Thought for the month

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing: it makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”

Voltaire, writer, philosopher and playwright (1694 – 1778).

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Avogadro and the kilogram

A kilogram defined in terms of fundamental constant instead of a physical mass will expand international access to precise measurements.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Microwave launch

Testing shows using microwaves to propel a craft into space might work

Friday, 21 August 2015

Robotic self-awareness

A robot at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York has solved the famous ‘King’s Wise Men’ puzzle, which is a classic logic and self-awareness test.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Foam radiation shield

Research from North Carolina State University shows that lightweight composite metal foams are effective at blocking X-rays, gamma rays and neutron radiation, and are capable of absorbing the energy of high impact collisions. The finding means the metal foams hold promise for use in nuclear safety, space exploration and medical technology applications.

Monday, 17 August 2015

IBM's 7 nanometre node test chips

An alliance led by IBM Research has produced the semiconductor industry’s first 7 nanometre node test chips with functioning transistors.

Friday, 14 August 2015

2015 R&D 100 Award Finalists

The 2015 R&D 100 Award Finalists have been listed.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Take a look inside Google's cute little self-driving car

We've known what the outside of Google's latest self-driving car looks like for more than a year — rounded, compact, and kind of cute — but now we've seen the inside, too. Google brought its prototype vehicles to the Community School of Music and Arts in the company's home town of Mountain View on Saturday, allowing members of the local community to peek inside the automated cars as part of the Paint The Town project. The pictures they took show a surprisingly spacious seating area, no steering wheel, and a chunky, toy-like aesthetic.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Spacesuit, once found on moon is to go on show

The very suit in which pioneering astronaut Neil Armstrong made his historic moonwalks is to go on show to the public – thanks in large part to a successful crowdfunding appeal for half a million bucks that will bankroll the exhibition.

Friday, 7 August 2015

As tough as paper?

Researchers at the University of Maryland recently discovered that paper made of cellulose fibers is tougher and stronger the smaller the fibers get. For a long time, engineers have sought a material that is both strong (resistant to non-recoverable deformation) and tough (tolerant of damage).

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Pluto revealed

Pluto sends a breathtaking farewell to New Horizons. Backlit by the sun, Pluto’s atmosphere rings its silhouette like a luminous halo in this image taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft around midnight EDT on July 15.

Monday, 3 August 2015

ET the hunt continues

I have no special insights or beliefs as to whether extra-terrestrial intelligence resides somewhere out in the infinite universe. The Fermi Paradox, if intelligent life exists elsewhere then why do we see no evidence of it, seems to me to have merit. Last month saw the announcement of significant funding for project Breakthrough Listen, a comprehensive hunt for alien communications. Radio telescopes at Green Bank in West Virginia, the Parkes Observatory in Australia, and the Lick Observatory's optical telescope in San Jose, California, will scan stars in the Milky Way and a hundred other galaxies. Perhaps the general public consensus is one of expected failure. Suggesting a reading of Greek Myths, especially Pandora’s Box may seem irrelevant. However, as well as putting effort into looking for life beyond earth, I trust that some thought is being given on how to deal with a successful result.

Friday, 24 July 2015

IBM integrates III-V devices

BM is progressing the fabrication of III–V nanoscale devices integrated on both silicon-on-insulator and bulk silicon wafers.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Graphene lights bulb

The first on-chip, visible-light source that uses graphene as a filament has been created by an international team of researchers.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Robotic antics

Behind the scenes at the final DARPA Robotics Challenge. The robots at the final DARPA challenge have come a long way, but they still need a lot of human help.

Friday, 17 July 2015

More or less right

We have to learn to do more with less.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Keep focused

To stay focused, manage your emotions.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Magna Carta 2015

Magna Carta for the digital age 2015.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Silent flight

How owls could help make wind turbines and planes quieter.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Fewer fabs

IC manufacturers close or repurpose 83 wafer fabs from 2009-2014

Friday, 3 July 2015

Einstein tweets

99 Inspiring Tweets From Albert Einstein. Based on his pithy quotes, the greatest physicist of all time would definitely have been a master micro-blogger.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Sexism in science

Some comments last month about female scientists by a male septuagenarian Nobel prize-winner, including the suggestion of single-sex laboratories, not unsurprisingly caused a furore. Whether the resulting media deluge of both unfair and apposite comments constituted mob rule or a sense of balanced perspective is for others to judge. Intelligence in science does not always transfer into other aspects of life. However, one beneficial outcome is that discrimination and sexism in science is once again being debated. It is worth remembering that back in 2007 Bill Gates told a meeting: “...... if you're not fully utilizing half the talent in the country, you're not going to get too close to the top.”

Monday, 22 June 2015

Connections by the billion

Figures from the ITU say that during 2015 there will be 3.2 billion people using the internet and 7 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide.

Friday, 19 June 2015

My Thesis in 180 seconds

The "My Thesis in 180 seconds" idea is being extended into EPFL; doctoral students have three minutes to explain their research in front of a jury and a non-specialist audience.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Car chat

Driver decisions and thus automotive safety would be enhanced if vehicles could “talk” to each other and exchange information in real time. In the US, moves are underway to promote vehicle to vehicle (V2V) communications in a push for better road safety and to help facilitate self driving cars. Legal issues and allocating a suitable, secure, wireless spectrum for the V2V communications are non trivial matters to be dealt with.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Bouncing weeds

Dandelions deliver a desirable product: rubber. This is why the robust and undemanding plants have become the focus of attention of the rubber-producing industry. But how is rubber, contained in the plant’s white milky fluid, actually formed? A team of scientists has now identified proteins, which play a key role in the production of rubber in the plant. Thus a biotechnological production of rubber comes closer.