• British Army’s new Apache helicopters with advanced targeting begin flight tests

    British Army’s new Apache helicopters with advanced targeting begin flight tests

    Wattisham Flying Station in Suffolk has taken delivery of 14 of the new aircraft from Boeing, with 36 more due to arrive by the summer of 2024. The British Army is currently testing them, with a booster to aerial capability anticipated early next year when they enter operational capability. They are able to detect 256 potential targets at once, prioritising the most urgent threats within seconds, up to a range of 16km away. The AH-64E is the most advanced variant of the Apache. It is designed and equipped with an open systems architecture, including the latest communications, navigation, sensor and weapon systems. It also features advanced digital connectivity, a Joint Tactical Information Distribution System, capability to control unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and new composite main…

  • The eccentric engineer: the truly heroic story of Wrong-Way Corrigan

    The eccentric engineer: the truly heroic story of Wrong-Way Corrigan

    Douglas Corrigan was the right man in the right place at the wrong time when Charles Lindbergh became the first person to fly across the Atlantic solo. The son of an engineer with a troubled upbringing, he had fallen in love with flying in 1925 when he took a pleasure flight in a Curtiss JN-4 biplane. Within a week he was taking flying lessons and six months later he was flying solo. To be a flyer in the 1920s was to be an engineer, as the aeroplanes of the day required extensive maintenance just to keep flying. Corrigan soon got a job as an aeronautical engineer with the Ryan Aeronautical company, where he was charged with fitting the fuel tanks and instrument panels on a new, bespoke plane for Charles Lindbergh – the Spirit of St Louis. Lindbergh had everything going for him, including…

  • Johnson’s Scotland-Ireland bridge idea cost taxpayers £900,000

    Johnson’s Scotland-Ireland bridge idea cost taxpayers £900,000

    The Department for Transport (DfT) said the research into the feasibility of a fixed link cost £896,681. The idea of building a Scotland-Ireland connecting bridge or tunnel was finally scrapped in November 2021 . Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy led the investigation, which found that a bridge would cost £335bn, while a tunnel would require a budget of around £209bn. His report concluded that the project “would be impossible to justify” as “the benefits could not possibly outweigh the costs”. In addition to the huge expense, the inquiry also noted that the necessary work would be incredibly challenging. The ill-conceived idea was initially announced in February 2020 , as Boris Johnson sought to give his signature thumbs-up to an infrastructure project that would cement the legacy…

    E&T Magazine
  • Bionic chip inserted into retina restores partial sight to 88-year-old woman

    Bionic chip inserted into retina restores partial sight to 88-year-old woman

    The woman is the first UK patient to receive the new device as part of a Europe-wide clinical trial. It offers people with geographic atrophy (GA), the most common form of dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the hope of regaining some of their lost sight. The procedure involves inserting a 2mm wide microchip under the centre of a patient’s retina, by surgically creating a trapdoor into which the chip is posted. The patient uses special glasses, containing a video camera that is connected to a small computer attached to their waistband. The chip captures the visual scene projected by the glasses and transmits this to the computer. Image credit: Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms process this information…

  • £3.8bn EV battery gigaplant in Northumberland gets government backing

    £3.8bn EV battery gigaplant in Northumberland gets government backing

    While no figure has been formally announced, the government is believed to be spending around £100m to help the plant get up and running. The project is expected to cost around £3.8bn in total with around £1.7bn of that allocated to the plant’s building. Last July, MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee warned that hopes for large battery factories in the UK may not come to fruition without increased public financial support . The plant will generate approximately 3,000 high-value jobs with a further 5,000 indirect roles in the wider UK supply chain. It will have the capacity to build enough cells each year for over 300,000 electric vehicle battery packs, equivalent to 25 per cent of current UK vehicle manufacture. UK car production has been struggling since the Covid-19 pandemic…

  • Funding for UK’s airspace could create quicker journeys and cut emissions

    Funding for UK’s airspace could create quicker journeys and cut emissions

    The additional £3.7m is being made available to support airports in reducing journey times, pollution and flight delays. The government said this funding is in addition to the £5.5m investment announced last year. Combined, the two sums are intended to drive progress in redesigning the UK’s ‘motorways in the sky’ for the benefit of passengers, airports and the communities surrounding them. Reducing aviation emissions is also an important part of the government’s stated commitment to reach net zero. The funding is designed to support airports to develop new, more efficient flight routes that make use of modern technology, such as performance-based navigation, which will enable aircraft to fly more precise routes. The public money is being provided on an exceptional basis while the sector…

  • Book review: ‘Connect the Dots’ by Christian Busch

    Book review: ‘Connect the Dots’ by Christian Busch

    Subtitled ‘The Art and Science of Creating Good Luck’, Christian Busch’s ‘Connect the Dots’ (Penguin, £9.99, ISBN 9780241402122) has all the outward appearances of at worst one of those dreary airport bookshop business self-help books, or at best a 384-page statement of the obvious. But for the persistent reader there are rich rewards to be gleaned from tucking into the London School of Economics lecturer’s scientific analysis of the role chance plays in our success (or lack thereof), while proposing methods for turning good fortune into a financial fortune. Perhaps a better term for those random events that we put down to chance or luck might be ‘serendipity’, suggests Busch. Inventions such as Nylon, Velcro, Viagra, Post-it notes, X-rays, penicillin, rubber and microwave ovens all involved…

    E&T Magazine
  • Back story: Dr Ana Cruz Ruiz, ‘Women can offer new and different perspectives’

    Back story: Dr Ana Cruz Ruiz, ‘Women can offer new and different perspectives’

    Shini Somara: How did you get into robotics engineering? Dr Ana Cruz Ruiz: To get into robotics engineering, I first studied mechatronics. It was clear then that as a woman in robotic engineering, I was in a minority especially in Latin America. At that time, it was a new degree, and I was the only girl there. Often teachers would ask me if I was lost or in the wrong place. I didn’t say much at the time, but I think this affected my self-confidence and my ability to answer questions or put my ideas forward. There were more girls on my master’s degree in robotics, which I studied in Europe. It was nice to see more women on this course. These days, there are more girls interested in engineering. I think the problem women face now is that we experience many barriers in progressing through…

  • E&T Innovation Awards: The winners

    E&T Innovation Awards: The winners

    Held at the IET’s home of Savoy Place in London, the event saw 17 awards presented – some in person, some virtually – in a hybrid event that had the advantage of effectively opening its doors to everyone who was interested in celebrating the best projects on the planet. Winners came from around the globe. This year’s Awards programme was the first to embrace E&T’s critical targets – the societal challenges that it is incumbent on engineers and technologists to solve. Woven into the categories was recognition for those who are tackling climate change, diversity, ethics and more. The result was a stellar range of winners, all making positive contributions to the global community. Here are this year’s recipients. Difference-Maker of the Year Esther Ngumbi This year’s recipient was born…

  • Integrated digital insights can help industry cut waste and embrace the circular economy

    Integrated digital insights can help industry cut waste and embrace the circular economy

    Industries across the world are aware of the impact of their consumption. The production of waste has correlated with the release of emissions into the atmosphere. The UN’s announcement that responsible energy consumption should be the default approach makes sense to industries keen to protect the planet and avoid reputational damage. The circular economy model is right at the heart of the solution: a process in which waste is eliminated and the constant use and recycling of resources is encouraged. But this approach must bring clear business value if it is to be implemented across whole industries, and relied on through thick and thin. Sage research shows three-quarters of manufacturing and distribution organisations have a circular-economy strategy already ; their prioritisation of green…

  • Mars satellites could enter orbit in record time using automated solar panel braking

    Mars satellites could enter orbit in record time using automated solar panel braking

    Satellites on a science missions to Mars typically aim for a low-altitude orbit in order to carry out their operations. The lower the orbit, the more propellant is required to enter when arriving from Earth. To save propellant, a technique called aerobraking is used. This is where a small propulsive manoeuvre is undertaken in order to enter a large orbit; the satellite then makes many passes through the upper atmosphere, using drag on the solar panels to reduce the size of the orbit a little bit at a time until it is at the right height above the planet. The technique normally requires three to six months to complete and requires near-constant supervision by a ground team on Earth. Aerospace engineers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have now developed a way to use articulated…

  • Teardown: Fairphone True Wireless Earbuds

    Teardown: Fairphone True Wireless Earbuds

    Five years after Apple launched its AirPods, many others have entered the earbud end of the Bluetooth audio market. They stretch from heavier hitters like Samsung, Huawei and Xiaomi to specialists in low-cost peripherals. A ‘professional’ pair can cost more than £200 – Apple AirPods Pro are £239 – but prices can go down to less than £20. Quality and lifespan vary. With the increasing disappearance of the 3.5mm socket on many smartphones, there is concern about Bluetooth audio’s contribution to electronic waste. Dutch consumer electronics company Fairphone has established itself in Europe with smartphones that are repairable and recyclable. Its fourth-generation model just received 10 out of 10 for repairability from specialists at iFixit. To coincide with that, it has entered the earbud business…

  • Why isn’t the Construction Sector implementing Digital Transformation?

    Why isn’t the Construction Sector implementing Digital Transformation?

    Over the coming months, the Plain Language Guide Editorial Board will be publishing a series of opinion pieces and hosting open online calls to discuss them. In March we will be holding an exclusive in-person event for senior executives to address the issues these articles cover. This is your opportunity to participate in the debate. Scroll down to read more about the challenge of digital transformation for construction and find out how you can join us to discuss these important issues. What is Digital Transformation? Digital transformation is the development of new business processes for data – new business models. Beyond the simple concept of digitisation (which the Plain Language Guide describes on page 5), beyond making that data work for your existing business (digitalisation), digital…

  • Strict cyber-security laws proposed for firms that provide ‘essential services’

    Strict cyber-security laws proposed for firms that provide ‘essential services’

    The proposal from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) also includes other legislation such as improved incident reporting and giving the UK Cyber Security Council, which regulates the cyber-security profession, additional powers. It would allow it to create a set of agreed qualifications and certifications so those working in cyber security can prove they are properly equipped to protect businesses online. The plans follow recent high-profile cyber incidents such as the cyber attack on SolarWinds and on Microsoft Exchange Servers, which showed vulnerabilities in the third-party products and services that businesses rely on. “Cyber attacks are often made possible because criminals and hostile states cynically exploit vulnerabilities in businesses’ digital supply chains…

  • The race for quantum-resistant cryptography

    The race for quantum-resistant cryptography

    There isn’t yet a universal quantum computer big enough to break the widely used public key encryption systems, such as RSA, that secure everyday online information exchanges. Nor does anyone know when there will be. But with many predicting a significant breakthrough this decade, companies and governments are racing to launch cryptographic solutions so they can claim a stake in what is expected to be a billion-dollar market. Public key encryption is based on the assumption that factoring integers – whole numbers – with several hundred or more digits is practically impossible. An algorithm known as Shors showed that a quantum computer could meet the challenge, however, allowing bad actors to decrypt information and spy on communications without detection. And they wouldn’t even need a phishing…

  • Climate change and landslides: the slippery slope towards disaster?

    Climate change and landslides: the slippery slope towards disaster?

    “In some places the whole hill comes out. When we see these places, you would never know there was a settlement there before,” says Jampa Tsering Lama, who is a Nepalese emergency coordinator for humanitarian aid organisation People in Need (PIN). The charity has helped deliver aid to people who have been hit by some of the 300 or so landslides that struck the country in 2020 alone. “When the landslide is minor, people can recover their livelihood,” Lama explains, “but if the impact is high, their livelihood and property are wrecked.” This displaces people and means “communities are not able to return to their place of origin”. When landslides strike, the effects can be devastating. In 2021 there were several major slope collapses around the world that have caused extensive damage. On 7…

  • Bizarre Tech: Slugbunny, Mini Pupper and LaserPecker 2

    Bizarre Tech: Slugbunny, Mini Pupper and LaserPecker 2

    Slugbunny Cute. But why? This caught my eye because why wouldn’t it? Its name is Slugbunny . But it’s not what you’d expect unfortunately. I saw the pictures and thought, wow! This must be some sort of high-tech rabbit/slug hybrid that can bounce around and leave a trail of pink slime in its wake. The hype and pics make me think it’s a Furby-type gadget that I must look after. But no. It’s just a cuddly toy in a box. I’m disappointed. Described as the “squishiest, squarest, lovable bunny plush toy out there! It’s [typo, not me] soft fur is very snugglable [that’s not a word] and easy to machine wash & dry.” It’s half slug, half bunny. But not really. Its “habitat” is a hand-crafted box with a magnetic snap and pull tab, and “it’s [AGAIN?!] playful design gives Slugbunny’s ears…

    E&T Magazine
  • Fish oils used to create eco-friendly detergents, ousting petrochemicals

    Fish oils used to create eco-friendly detergents, ousting petrochemicals

    With six-figure funding support from the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC), Eco Clean is aiming to develop a more sustainable alternative to traditionally petrochemical-based surfactants, one which can be produced at scale. Surfactants – aka surface active agents – are used in detergents to disrupt the surface tension on the item being cleaned, helping to trap and remove dirt. Different types of surfactants are used as wetting agents, emulsifiers and foaming agents for a range of products. Eco Clean’s circular approach uses waste from the growing Scottish aquaculture sector to create the valuable chemical compounds, focusing in particular on the fish oils rich in fatty acids which account for around a quarter of the sector’s total by-product output. In 2020, the sector…

  • After All: Of the fateful (and sometimes nearly fatal) fatalism of fate

    After All: Of the fateful (and sometimes nearly fatal) fatalism of fate

    This column’s topic was prompted by Dr Hannah Critchlow’s book ‘The Science of Fate. Why your future is more predictable than you think’ (Hodder & Stoughton, 2019), which I spotted – among other random volumes – inside my warm and cosy office at Magdalene College, University of Cambridge, where I now work as a Writing Fellow. Left behind by the room’s previous occupiers, they varied in subjects and were scattered higgledy-piggledy on the shelves. Dr Critchlow, a leading British neuroscientist (and my fellow Magdalene Fellow), whom I subsequently met at one of the Fellows’ lunches, used to be based in that office until taking up a protracted overseas assignment, after which she was assigned a new room in the college, but some of her books remained in her old office that became mine. So, coming…

    E&T Magazine
  • AI tech helps diagnose Covid-19 ‘in minutes’

    AI tech helps diagnose Covid-19 ‘in minutes’

    The method, developed by a team at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS), can detect the virus far more quickly than a PCR test, which typically takes around  two hours. It is hoped that the technology can eventually help relieve strain on hard-pressed A&E departments, particularly in countries where PCR tests are not readily available. The technique utilises X-ray technology, comparing scans to a database of around 3,000 images belonging to patients with Covid-19, healthy individuals, and people with viral pneumonia. It then uses an AI process known as a deep convolutional neural network, an algorithm typically used to analyse visual imagery, to make a diagnosis. During an extensive testing phase, the technique proved over 98 per cent accurate, according to the researchers.…

    E&T Magazine
  • ‘Artificial pancreas’ uses algorithm to control diabetes in young children

    ‘Artificial pancreas’ uses algorithm to control diabetes in young children

    Cambridge University researchers came to the conclusion after comparing the performance of the artificial pancreas, which uses an algorithm to determine the amount of insulin administered by a device worn by the child, against ‘sensor-augmented pump therapy’. Management of type 1 diabetes is challenging in very young children because of a number of factors including the high variability in levels of insulin required and the way in which children respond to treatment differently, alongside unpredictable eating and activity patterns. Children are particularly at risk of dangerously low blood sugar levels (hypoglycaemia) and high blood sugar levels (hyperglycaemia), which can affect brain development. Image credit: cambridge university To manage children’s glucose…

  • 2021 was one of seven warmest years on record

    2021 was one of seven warmest years on record

    The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said a series of global datasets showed 2021 was the seventh year in a row where the temperature has been more than 1°C above pre-industrial levels. An assessment collating the six datasets, including one compiled by the Met Office and the University of East Anglia (UEA), reveals that 2021 was around 1.1°C warmer than the 1850-1900 average. This was despite the presence in 2020-2022 of La Niña events, a large-scale cooling of the ocean surface temperatures in parts of the Pacific Ocean and changes in tropical atmospheric circulation, which temporarily cool global temperatures. The Met Office and UEA’s dataset puts 2021 as the joint sixth-warmest year on record, while other datasets put it between the fifth and seventh warmest, with small differences…

  • The measure of: Gran Turismo Mediterranea (GTM)

    The measure of: Gran Turismo Mediterranea (GTM)

    The Gran Turismo Mediterranea (GTM) concept vessel by Rome-based Lazzarini Design pays tribute to the instantly recognisable design language of Ferrari. It has taken inspiration from the Italian carmaker’s latest hyper cars, with its designers dubbing it a ‘hyper yacht’. “We tried to imagine how a Ferrari of the seas would look,” they say. The exterior is finished in what looks like a riff on Ferrari’s recognisable Rosso Corsa red, while the superstructure is crafted from light carbon fibre that is also favoured by the automaker. Image credit: , The automotive cues continue onboard. Accessible via gullwing doors, the cabin features a racing-inspired cockpit that comes complete with pilot seats and gauges, as well as a main saloon, two double guest cabins and accommodation…

  • The measure of: Gran Turismo Mediterranea

    The measure of: Gran Turismo Mediterranea

    The Gran Turismo Mediterranea (GTM) concept vessel by Rome-based Lazzarini Design pays tribute to the instantly recognisable design language of Ferrari. It has taken inspiration from the Italian carmaker’s latest hyper cars, with its designers dubbing it a ‘hyper yacht’. “We tried to imagine how a Ferrari of the seas would look,” they say. The exterior is finished in what looks like a riff on Ferrari’s recognisable Rosso Corsa red, while the superstructure is crafted from light carbon fibre that is also favoured by the automaker. Image credit: , The automotive cues continue onboard. Accessible via gullwing doors, the cabin features a racing-inspired cockpit that comes complete with pilot seats and gauges, as well as a main saloon, two double guest cabins and accommodation…