• UK to investigate Apple and Google ‘duopoly’

    UK to investigate Apple and Google ‘duopoly’

    The   UK competition watchdog's investigation conclusions could eventually force Apple and Google to loosen their grip on mobile systems.  The announcement follows the publication of the CMA's Mobile Ecosystem Market Study report, which found that Apple and Google have an effective duopoly on mobile ecosystems, which was harming UK-based web developers and cloud gaming service providers, holding back innovation and adding unnecessary costs.  The survey concluded that this market dominance allowed the two companies to "exercise a stranglehold over operating systems, app stores and web browsers on mobile devices". The CMA’s findings state that 97 per cent of all mobile web browsing in the UK in 2021 occurred on browsers powered by Apple’s Safari or Google’s Chrome, meaning any restrictions…

  • North Sea flaring and venting crackdown results in fresh probe

    North Sea flaring and venting crackdown results in fresh probe

    Venting is the discharging of gases into the atmosphere. Flaring is burning the gases before they are discharged and mainly results in CO2 emissions. Flaring and venting of gases are periodically required for safety and operational reasons, but more can be done to reduce the amount. The probe by the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) could result in action being taken, including a fine for the as-yet unnamed company or the relevant licence being taken away. Monitoring flaring and venting and reducing emissions are vital parts of the NSTA’s work to help the UK government meet the net zero target. Flaring and venting also wastes gas that could otherwise be used to boost the UK’s energy security. Compliance with consents is both an indicator of good management of fields by licensees and…

  • Singapore researchers use waste paper to make greener battery anodes

    Singapore researchers use waste paper to make greener battery anodes

    Through a process called carbonisation which converts paper into pure carbon, the researchers turned the paper’s fibres into a carbon foam that could be used for the electrodes used in the rechargeable batteries that power mobile phones, medical equipment, and electric vehicles. To produce the carbon anodes, the researchers joined and laser-cut several thin sheets of kraft paper to form different lattice geometries, both 3D open-cell honeycombs and closed-cell plate lattices, using a sheet lamination process. The paper was then heated to 1200°C in a furnace without the presence of oxygen, to convert it into carbon by pyrolisation. As carbonisation takes place in the absence of oxygen, negligible amounts of carbon dioxide are emitted, making the process a greener alternative to incineration…

  • Ericsson to open multi-million-pound UK research centre for 6G tech

    Ericsson to open multi-million-pound UK research centre for 6G tech

    The Swedish telecommunications firm said it would invest “tens of millions of pounds” over the next decade in the new centre. The programme will employ 20 dedicated researchers with additional support for PhD students who will focus on research areas including network resilience and security, artificial intelligence, cognitive networks and energy efficiency. With 5G still in its relative infancy, 6G networks are not expected to be commercially deployed until 2030 at the earliest. Only around 50 per cent of the UK population currently has access to 5G where they live, with landmass coverage lower than 12 per cent. While finalisation of the standard is still some way off, researchers demonstrated possible 6G technologies last year with the transfer of an uncompressed, 8K ultra-high- definition…

  • View from India: Tap research for societal use

    View from India: Tap research for societal use

    The nation’s progress on the economic and social front depends on the quality of science and technology research in the country. Therefore, research in science and technology is important for a developing country that aspires to join the ranks of developed nations. Agreed. But research should come out of the lab and reach the masses; it is essential to broaden the footprint of research and ensure that it is oriented towards societal betterment. Research should look at problems that people face and try to solve them through tools or services; support and ideas could come in the form of industry collaborations. Within this, deep tech research calls for patient capital as it needs to be supported for approximately a five to 10-year period.  Research-based studies need support from the government…

  • Faster move to renewables would cut the emissions of building green infrastructure

    Faster move to renewables would cut the emissions of building green infrastructure

    A study from Columbia Climate School calculated the fossil fuel usage of building renewable infrastructure and found that, if installed quickly, future expansion can be powered by lower-carbon forms of energy. The researchers looked the cost of the green transition in greenhouse gas emissions rather than monetary expenditure. “The message is that it is going to take energy to rebuild the global energy system, and we need to account for that,” said lead author Corey Lesk. “Any way you do it, it’s not negligible. But the more you can initially bring on renewables, the more you can power the transition with renewables.” The researchers calculated the possible emissions produced by energy use in mining, manufacturing, transport, construction and other activities needed to create massive farms…

  • Electrical pulses help keep sharks and stringrays away from fishing nets

    Electrical pulses help keep sharks and stringrays away from fishing nets

    University of Exeter researchers and conservation engineers at Fishtek Marine developed the ‘SharkGuard’ device, which attaches to longline fishing rigs to scare off sharks and rays. It tested the device on French boats fishing for tuna and saw reductions in so-called bycatch (i.e. accidental catching) of blue sharks by 91 per cent and stingrays by 71 per cent. Powered by a small battery, the device works by targeting the area around a shark’s nose and mouth, which is packed with electrical sensors, called the ampullae of Lorenzini. These sensory organs get overstimulated by the electric field generated by the line’s pulse device, which makes the sharks swim away from the danger of the baited fishing hooks. Image credit: Fishtek Marine Catch of the target species…

  • Humans could be living on the Moon by 2030, Nasa says

    Humans could be living on the Moon by 2030, Nasa says

    Following the successful launch of the first Artemis mission, Nasa officials have spoken about their ambitions for the agency's lunar programme, which could send astronauts to live on the Moon before the end of the decade.  Howard Hu, the Orion programme manager, said the Artemis launch was an “historic day for human space flight” and called it "the first step we’re taking to long-term deep space exploration".  “Certainly, in this decade, we are going to have people living for durations, depending on how long we will be on the surface. They will have habitats, they will have rovers on the ground,” he told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme. “We are going to be sending people down to the surface and they are going to be living on that surface and doing science,” he added…

  • COP27 closes with no action on fossil fuels

    COP27 closes with no action on fossil fuels

    The COP27 UN climate summit in Egypt closed with a historic deal, in which n egotiators from nearly 200 countries agreed to set up a “loss and damage” fund meant to help vulnerable countries cope with climate disasters and agreed the globe needs to cut greenhouse gas emissions nearly in half by 2030. The pledge would end almost 30 years of waiting by nations facing huge climate impacts, despite their much smaller contributions to global warming.  However, many have considered the conference a missed opportunity, as it failed to set a strategy for the phasing out of fossil fuels, allowing emissions-causing hydrocarbons to remain embedded in the global economy. “We joined with many parties to propose a number of measures that would have contributed to this emissions-peaking before 2025…

  • Lottie Tour helps children see themselves as engineers

    Lottie Tour helps children see themselves as engineers

    Women make up 51 per cent of the general population in England and Wales, but according to Engineering UK , they represent just 16.5 per cent of all engineers. While that’s a six percentage point increase since the last time the research was conducted in 2010, clearly there is still much progress to be made on improving gender diversity and representation. In November 2022, the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) held its seventh annual ‘Lottie Tour’. Coinciding with Tomorrow’s Engineers Week, it is a campaign that uses ‘Lottie’ dolls, complete with engineering PPE of their own, to capture the interest of a younger primary school-aged audience and highlight career opportunities in the sector. In previous years over 150 engineers were involved with the campaign, sharing pictures of Lottie at…

  • China still not at peak emissions despite recent declines, study finds

    China still not at peak emissions despite recent declines, study finds

    The Helsinki-based Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) carried out a survey of 26 Chinese energy sector analysts and experts. It found that the country’s continued rise in energy consumption effectively cancelled out attempts to decarbonise its economy and energy infrastructure. Resolving this issue requires a combination of increased energy efficiency measures, a shift in the economic growth model, or an even larger scale of clean energy investment, CREA said. For non-CO2 greenhouse gases, there are no official quantitative targets or regular emissions reporting that would allow the assessment of trends or progress. Nevertheless, the assessment also found that China was on track in areas such as clean energy investments, electrification, building sector emissions, and…

  • Rights campaigner sues Meta over advertising practices

    Rights campaigner sues Meta over advertising practices

    Human rights campaigner Tanya O'Carroll has filed a lawsuit against Meta with the UK High Court, challenging Facebook's surveillance advertising practices.  O'Carroll, who is being represented by data rights agency AWO, reportedly sued the company after Facebook refused to respect her right to object to being profiled and her data being used for advertising purposes. “We shouldn’t have to give up every detail of our personal lives just to connect with friends and family online," O'Carroll said. "The law gives us the right to take back control over our personal data and stop Facebook surveilling and tracking us.” In her filing , the campaigner has asked the Court to enforce unqualified "rights to object" under GDPR, arguing that, under the data protection legislation currently in force…

  • Employee retention key to tackling tech’s diversity problem

    Employee retention key to tackling tech’s diversity problem

    The research, published in talent and reskill training company Wiley Edge’s new ‘ Diversity in Tech 2022’ report , reveals that nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of UK businesses admit to struggling to retain employees from underrepresented backgrounds. Although 65 per cent state that they work hard to foster an inclusive company culture, 18 per cent say that they have received complaints related to diversity and inclusion from current and former employees. The research also highlights a number of effective DE&I tactics that are being widely overlooked. Positively, more than half (55 per cent) of businesses have a mentorship programme for younger employees to support their professional and personal development. However, fewer (47 per cent) have a system in place to identify whether additional…

  • Recycling pledges from major firms have not reduced plastic use

    Recycling pledges from major firms have not reduced plastic use

    Plastic pollution has become a major ecological problem that overwhelms landfills, litters Earth’s coastlines, and affects the health of animals, including humans, while also contributing to environmental degradation and climate change. As public expectations for corporate responsibility grow, an increasing number of businesses have pledged to reduce their use of plastic. But researchers publishing in the journal One Earth detail how the focus on recycling rather than virgin plastic reduction for the world’s largest and most powerful companies is making their commitments less meaningful. The study focused on the top 300 Fortune 500 companies and found that 72 per cent had made a commitment to reducing plastic pollution. “Most of the commitments emphasise plastic recycling and commonly…

  • India’s proposed privacy law aims to ease cross-border data transfers

    India’s proposed privacy law aims to ease cross-border data transfers

    Two months after withdrawing a draft data privacy law, the Indian government has published a new proposal that could impact how tech giants such as Facebook and Google process and transfer data in one of the world's most populated nations.  If approved, the new law would allow companies to transfer some users' data abroad, while giving the federal government powers to exempt state agencies from the law in the interests of national security. The government will “notify such countries or territories outside India to which a data fiduciary may transfer personal data”, according to the draft law.  The proposed legislation stipulates that consent is necessary before collecting personal data and establishes harsher penalties for persons and companies that fail to prevent data breaches, including…

  • Tuvalu turns to the metaverse to guarantee islands’ survival

    Tuvalu turns to the metaverse to guarantee islands’ survival

    Tuvalu's foreign minister Simon Kofe has revealed the nation's plans to build a digital twin of the country and upload it to the metaverse , an interoperable online platform that relies on augmented and virtual reality (VR) to help users interact.  The announcement - made at the Cop27 climate summit - aims to preserve Tuvalu's history and culture before the nation is submerged underwater.  "As our land disappears, we have no choice but to become the world’s first digital nation," said Tuvalu's foreign minister Simon Kofe in a speech given at the climate summit, delivered against the backdrop of a digital island. "Our land, our ocean, our culture are the most precious assets of our people - and to keep them safe from harm, no matter what happens in the physical world, we'll move them to…

  • Musk’s Twitter in chaos, as office closes and more staff leave

    Musk’s Twitter in chaos, as office closes and more staff leave

    Hundreds of the firm's remaining staff rejected Musk’s ultimatum of agreeing to work "more intensely" in order to keep their jobs at the company, an industry expert has said. This standoff raises the very real possibility of Twitter being knocked offline, an event likelihood that has “dramatically increased” in the past 24 hours.   Matt Navarra, a social media consultant and industry analyst, said it was unlikely the site would go down in the next few days, but he warned that the service was under increased strain as key engineers charged with maintaining the site have left the company, just as a major event for Twitter – the FIFA World Cup in Qatar – begins this weekend. Concerns have grown over the site’s ability to stay online after Musk fired half of the company’s 7,500 workers, as…

    E&T Magazine
  • Blasting rock with microwaves could unlock the key to geothermal energy

    Blasting rock with microwaves could unlock the key to geothermal energy

    The deepest hole drilled to date - the Kola borehole - went 7.6 miles down. It took 20 years to complete because conventional equipment like mechanical drill bits can’t withstand the conditions at those depths. Massachusetts-based Quaise Energy has been developing a technology to blast rock with microwaves that could make it easier to drill the deepest holes on Earth. Speaking at a TEDX event in Boston, the firm’s co-founder Matt Houde said: “The total energy content of the heat stored underground exceeds our annual energy demand as a planet by a factor of a billion. “Tapping into a fraction of that is more than enough to meet our energy needs for the foreseeable future.” According to Quaise Energy, if holes could be dug ten miles down, temperatures can be accessed that could be used…

  • EU agrees to support €6bn European satellite system

    EU agrees to support €6bn European satellite system

    The European Union has reached a deal to build and operate a €6bn (£5.2bn) satellite internet system, driven by the bloc's push to boost its own space and communications sectors and ensure security by cutting its reliance on foreign suppliers.  The initiative was first proposed in February, but the 27-nation bloc only agreed to it today (18 November).  In order to fund the scheme, the Commission wants to divert £2.4bn from various EU programmes and use unspent money from other EU projects. The private sector is expected to also contribute by providing the remaining £3.6bn.  “Space plays a growing role in our daily lives, our economic growth, our security, and our geopolitical weight," said Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market, when the project was first announced.  …

  • Japan extends ISS participation to 2030; India launches first private rocket

    Japan extends ISS participation to 2030; India launches first private rocket

    Last year, Nasa said the space station would remain operational until at least January 2031 in yet another extension of its lifespan. Nagaoka has now confirmed that his country will help Nasa maintain this commitment as space rivals China bolster their own Tiangong space station through the launch of additional modules. In November 2020, the ISS surpassed its 20-year milestone of continuous human presence and has provided unique opportunities for research in space. Japan’s announcement comes just days after Nasa’s Artemis rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, as part of its plans to return humans to the Moon once again. The crewless voyage, which marks the start of the Artemis programme, also saw Japan participating. “ISS is inevitable as a place to verify technologies…

  • Hunt pledges to make UK ‘the world’s next Silicon Valley’ in Autumn Statement

    Hunt pledges to make UK ‘the world’s next Silicon Valley’ in Autumn Statement

    Amid increases in windfall taxes and a new 45 per cent levy on low-carbon electricity generators, the chancellor in his highly anticipated Autumn Statement also laid out the government’s plan to protect the country's research budget.  Hunt’s Autumn Statement saw major tax changes for energy companies, fossil fuel providers and electric vehicles, as well as R&D projects, in order to facilitate the chancellor's goal of combining  “our technology and science brilliance with our formidable financial services”. The 2017 Tory manifesto included a commitment to investing  2.4 per cent of the UK's GDP in research and development (R&D) initiatives by 2027, increasing from the 2018 level of 1.7 per cent of GDP invested in R&D.  However, the cost-of-living crisis and historic inflation levels had…

  • Autumn Statement slaps taxes on EVs, fossil fuels and more

    Autumn Statement slaps taxes on EVs, fossil fuels and more

    The chancellor Jeremy Hunt has increased the windfall tax on oil and gas giants from 25 to 35 per cent and given it a two-year extension, so that it will now run until March 2028. A 45 per cent levy on low-carbon electricity generators has also been announced, which is estimated will raise £14bn next year. While not reliant on generating energy from fossil fuels, low-carbon facilities such as nuclear power plants, windfarms, solar farms, hydro projects and biomass burners have nevertheless enjoyed bumper profits this year, with high wholesale gas prices pushing up the price of electricity generated from any source. The announcement saw shares in SSE, which runs gas-fired power stations alongside hydroelectric plants and windfarms, drop by 3.75 per cent just one day after it reported a…

    E&T Magazine
  • MPs' phones considered a ‘potential goldmine’ for hostile states

    MPs' phones considered a ‘potential goldmine’ for hostile states

    Tom Tugendhat gave the stark assessment of the situation after Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle issued MPs with advice from the government’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to minimise their security risks. “If hackers have switched on the microphone on one phone, everyone in the room might be overheard,” Hoyle wrote to MPs. The NCSC advice includes suggestions that MPs should set up multi-factor verification in their phones, as well as update software and delete old messages. The organisation also advised senior politicians not to take their phones into sensitive meetings, as only one person’s phone camera or microphone needed to be compromised for everyone in a room to be put at risk. The assessment follows reports of Liz Truss’s personal phone being hacked during the Tory leadership…

  • Chinese takeover of Newport Wafer blocked by British regulators

    Chinese takeover of Newport Wafer blocked by British regulators

    UK Business Secretary Grant Shapps has ordered Nexperia to sell its majority stake in Newport Wafer Fab, the Welsh semiconductor firm it acquired for £63m.  Nexperia is based in the Netherlands but owned by  Wingtech, a company partially backed by the Chinese government and listed in Shanghai. In  July 2021, the firm completed its acquisition of Newport Wafer Fab, after purchasing 86 per cent of company shares, in addition to the 14 per cent it already possessed.  The firm subsequently changed its name to Nexperia Newport Limited, or NNL. Earlier this year the UK government launched a national security probe into the deal, using powers that allow it to review and block foreign takeovers or investments in sensitive sectors. The government said yesterday (Wednesday, 17 November) that…