nanotechnology research and technology, has installed a kSA MOS ThermalScan system for the  measurement of film stress and wafer curvature.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Towards reproducibility

More than 70% of researchers have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist’s experiments with selective reporting and pressure to publish being considered the biggest drivers of lack of reproducibility (http://www.nature.com/news/1-500-scientists-lift-the-lid-on-reproducibility-1.19970 ). A better understanding of statistics and improved mentoring were identified as areas for improvement. Recent comments have focussed on the role of computers and software in the lack of transparency (https://theconversation.com/how-computers-broke-science-and-what-we-can-do-to-fix-it-49938 ). Open research, registered reports, data sharing and rewarding confirmatory work are tangible actions that should increase reproducibility (https://theconversation.com/the-science-reproducibility-crisis-and-what-can-be-done-about-it-74198). Last month one academic suggested (https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2017/mar/13/fraudulent-research-academic-misconduct-solutions) having an anti-corruption squad.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Losing its shine?

Dark matter is an established postulate. It needs to exist in order to explain the motions of galaxy clusters. Undetected to date, its existence has been somewhat the preferred option to modifying General Relativity’s version of dynamics. However are we seeing the start of a dark matter mood shift? Older universes seem less reliant than expected on dark matter and galaxy rings are showing anomalous behaviour. Will Einstein have to join with the dark side? Or will the force be with him?

Monday, 3 April 2017

Mind over smartphone - or vice versa?

Our habits and the way we think have always been changed by technology. The printing press, agricultural machinery, the motor car and the television have all contributed to behavioural and attitudinal changes. Is the ubiquitous smartphone something more insidious? Is our reliance on this easy to access tool outsourcing our memory functions and leading to cognitive decline? Are spatial and navigational strategies at threat from the use of GPS? Indeed are musculoskeletal changes resulting due to hours spent hunched over these devices? An interesting article looked at many of these issues and whilst it notes that we may never know just how our digital toys shape our brains, our brains are responding and adapting to it. The bigger challenge may come not from what exactly the technology does to us and our lives but what by default it displaces. Less time spent on activities such as parenting, socializing and exercise may have greater consequences for society.

The historian Niall Ferguson once opined: the law of unintended consequences is the only real law of history.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Towards printable solar cells

New perovskite solar cells have achieved an efficiency of 20.1 per cent and can be manufactured at low temperatures, which reduces the cost and expands the number of possible applications.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Big spenders

Worldwide R&D expenditures and other science and technology indicators by ranked country.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Humans fold

An artificial-intelligence program known as Libratus has beaten the world's absolute best human poker players in a 20-day No-Limit Texas Hold'em tournament.

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.