Winner of the 2017 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, Dr Michael Tompsett, was last night awarded the Royal Photographic Society’s top prize.
Established in 1878, the Progress Medal recognises the inventions, research, publication or contribution that has resulted in an important advance in the scientific or technological development of photographic imaging in the widest sense.
Tompsett received the honour for the invention of the imaging semiconductor circuit and analogue-to-digital converter chip at the heart of the charge coupled device (CCD). The CCD image sensor is found in early digital cameras and is packed with light-capturing cells called pixels. When particles of light, or ‘photons’ hit these pixels, they produce an electrical pulse. Brighter lights produce a stronger electrical pulse.
The Thames Deckway is an exciting green transport infrastructure project in London. We aim to tackle some of the big urban challenges facing our city and others like it.
With the support of Innovate UK, we are currently working towards realising our technology demonstrator in east London in 2018.
New figures from Transport for London (TfL) show that more people are cycling in the city than ever before. Despite this, currently one bicycle journey in every 515,000 ends in death or serious injury. At the same time, air pollution from vehicle emissions results in a wide range of health impacts, which significantly reduces life expectancy within the city. Compounding on these issues, projections of future climate change paint a bleak picture. For example, with much of the transport network below ground, more than 57 tube stations would be at risk of climate induced flooding.
In just one hour, our sun provides enough energy to supply the world’s electricity for an entire year. This, and many other arguments for solar energy, have made their way into people’s awareness since the 1960s. More recently, concerns over our changing climate have led to an increased interest. Yet solar power has still not been fully embraced. At the time of writing, solar power accounts for a meager 1% of total global energy production.
The technology to capture solar energy exists. Additionally, cheaper and more efficient solar cells are racing their way to industrialization., But ‘more efficient’ doesn’t always ensure adoption by consumers, homeowners and cityscapes. More importantly, adopting a green technology doesn’t always ensure green behavior by the those who use it!
However, access to music is limited by the need for a high level of skill and understanding. This is particularly true for young children. Most children do not start learning an instrument until they are 8 years old, with the guitar and piano being popular choices. Music makes kids more mindful, creative, intelligent, social and happy. Studies suggest 96% of all parents want their child to learn music. To introduce children to music, they are often given shrunken versions of adult-sized instruments. These are hard to play, unengaging and are not social, discouraging budding musicians. Many children drop out of piano lessons due to disinterest.
SMASHfestUK started life as a birthday party. Dr Lindsay Keith had been bemoaning the fact that she hadn’t been able to go to a festival for years. So her partner, Wyn Griffiths, decided that for her birthday, he would bring the festival to her. Tucked in a small pub in South East London, it lasted all day and included the best bits of her favourite festivals; science, comedy, music and art.
It was tremendous fun, but it got us thinking; why shouldn’t everyone get to enjoy this? We’re based in Deptford, London, an area where 40% of young people live in poverty and almost 80% of the young population is from a black or ethnic minority background. Research suggests that young people from BME backgrounds are only one third as likely to follow a career in STEM, and that children growing up in poverty are far less likely to enter STEM industries as a career.
A newly developed, hands-free musical instrument could be the next novel rehabilitation therapy for patients with motor disabilities.
The ‘Encephalophone’ is an instrument that can be controlled by the mind alone, with no external stimuli needed. The researchers hope it could play an important role in empowering and rehabilitating those diagnosed with motor neurone disease, spinal cord injuries, stroke or amputation. It was designed by Thomas Deuel, a neurologist and neuroscientist at Swedish Medical Centre.
“I am a musician and a neurologist, and I have seen many patients who played music prior to their stroke or other motor impairment, who can no longer play an instrument or sing,” said Deuel. “I thought it would be great to use a brain-computer instrument to enable patients to play music again without requiring movement.”
Inspired by insect wings that kill bacteria on contact, Indian researchers have developed a method to treat the surface of titanium orthopaedic implants at nano-scales so that they resist bacterial infection — a complication that often develops following surgery.
Orthopaedic implants like hip joints, knee joints, plates and screws can be treated to resist bacteria without the use of antibiotics, says a paper published online in Scientific Reports (23 January).
On 26th January this year I had the pleasure of watching 20th Century Fox’s new film Hidden Figures with a group of school girls from Manchester. This was an exclusive premiere screening organised by the Manchester United Foundation, preceded by a panel Q&A which allowed the girls to find out what it is really like to work in a STEM career. My fellow panel members were Ginny Buckley (broadcaster and motoring journalist), Anita Bernie (Director of Spacecraft Platforms at Surrey Satellite Technology), Hazel Macnamara (Audit Partner at PWC) Elspeth Finch (Chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Innovators’ Network) and Rachel Riley (mathematician and presenter of Countdown).