Thursday, 20 November 2014
An Apple 1 computer motherboard last month sold at auction for $905,000. Time to look in that cupboard? IBM have agreed to pay Global Foundries Inc. $1.5bn to take over its semiconductor manufacturing activities. IBM is to focus on fundamental semiconductor research and the development of future cloud, mobile, big data analytics and secure transaction-optimized systems. Using 20,000 Amperes, the high field magnet at HZB in Germany is now consistently producing magnetic fields over 25 Tesla. The system, which has one regular conducting and one superconducting coil connected in series, will be used for neutron scattering experiments.
Congratulations to Shuji Nakamura and co-workers for being awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize for Physics"for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources". Our newsletter editor, John Grange, met with Nakamura several years ago whilst in Japan not long after visiting Leo Esaki at IBM, a previous physics prize winner. He may not manage a hat-trick but it is fun to speculate on who could be candidate number three.
There will be four connected devices for every person on the planet by 2020 according to a new survey from Strategy Analytics. They predict that there will be 33 billion devices connected to the internet by the end of the decade. Currently, there are 12 billion online machines in operation, equating to 1.7 devices per person with the PC making up 10 per cent of this figure. Strategy Analytics say that the mix will continue to move away from both PCs and Smartphones with wearables and smart devices connected to the ‘Internet of Things’ representing the core areas of growth.
Thursday, 9 October 2014
Front End fab equipment spending is projected to increase in 2015 to US$ 42 billion, about 90 percent of all expenditure is for 300 mm lines. IQE plc, WIN Semiconductors Corp. and Nanyang Technological University plan to create a centre of excellence for the development of compound semiconductor technology in Singapore. Scientists at the University of Twente have designed a resonant cavity that serves as a prison for photons. The cavity confines light in all three dimensions in space inside a photonic crystal.
A recent review shows that whilst Americans view scientists as competent, they are apparently not entirely trusted. This may in part be because they are not perceived to be friendly or warm. In particular, those polled seemed wary of researchers seeking grant funding and did not trust scientists pushing persuasive agendas. Instead, the public leans toward impartiality. Credible communications are key and the review authors suggest that the gap can be filled by scientists showing concern for humanity and the environment. Additionally, rather than persuading, scientists may better serve citizens by discussing, teaching and sharing information to convey trustworthy intentions.
Niels Bohr apparently once said that there are some things so serious you have to laugh at them. He died before the Ig Nobel Prizes were devised. Two papers caught my eye this year. The Art Prize was given for a paper examining the relative pain people suffer while looking at an ugly painting, rather than a pretty painting, while being shot [in the hand] by a laser beam. The Arctic Science Prize was awarded for excellent and much needed work on testing how reindeer react to seeing humans who are disguised as polar bears.
Wednesday, 20 August 2014
It was very, very, very wet! The decision was made early in the morning to cut out the climbs of Box Hill and Leith Hill and their potentially dangerous descents under conditions of torrential rain and surface water. This was not well-received by the entrants, at least those club cyclists like us who wanted the challenge. I believe there was about 25mm of rain in a few hours; it was hard to see at times. At some points my shoes were underwater as I pedalled. Our group left the start (at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park) at 07:05 and I finished some 5:15 hours later in front of Buckingham Palace. I had 3 “pit stops” totalling 20 mins and one involuntary stop of 15 mins following a puncture. This seemed to be when the rain was at its worst about half way around the course at a small village called Ripley (not sure I want to go there again!). Knowing the support committed helped keep me going but also I was passing so many other riders. I'm sure they were all thinking, "how come this old guy on a bike with mudguards and a mirror is overtaking me"! There were people all along the course cheering all the riders along and of the 24,000 entrants, around 20,700 completed the course. fundraising page for Epilepsy Research UK is still open. To boost the generous contributions, RTA Instruments is adding £10 for each donation made as part of our Corporate Social Responsibility programme. We look forward to your support.
Friday, 8 August 2014
As mentioned last month, Richard Thomson, is taking part in a 100 mile (160 km) cycle event on 10th August, on closed roads through and around London. He is raising funds for Epilepsy Research UK, a small charity focused specifically on research projects to help understand the causes, treatments and prevention of epilepsy. To boost the generous contributions, RTA Instruments is adding £10 for each donation made as part of our Corporate Social Responsibility programme. We look forward to your support.