• What would it take to get everyone in the world connected?

    What would it take to get everyone in the world connected?

    Many of us in the West take things like the internet, electricity, clean water and transport for granted, yet millions of people around the world still aren’t connected to these utilities. Without these an individual’s educational and economic opportunities are greatly impacted, as well as their access to services such as banking and healthcare. But which of the most disenfranchised groups should we focus on to increase the number of people connected to what we consider as essentials to modern life, and is it possible to connect everyone in the world? For most people reading this article, fast, reliable internet access is a given. When we have a question, it is second nature to pick up our phone and search on Google, or even ask your smart home device of choice. Yet the reality is,…

  • Closing the gap in the elderly and digital divide

    Closing the gap in the elderly and digital divide

    In Spain, Carlos San Juan de Laordon, a 78-year-old Parkinson’s patient, was frustrated by banks that were happy to hold his pension and savings but had closed all their branches, forcing all transactions online. So, he launched a petition. De Laordon was comfortable using internet services like Skype but because of his tremors, found the dexterity involved in banking apps too difficult. The retired urologist’s ‘I’m Old, not Stupid’ cyber protest quickly garnered more than 600,000 signatures, and perhaps more importantly, gained widespread media coverage in Spain and abroad. Spain’s economic ministry then invited Dr de Laordon to attend the signing of a pact with the country’s main banks to do more for elderly customers who help keep them solvent. Here in the UK, author and broadcaster…

  • Pollutants from Deepwater Horizon oil spill detectable 10 years on

    Pollutants from Deepwater Horizon oil spill detectable 10 years on

    Once released into the environment, crude oil typically undergoes chemical reactions in the environment that transform it into different chemicals which can impact local ecosystems. The new study from Louisiana State University (LSU) researchers found that the oil spilled during the accident was largely transformed by the end of that summer, but some small quantities of chemical residues still persisted in the environment even ten years later. “The better we understand the chemicals and their chemical reactive properties as well as their physical properties, the better we will be able to mitigate oil spills and understand and detect environmental damages from oil spills,” said first author Professor Edward Overton from LSU. “Our paper describes the most abundant chemicals that make up…

  • Tiny robot helps discover learning process of ants

    Tiny robot helps discover learning process of ants

    Rock ants have been found to use one-to-one tuition to teach other ants the location of a new nest and the route to get there. Key to this process of teaching is tandem running where one ant literally leads another ant quite slowly along a route to the new nest. The pupil ant learns the route sufficiently well that it can find its own way back home and then lead a tandem-run with another ant to the new nest, and so on. Professor Nigel Franks of Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences said: “Teaching is so important in our own lives that we spend a great deal of time either instructing others or being taught ourselves. “This should cause us to wonder whether teaching actually occurs among non-human animals. And, in fact, the first case in which teaching was demonstrated rigorously in any…

  • The measure of: Padma Multipurpose Bridge, Bangladesh

    The measure of: Padma Multipurpose Bridge, Bangladesh

    Ushering in a new era for connecting the country of Bangladesh, the nation’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the Padma Multipurpose Bridge on 25 June. It is a multipurpose rail-road bridge over the Padma river, the downstream part of the Ganges after it enters Bangladesh territory. The bridge is the longest in the country and aims to reduce the distance between the capital city of Dhaka to the Mongla seaport, which is important for regional and international trade. The Benapole land port and Payra seaport will also benefit from the construction of the bridge. Image credit: Cover Images They also deemed it as one of the most innovative yet most challenging developmental projects in the country’s history. “The completion of the Padma Bridge is a dream come…

  • Port of Felixstowe explores green hydrogen production

    Port of Felixstowe explores green hydrogen production

    The multi-hundred-megawatt facility could deliver up to 40 tonnes of hydrogen per day, which the companies say has the potential to decarbonise industry and transport in eastern England. The hydrogen – produced from water using electricity from renewable sources – would be used for onshore purposes, such as road, rail, and industrial use, with the potential to create liquid forms, such as green ammonia or e-methanol. This could, in turn, provide clean fuels for shipping and aviation, and create opportunities for cost-effective export to international markets. The project aims to continue engineering and site development works to align with customer demand from 2025 onwards. ScottishPower says ‘homemade’ green hydrogen has clear benefits for the security of UK energy supply and is a safe…

  • Hands-on review: STM MagPod iPhone tripod

    Hands-on review: STM MagPod iPhone tripod

    We previously reviewed the 'Myth' backpack from STM  ('Smarter Than Most'). Now, taking something of a left-turn away from bags and laptop cases, the Australian company has launched its MagPod MagSafe-compatible iPhone stand and tripod in the UK, following its initial launch in the US and Canada. Designed to be the 'smarter phone stand', the MagPod is around 15cm tall with its legs folded in. These legs open smoothly to form a tripod whilst keeping your iPhone at a comfortable viewing angle - adjustable to suit any occasion - and held firmly in place with magnets.   STM pitches the MagPod as a handy device for use anywhere at home or to carry with you (it is just about coat pocket-sized) and keep your phone hygienically elevated above the inevitable detritus of modern society (think coffee…

    E&T Magazine
  • View from Brussels: Germany’s good intentions turn sour

    View from Brussels: Germany’s good intentions turn sour

    The German industrial powerhouse’s unhealthy dependence on Russian fossil fuel imports is by this point extremely well documented. Berlin has lobbied against plans to curb gas shipments and helped write big loopholes into an oil embargo. Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea is now permanently mothballed and its predecessor – Nord Stream 1 – is only operating at a fraction of its capacity due to what Moscow insists are maintenance issues. Efforts to refill gas storage facilities before the winter heating season arrives are ongoing and may yet pay off, while Chancellor Olaf Scholz is doing his utmost to provide Russia with the spare parts it needs to repair the pipeline. Nevertheless, the situation is tense and Germany is ultimately fully exposed to the whims of the…

  • Fire warning for UK as heatwave builds in tinder-dry conditions

    Fire warning for UK as heatwave builds in tinder-dry conditions

    Temperatures are set to rise to the mid 30°Cs in parts of southern England as high pressure brings more hot, dry weather, following months of low rainfall which have left the country facing the spectre of drought. The conditions have left the countryside, as well as urban parks and gardens, extremely dry, raising the risk of more devastating wildfires, with rivers, groundwater and reservoirs at low levels. Two water companies have already announced hosepipe bans and others have warned they may need to follow suit, with apparently no immediate let-up in the dry, hot weather for southern parts of the country. Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is urging people not to light barbecues or bonfires, or let off fireworks or sky lanterns, after a large fire which damaged gardens, sheds and…

  • Re-introduced EU roaming charges could see consumers facing unexpected costs

    Re-introduced EU roaming charges could see consumers facing unexpected costs

    The EU banned roaming fees in 2017 for all its member countries as part of an overhaul of Europe’s telecoms market that was designed to boost growth and innovation. However, soon after leaving the EU, most of the UK’s networks reintroduced roaming charges as they were no longer beholden to the established rules. In a new report, MoneySavingExpert.com found that, post-Brexit, mobile users had been left with weaker rights and many with higher costs. It found that mobile providers no longer need to warn users of roaming costs, provide a monthly cap on roaming fees, or offer protections against inadvertent roaming. In addition, the report showed that while three of the four major mobile networks now charge for roaming in the EU, different providers use different definitions of a ‘day’ of…

  • Avanti West Coast slashes timetable due to ‘unofficial strike’

    Avanti West Coast slashes timetable due to ‘unofficial strike’

    Avanti West Coast said it will run as few as four trains per hour from Sunday in an attempt to halt the short-notice cancellations which have plagued its operations in recent weeks. The rail firm normally operates up to seven per hour on the West Coast Main Line. Services between London Euston and Manchester appear to be the worst affected by the cut, with train frequencies reduced from three per hour to just one. The limited timetable will be in place “until further notice”, Avanti West Coast said. The company has also suspended ticket sales for travel from Sunday until September 11 while the new schedule is finalised to minimise the number of people disrupted. It expects tickets for the first week of that period to be back on sale by the end of this week. Tickets for the following weeks…

  • Could you live off the grid?

    Could you live off the grid?

    Thick mud, dark days and dodgy showers haven’t dented the allure of living off the grid for Rachael and her young family. Today’s soaring energy costs and wider price rises make the idea of self-sufficiency even more appealing for a growing number of ‘off-gridders’ – people who choose to live without connection to the national grid and other utilities, and without the bills. Rachael and her husband Fraser grow their own food, keep bees, and harvest solar energy to keep their home running. Her children – both under two – have 4.5 acres of woodland to play in, and feast on homegrown greengages, blackberries and sweet chestnuts. Two dogs add extra security to their fenced-in plot – if it’s gloomy in the winter, summer days on their wooded South Lincolnshire land are glorious. “A day of rain…

  • 3D-printing method for food could make insect protein mainstream

    3D-printing method for food could make insect protein mainstream

    As the demand for protein-rich food grows, concerns have been raised about the increasing greenhouse gases, land and water consumption associated with its production – especially when it comes to animal rearing. Alternative sources of proteins from insects, plants and algae are much more sustainable while still being nutrient-rich food, although they remain off-putting to many people. “The appearance and taste of such alternative proteins can be disconcerting for many. This is where the versatility of 3D food printing (3DFP) rises to the challenge, as it can transform the way in which food is presented and overcome the inertia of consumer inhibitions,” explained Prof Chua Chee Kai, co-author from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). The new process can take commonly…

  • Scratches to car paint disappear with self-healing coating material

    Scratches to car paint disappear with self-healing coating material

    Excellent durability of automotive coatings is the most important issue in protecting a vehicle surface. In addition, protective coating materials should be colourless and transparent so that the original colour of the product can be seen. However, it is difficult to provide a self-healing function while satisfying all of these conditions. Materials with free molecular movement have high self-healing efficiency, but have low durability, whereas materials with high hardness and excellent durability have remarkably poor self-healing performance. A research team of Dr. Jin Chul Kim, Dr. Young il Park and Dr. Ji-Eun Jeong, from the Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology (KRICT), has developed a transparent coating material that satisfies all of the above conditions and has similar performance…

  • View from Washington: Big Tech goes home

    View from Washington: Big Tech goes home

    Is the party over? Probably not, but it is cooling down. Technology has driven real growth for decades. It has stood apart from the risks in financialisation – simply shuffling dollars, euros, and pounds around to fund the designer goods market (well, apart from Patagonia). Innovation has fuelled new products and services, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, and boosting GDP. It has remodelled how we live. Even tech’s titans are suffering, with companies as big as Amazon, Apple, Alphabet and Meta said to be freezing or slowing hiring – or in some cases, laying off staff. With consumers facing inflation and wider worries across all industries, advertisers are rethinking their spending, which is especially unwelcome news for the likes of Google and Facebook. The threat of an impending…

  • Engineering Extravaganza events - Yorkshire Region.

    Engineering Extravaganza events - Yorkshire Region.

    This event, now in its eighth year here in South Yorkshire, was delivered again on the 11th July at the Sheffield Hallam University and for the first time on the 7th July at the University of Hull covering the East Yorkshire region. The South Yorkshire event was a 'sell.out' in terms of a full capacity of schools attending with 163 schoolchildren taking part. The East Yorkshire event had 5 schools attending with around 60 schoolchildren taking part. We were delighted to have the East Yorks event for the first time at the University of Hull who were keen to accommodate this event and their help with facilitation, excellent. I've attached a interesting write up created by DEBP our STEM Hub, which identifies the scope of the event, the range of contributors and their respective activities…

  • View from India: India to develop domestic carbon market to fight climate change

    View from India: India to develop domestic carbon market to fight climate change

    The Bill, recently cleared by the Union Cabinet, is expected to facilitate the state electricity regulatory commissions to go ahead with tariff revisions on a timely basis. By way of explanation, amendments to the Energy Conservation Act, 2001 have been tabled at the Lok Sabha recently. Lok Sabha, constitutionally the House of the People, is the lower house of India's bicameral Parliament; with the upper house being the Rajya Sabha, constitutionally the Council of States. The Energy Conservation Act, 2001 was enacted for efficient use of energy and its conservation and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The Act has enabled the establishment and incorporation of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) and has conferred certain powers upon the Central Government, the State…

    E&T Magazine
  • Wearables more cost-effective than ECGs for AF screening, study finds

    Wearables more cost-effective than ECGs for AF screening, study finds

    The study from a team at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in the US reported that the use of contemporary wrist-worn wearables was also associated with a reduction in stroke incidence and could help to detect less frequent AF episodes through its ability to monitor for potentially irregular heart rhythm on a near-continuous basis. “The proliferation of wrist-worn devices for AF detection provides a convenient option for population-wide screening, though it’s not known if their use will lead to increased costs and problems related to follow-up testing and false positives,” said Jagpreet Chhatwal, director of the MGH Institute for Technology Assessment. “We, therefore, simulated a virtual trial comparing clinical and cost outcomes under different AF screening strategies, and showed that…

  • Dear Evil Engineer: Could I launch satellites, and a new career, with the help of a space cannon?

    Dear Evil Engineer: Could I launch satellites, and a new career, with the help of a space cannon?

    Dear Evil Engineer, Having spent 15 years working my way into the petty ranks of the millionaires with my dodgy data analytics company, I am keen to move on to the next stage in my career. I aspire to become a fashionable oligarch making a splash in the commercial space sector, which is where all the other oligarchs seem to be having the most fun. I’m interested in providing an alternative to commercial rocket launch services: to launch satellites into orbit using a cannon large enough to double up as an execution device. Is this a promising path to a lucrative Nasa contract and invitation to the Met Gala? Yours, An entrepreneurial villain   Dear villain, If you can offer a convincing alternative to rocket launches for propelling satellites into orbit and beyond, you may well have…

    E&T Magazine
  • Interview: Bhavina Bharkhada, Head of Policy and Campaigns, Make UK

    Interview: Bhavina Bharkhada, Head of Policy and Campaigns, Make UK

    “Despite manufacturers today facing quite unprecedented economic challenges, most businesses have moved decarbonisation to the top of their company’s agenda. The fact that 80 per cent are saying that this is a priority within their business, demonstrates the need to lead in this.” Head of Policy and Campaigns at Make UK, Bhavina Bharkhada, further explains that half of the companies she refers to are already implementing their decarbonisation plan. These are just two of the top-line findings to come out of Make UK’s most recent research survey document, ‘Decarbonising Manufacturing: Challenges and Opportunities’. Published in partnership with Siemens, the new white paper provides a snapshot of how British manufacturers are moving towards net zero and decarbonising their businesses as the…

  • South Korea launches lunar orbiter as domestic space programme heats up

    South Korea launches lunar orbiter as domestic space programme heats up

    The orbiter, named Danuri – 'enjoy the Moon' in Korean – was launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida atop a SpaceX rocket (pictured above in another launch). It will enter the Moon’s orbit in December. Korea’s vice science minister Oh Tae-seog said that initial analysis suggested that Danuri was “operating normally” after the launch. The 678kg orbiter was created by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), and has six payloads including Korean-made equipment. One piece of equipment will investigate the lunar surface to identify potential landing sites for future missions, while another will evaluate disruption-tolerant, network-based space communications, and will be an early foray into a wireless internet environment that can link satellites or exploration spacecraft.  “This…

  • Mass tree-planting programme launched as part of efforts to tackle climate change

    Mass tree-planting programme launched as part of efforts to tackle climate change

    The areas will help the UK adapt to a warmer world, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) said, as well as natural hazards such as wildfires and storms. The woodlands could also help to reduce flood risk in vulnerable areas while providing sustainable UK-grown timber. England’s 13 Community Forests, including the Humber and Mersey Forests as well as partners including the Northern Forest and Great Northumberland Forest, are all set to benefit from the funding. Defra estimates that the planting announced today will see 600,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide absorbed by 2050, valued at nearly £100m, as well as create jobs in the forestry and environmental sectors. “As well as tackling the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss, this significant funding will create…

  • View from Brussels: International Rescue, EU-style

    View from Brussels: International Rescue, EU-style

    Record temperatures and devastating wildfires have swept across Europe these past weeks, while Russia’s war on Ukraine continues to be felt far beyond the battlefields. Everyone is feeling the heat, either literally or figuratively, with few exceptions. It is often said that the European Union only grows in stature and geopolitical power during times of crises, because its constituent parts are normally unwilling to reform or dig deep into their pockets when the sun is shining. The coronavirus pandemic was a prime example of this. Before Covid-19 brought large swathes of the global economy to a standstill, the prospect of the 27 EU members borrowing billions of euros through joint debt was totally unthinkable. Now it is established practice. The executive branch of the bloc, the EU Commission…

    E&T Magazine
  • Digital intervention could help reduce alcohol intake

    Digital intervention could help reduce alcohol intake

    The study by researchers at Linköping University has shown that a digital support tool on a smartphone can help individuals struggling to reduce their consumption to seek help online through these means. “At the beginning of the study, the participants said it was very important for them to reduce their alcohol consumption. But most said they didn’t know how to do it,” said Marcus Bendtsen, an associate professor at the university. The lead of the study added that those who took part in the study and got access to digital support felt more self-assured about how they could go about actually changing their behaviour. Bendtsen believes that there is too little discussion about concrete methods of creating long-lasting change, warning that messages and communicating the risks of various…