Following my retirement, we have closed our company for new business.

Please do not hesitate to contact me directly, our email portal remains open and I would be delighted to hear from you and provide ongoing support or advice.

Richard Thomson

Companies represented up to the end of December 2023. Please now contact them directly.

k-Space Associates, Inc.
Phone: +1 (734) 426-7977

Phone: +49 8761 76 24 0

Wednesday 21 December 2011

ET gone home?

One petition to the US government recently boldly asserted that more than 50 percent of the American people believe there is an extraterrestrial presence and more than 80 percent believe the government is not telling the truth about this phenomenon. Sadly for the conspiracy theorists the White House has officially responded in the negative. According to the White House Office dealing with Science & Technology policy: "The US government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race. In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public's eye". But they do note that doesn't mean the subject of life outside our planet isn't being discussed or explored. In fact, there are a number of projects working toward the goal of understanding if life can or does exist off Earth. Are they implying that Star Trek is untrue?

Monday 19 December 2011

Engineering royally acknowledged

The Royal Academy of Engineering has announced the creation of The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering. A new global award which celebrates truly outstanding advances in engineering that have created significant benefit to humanity. The £1 million Prize will be awarded in the name of Her Majesty The Queen to an individual or a team of up to three people, of any nationality, directly responsible for advancing the positive application of engineering knowledge. The Prize will be international and will be awarded biennially, the first being presented in Spring 2013. Nominations will be sought in early 2012 from appropriate organisations worldwide, including engineering and science academies, universities, research organisations and companies. In looking for the winners, the judging panel will be seeking outstanding engineering-led advances that have produced tangible and widespread public benefit.

Friday 16 December 2011

Lightweights at Caltech

A team of researchers from UC Irvine, HRL Laboratories and the California Institute of Technology have developed the world's lightest material - with a density of 0.9 mg/cc - about 100 times lighter than Styrofoam. The new material, which is 99.99% air, is formed of hollow nickel/phosphorus tubes arranged into a micro-lattice cellular architecture. Developed for the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, the novel material could be used for battery electrodes and acoustic, vibration or shock energy absorption.

Wednesday 14 December 2011

And then there was ...

A group of physicists working at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, have succeeded in proving that visible photons can be produced from the virtual particles that have been thought to exist in a quantum vacuum. The experiment is based on one of the most counterintuitive, yet, one of the most important principles in quantum mechanics: that vacuum is by no means empty nothingness; it teems with virtual particles flitting in and out of existence. Using the vibrational speeds associated with a superconducting quantum interference device to enact the dynamical Casmir effect the team was able to convert the virtual photons into real ones. Almost magical.

Monday 12 December 2011

Speedy Intel

The SC11, supercomputer conference, in Seattle saw Intel show off an accelerator chip on a test machine capable of speeds of one teraflop, equal to one trillion calculations per second. The chip packs 50 individual processors into one unit. Not quite faster than light or neutrino speeds but still fairly quick.

Friday 9 December 2011

Icarus flies to the rescue?

It was looking a bit bleak for Mr Einstein. The OPERA group at Gran Sasso laboratory had reviewed and refined their September observations and reported that the CERN neutrinos were still travelling faster than the speed of light. However a further experiment, also at Gran Sasso, called ICARUS captured some of the neutrinos and measured their energy rather than journey time. According to theory, any neutrinos that were at superluminal velocity would have to be emitting radiation and thus losing energy. The ICARUS group found no evidence of radiation as the neutrinos arrived with the same energy as they left. The inference thus being that they cannot have been travelling faster that light.

Gioachino Rossini wrote Italian comic operas, however I don't recall one about flying Greeks. But as has often been said about Brünnhilde's final aria from Götterdämmerung, it ain't over 'til the fat lady sings. There is more to come.

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Top Innovators

Thomson Reuters has announced the world's 100 most innovative organisations. The ranking methodology they used to identify innovative organisations is based on four principle criteria: Patent approval success rate, global reach of patent portfolio, patent influence in literature citations and overall patent volume. The US continues to lead this list and Asia and Europe are placed second and third, respectively. There are no completely UK organisations on the list. China is not yet ranked because of its practices regarding protecting IP and commercialising products globally. Whilst the US dominates in the semiconductor and electronics areas, Asia in the computer hardware sector and Europe in machinery manufacture it is interesting to note the position of France. It leads the world in scientific research and is the European nation with the most companies represented in the list.

Monday 5 December 2011

Three in a row

We are pleased to announce the third K-Alpha XPS system sale in the UK this year, to a well-known industrial group with significant experience in XPS. The K-Alpha proved the match of all our competition, commented Richard Thomson, RTA Instruments Director. We ticked all the boxes with an exceptional solution for high quality, high-throughput, low-cost sample analysis. Intuitive workflows allow multiple operators to quickly master high quality XPS data acquisition, interpretation and reporting. In the UK we now have coverage of all XPS user categories: first time industrial users; first time academic users; experienced industrial users and experienced academic users.

Friday 2 December 2011

"May you live in interesting times"

"May you live in interesting times" is an often used phrase and alluded by many to be some ancient Chinese curse. Regrettably, facts frequently get in the way of a good story. The phrase actually appears to be of early 20th century western origin with Robert Kennedy bringing it to prominence in a speech in South Africa in 1966. Whatever the exact origination, it seems fair to say that we are living in challenging and interesting times. Current fiscal matters coupled with the interlocking nature of the global economies has already, and could further, adversely impact many of us. I have neither the ability, nor desire, to attempt to solve the world recession and the plight of the Euro currency in this newsletter. However, in searching for solutions and avoiding repeating past mistakes, I do advocate that more use is made of scientific thinking. The banking fraternity could do well to consider Occam's Razor (simple explanations are, other things being equal, generally better than complex ones). If you cannot explain sub-prime derivative products to your grandmother, think again. Isaac Newton knew a bit about money, he was created Master of the Mint in 1699. His first law of motion should be explained to EU leaders; things only change if you take some positive action otherwise they just carry on.

Perhaps there is light at the end of the tunnel. Lucas Papademos, Greece's new Prime Minister, is an MIT alumnus with a bachelor’s degree in physics, a master’s degree in electrical engineering as well as a doctorate in economics. Just don't let the latter drag you down Lucas.