2018 Nobel prize for physics awarded to the first woman in 55 years.

The 2018 Nobel prize for physics has been awarded to three different researchers who all specialise in the use of powerful lasers to assist study of the worlds tiniest particles.

This year’s prize has been split between three winners. Half  of the award goes to Arthur Ashkin from Bell Laboratories in Holmdel US, who invented the ‘optical tweezer’ – this method actually traps atoms, particles and viruses in between two beams of light and subsequently holds them there.

Strickland is the first woman in 55 years to claim the award and only the third woman to ever collect the award for physics. In comparison, 207 men have won the award. This comes just days after a Cern physicist sparked outrage after claiming women are less capable of physics research.

What is fracking?

What is fracking?

Fracking, and hydraulic fracturing, is a method to extract oil and gas from the earth. The process involves drilling down into the earth then water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at  very high pressure. This then allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well. The term ‘fracking’ actually refers to how the rock is then fractured due to the high-pressure mixture.

In addition to this it involves pumping up to 17 Olympic swimming pools’ worth of water, chemical additives and sand into the earth lying up to three kilometres underground. This develops into a series of small fractures in the rocks, releasing gas or oil that moves into the water stream and is pumped or carried to the surface.

Fracking has been directly linked to causing earthquakes. As a specialist from Newcastle University wrote for “Earthquakes can occur when fracking takes place near a geological fault. It’s a bit like how a hovercraft works, by pumping air to produce a cushion so it can slip more easily over the land surface. If frack fluid is pumped into a geological fault, it can also slip more easily. Fracking can also change the stress on the fault, causing it to release, and a big enough fault shift will be felt as an earthquake.”

£10m grant to develop prosthetic limbs which provide sensory feedback to the patient

Some Researchers at the Imperial College in London have been granted a £10m European Research Council (also known as ERC) Synergy Grant. This will allow them to work with partners to deliver natural sensations to prosthetic limbs.

The grant has been awarded to the international group, led by London’ Imperial College Professor Dario Farina, they will now develop prosthetic limbs that will be able to sense surroundings and provide vital sensory information to the patients.

He said: “We have partly worked out how to let the brain command a prosthetic limb. Now, we want to reach fully natural control and to have the limbs talk back to the brain via natural sensations.”

Last year (2017), Prof Farina’s research group managed to develop an arm that patients would be able to move at will, it used a sensor to pick up movement from muscles in a stump and then convert them into commands for the arm.

The next steps is for the researchers to identify a selection or selection of patients to work with and develop a breakthrough idea for controlling and feeling robotic limbs.

The team will initially surgically construct a ‘bio-hub’ in each patient this is where nerves that deliver control signals to the missing limbs and sensations to the brain are surgically directed.

Prof Farina said: “Creating a hyper-reinnervated bio-hub is equivalent to building bio-connectors that will allow us to receive signals from the spinal cord and to provide sensations, such as the sense of limb position, into the spinal cord. In this way, we will be able to connect the spinal cord circuitries with robotic limbs to make them a natural part of the patient’s body.”

 

Dyson unveils electric vehicle proving ground.

Hullavington has 400 members of Dyson automotive team following an £84m investment into the former RAF base which occupies 517 acres in the Cotswolds. Phase one development has seen two aircraft hangars restored and three more on course for delivery, creating an extra 15,000m2 of testing space, Phase two – which could bring investment at the airfield to £200m – outlines 45,000sqm of new development space that could accommodate over 2,000 staff. Test facility proposals include a dynamic handling track, a vehicle stability dynamic platform, an off-road route, a hill and handling road route, plus a fast road route and test slopes.

Dyson CEO Jim Rowan said: “Our growing automotive team is now working from Dyson’s …hangars at Hullavington Airfield. It will quickly become a world-class vehicle testing campus where we hope to invest £200m, creating more high-skilled jobs for Britain. We are now firmly focused on the next stage of our automotive project.” In September 2017 Dyson revealed it would be investing £2bn into the development of a battery electric vehicle platform for launch in 2021.

The company also recently trademarked the terminology ‘Digital Motor’ for automotive use. Previously used only on its household products, the Digital Motor moniker describes a brushless permanent-magnet synchronous motor — the same type found in many electric vehicles currently on the market.

The trademark, filed recently for the European market, applies to both cars and non-road-going machines, although the use of the trademark in an automotive context is a first for the company. Dyson’s first car is due next year and the brand also wants to grow its EV programme workforce by 300 people in a bid to ramp up the pace of development before the vehicle reaches the market.

Extension to Walney windfarm set to make it the UK’s biggest.

The Walney extension has just recently opened, it sits just off the to the Cumbrian Coast in the UK and the opening makes it the UK’s largest wind farm site. The site already has 102 turbines located on their site, the Walney Extension means the installation of around 90 more wind turbines. The wind farm, which sits in the Irish Sea about 19km off Barrow-in-Furness, now covers an area of around 145 square km. “The UK is the global leader in offshore wind and Walney Extension showcases the industry’s incredible success story,” said Matthew Wright, UK managing director for Ørsted, which owns the wind farm. The 659-megawatt project can generate enough green energy to power almost 600,000 homes. It overtakes the London Array in the Thames Estuary as the world’s biggest wind farm.

“Record-breaking engineering landmarks like this huge offshore wind farm help us consolidate our global leadership position, break records for generating renewable energy, and create thousands of high-quality jobs,” said Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry. The Extension brings the total capacity operating out of Barrow to 1.5 gigawatts, which is enough to power more than 1.2 million UK homes. Ørsted’ s ongoing operations and maintenance activities will support more than 250 direct jobs in the region. The Walney Extension features 40 MHI Vestas 8MW turbines and a further 47 Siemens Gamesa 7MW turbines, with blades manufactured in Hull and the Isle of Wight. According to Ørsted, the project has worked with more than 50 key suppliers from across the UK, supporting the growth of offshore wind ‘clusters’ around the country.

1 step closer to the ‘Bionic Eye’

We are closer to Bionic Eye than we have ever been. A team of researchers who represent the University of Minnesota have successfully 3D printed an array of light receptors on to a hemispherical surface. This really is a huge step towards creating the “bionic eye”. Obviously this would revolutionise the current procedure to helping blind people or sighted people see better.

“Bionic eyes are usually thought of as science fiction, but now we are closer than ever using a multi material 3D printer,” claimed Michael McAlpine, co-author of the study and University of Minnesota

Initially the research started when they overcame the challenge of printing electronics onto a curved surface. They successfully got the electronics onto a hemispherical glass dome to demonstrate how they jumped this first hurdle. Then using their advance 3D printer they painted a base layer of ink (silver particles). This ink did its job and stayed in place once dried, this is what they wanted rather than having the ink run down the dome. Then the researchers used semiconducting polymer materials which succeeded in printing photodiodes (their role is to convert light into electricity).

The Douro region in northern Portugal is set to recieve a £1.5 billion investment in hydro power.

In the Douro region, a place in northern Portugal is set to receive a major economic boost as a massive £1.5 billion investment in renewable energy. Hydro energy which is what will be invested in, in the Douro area. Three new dams and a power plant is planned to be built by the Spanish utility board, Iberdola. The plants will be located on the Tâmega and the Torno rivers, tributaries of the larger Douro, which rises in Spain and flows across northern Portugal to the Atlantic Ocean. Iberdola the parent company of Scottish power will start operating a new infrastructure in 2023.
“The development of the Tâmega hydro power scheme involves three of Iberdrola’s core strategic undertakings,” said Ignacio Galán, chairman and CEO of Iberdola. “Investing in clean generation capacity, the development of new storage capacity – with pumped hydro being the only technology to store large amounts of energy efficiently – and sustainable financing. 23 per cent of our financing is already green, which highlights our commitment to sustainable development.”
The Iberian market are set to receive up to 1,760GWh and 13,500 new jobs will be created in the Douro region during the construction phase and several hundred jobs would be made permanent after to keep up with the maintenance of the dams. Funding from the European international bank of around £650 million was confirmed in Madrid later.
“This agreement represents a new step towards the implementation of the EU energy policy and climate action objectives,” said EIB vice-president, Emma Navarro. “This EIB financing will support the increase of renewable generation in the Portuguese energy mix and will contribute to a sustainable and secure supply of energy. The EIB, which stands ready to step in to finance sound projects that meet our criteria and respond to EU energy policies, is particularly committed to financing green energy projects across the Union.”

The UK is set to introduce the world’s first gigawatt network of rapid EV charging points and grid-scale batteries

Pivot Power has released plans for a £1.6bn programme to build the infrastructure needed to support the increase in popularity of electric vehicles. The battery network will also help the National Grid to manage supply and demand, particularly with the greater use of intermittent renewable energy and mass charging of electric cars. The company, which has secured funding from UK investment manager Downing LLP, is planning to develop 45 sites across the country, with the first likely to begin operating at a location near Southampton in 2019, according to chief technical officer Michael Clark.

A further nine sites are due to begin operating within the next 18 months, he said. “Then the ambition is that over a five-year period, we’ll have all 45 sites up and running.”. “It means that we can operate at a scale that we couldn’t dream about if we were going in at the 11,000-volt network on the distribution side,” he said. “It also means that we can avoid some of the costs that we would have to occur if we were a lot further down the distribution system.”

The battery network will be capable of storing enough electricity to supply 235,000 homes for a day and releasing or absorbing two thirds of the power of the planned Hinkley C nuclear power plant. The vehicle charging stations will be able to support up to 100 rapid 150kW chargers. Once available in the UK, they will also be able to support rapid 350kW chargers. Each charging station will have a 20MW power connection, enough to supply a town of 10,000 homes. Combining batteries with electric vehicle charging will maximise the value from each grid connection, while gaining economies of scale from such a large network should drive down building and operating costs, the company said.

The first ever mid-air refuelling has been completed by Airbus

Airbus has claimed the worlds first automatic refuelling. While the manoeuvre had previously been undertaken to refuel a fighter jet, this time around the Airbus’ A310 company development tanker linked up with a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport, also made by Airbus. During the June 20 flight off the coast of Spain, the two tankers performed seven automatic contacts.
For this manoeuvre to happen, the refuelling system uses passive techniques such as image processing to determine the receiver’s refuelling receptacle position. Once engaged, fully automated flight control flies and maintains the boom aligned with the receiver’s receptacle. A tube to transfer the fuel from one aircraft to another is controlled in a range of ways including manually by the Air Refuelling Operator (ARO), a relative distance-keeping mode to make sure the 2 aircrafts don’t drift apart too far causing it to damage one of the aircrafts, or full auto-mode to perform the contact.
“It was extremely impressive to see how accurately the A3R system tracks the receiver,” said David Piatti, the Airbus Test ARO, or “boomer”, on the A310. “It can be very useful to be able to refuel another tanker or transport, for example to extend its deployment range or to avoid taking fuel back to base, but it is also a challenging operation and this system has the potential to reduce workload and the risk involved.
RAAF Squadron Leader Lawry Benier said the RAAF was assisting Airbus Defence & Space on the development of A3R and other technologies to increase the KC-30A’s battle capabilities.
“It’s very encouraging to come to Spain and see the progress that’s been made with A3R, and be able to witness it first-hand refuelling our KC-30A,” he said.
“Refuelling large receivers is a role RAAF has conducted extensively on operations and exercises, allowing us to extend the reach and responsiveness of our air mobility fleet, as well as keep surveillance aircraft in the air for longer.”

Construction is changing, But is the Construction industry adapting to digitised methods?

Innovation and Technological advancements are changing all industries worldwide. Construction appears to be no different, with firms now using digital construction methods to increase profitability we look at whether there are issues that come with these changes.

One firm who provide fire protection systems to the industry are one of many trying to develop their methodology.

Bolster

Do demonstrate how digitisation is affecting the sector we can look at all the different software applications used from day to day to complete projects. Bolster is one of those, and its aim is to deliver transparency and clarity on projects remotely.

“We use Bolster every day, its brilliant it allows us to see in real-time the work our operatives are doing on our sites,” one user says. “We simply upload a drawing that can be accessed by desktop or mobile device; the operative can log in and mark the room where they are working on the job and take photos as work progresses.”

This digital worksheet is date and time stamped so that the operatives seniors and the client can follow the progress every step of the way. In addition to this it also allows everyone to keep an eye on budget and costs throughout.

Middle age ground

Research shows that age does on occasion present itself as a critical factor in the new systems success. This is particularly relevant due to the industries ageing workforce.

“I’ve noticed that the age category [of staff] makes a huge difference,”. One senior director says. “Our younger member of the team who are approximately 18-27 that are coming through are very open, happy to take things on board and adapt to whatever [digital innovation] they are given.”

He believes it is vital to find some middle ground. “We could play a role in finding a happy medium to bring in training courses and more awareness for [older staff on technology], but still have paper exercises in place for the younger ones,” he says. “It’s about recognising people’s individual capabilities and limitations and trying to capitalise on that while bringing them up to speed.”