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Monday, October 27, 2008

Link: Limits to Nanoelectronics – Theoretical and Physical Limits-Plasmonics – Economic analogies of limits to growth from the bulk metals industry

The electronics we know in our computers today is, as the name suggests, based on the transfer of information with the help of electrons. Using electrons has allowed us to shrink the size of computer circuits without losing efficacy. At the same time, communication with the help of electrons represents a rather slow means of transmission. To alleviate this problem, light can be used instead of electrons. This is the basis of so-called photonic components. While the transfer speed in photonics is extremely high, the size of the components cannot be shrunk to the same level as ‘ordinary’ electronics.

For a number of years, so-called plasmonic components have proven to be a possible way around the dilemma of electronics and photonics. By combining photonics and electronics, scientists have shown that information can be transferred with the help of so-called plasmons. Plasmons are surface waves, like waves in the ocean, but here consisting of electrons, which can spread at extremely high speeds in metals.

The findings now being presented by the Swedish-American research team show that difficulties arise when the size of such components is reduced to the nanometer level.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

LINK- Ashby Diagrammes, Granta Design, Materials selection software

Great Innovations Here.

Science, Engineering, Software and Design Excellence. Looks fantastic!

The web-zine, “Engineering Live” reports on the renowned work on materials selection and materials selection software by Cambridge Univ, UK Start-up, Granta Design*.

It’s all in the Eng Live title “almost” : "Materials selection software is simpler to use!

Almost as important as the many technical attributes – speed: ease to learn and use, a quick and simple method to specify design objectives; Eco Audit Tool for eco-design; capabilities for cost analysis; further plastic selection options; and extended coverage of medical materials, comprehensive data on the properties of materials combined with powerful graphical software for analysis and selection. Dimensions, cost, strength, CO2 footprint are all there. – AND
in the words of
“Dr Patrick Coulter, chief operating officer at Granta: "CES Selector 2008 responds to two key trends that we see in working with our customers:
-1. The need for practical design tools to enable decision making early in the design process, saving cost and time.
-2.The increasing importance of environmental objectives. Enhancements in these and other areas will increase the impact of CES Selector on key business issues in engineering enterprises."
[Fig RHS above- Plots materials properties in CES EduPack. In this case, Young's Modulus is being plotted against Tensile Strength for the natural materials in the new Bio Materials Database. Such plots offer a simple-to-understand and highly visual representation of materials properties.]

CES Selector enables designers, engineers and materials experts to explore materials and process options and to make and justify rational, auditable selection and substitution decisions.
It is particularly valuable in balancing competing engineering, economic and environmental objectives

A new Eco Audit Tool enables identification of the energy emissions from a product at different phases in its lifecycle, based on the materials and processes used.

If I stop my review here you will certainly suffer as much frustration as I will in not providing a satisfying introduction to this excellent work and materials selection and design tool not to mention the enhanced engineering knowledge and insight it provides students, lecturers and users alike. My full review and LINKS may be found on my Science & Engineering Blog

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sustainability_ The Ultimate Quest-Part IV_ Serendipity_From the Highly Specialised to the Full Catalogue of NAP eBooks

What I did not mention in Parts I,II or III was that,

I ran down Prof. Lasher-Trapp’s reference list from her paper in The Oxford Round Table ORT event and dug up another nugget for readers. This time it’s offered to read freely online by the National Academy of Science (NAS-USA) National Academies Press (NAP) cf NAP-widget in the RH Side bar.

This completes, at least for the time being, of my ORT reviews and sends the reader off at a tangent to the associated NAP book "EVALUATION OF THE NATIONAL AEROSPACE INITIATIVE" on my blog "This-Above-All" obviously...

Committee on the National Aerospace Initiative
Air Force Science and Technology Board
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

Finally to the summit of one Science Educational Tree to the important catalogue of freely available online ebooks:

This-Above-All & more specifically to "This-Above-All_Books_Journals_Tools"

Sustainability_ The Ultimate Quest-Part III_Indictment _ORT Forum on public policy

Professor Ivor van Heerden, Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Deputy Director, LSU's Hurricane Center, presented a provocative analysis of Hurricane Katrina's devastation of New Orleans, at the August 12, to 17, 2007, Oxford Round Table (ORT) held at St. Anne's College in the University of Oxford. The title of his paper was"Global Warming and Sustainable Development: Governing a Crisis.

Professor van Heerden's insights regarding failure of the levees in New Orleans have also been aired lately on NOVA, PBS. Professor van Heerden's paper, The Failure Of The New Orleans Levee System During Hurricane Katrina And Public Policy Needs For The Future was published in the Oxford Round Table Forum on Public Policy, Volume 3, Number 4, 2007, a publication of the Oxford Round Table. Professor van Heerden's new book The Storm has been cited as "gripping" and "compelling" by Publishers Weekly and CNN's Anderson Cooper.

ABSTRACT-excerpt: "
Oxford Round TableHurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana as a moderately fast-moving Category 3 storm. Thereafter 85 percent of Greater New Orleans was flooded, 1600 lives were lost and approximately 500,000 homeless. The hurricane protection system failed catastrophically with over half the levee system damaged or breached reflecting that the best science was not utilized in surge elevation determinations; a major misinterpretation as relates to the usage of surveyors datum's; levee designs did not account for poor soil foundations and/or underseepage; and, miles of levees lacked armoring to protect from waves. Surge elevations were exacerbated by the loss of coastal wetlands which since 1930 exceeds 500,000 ha.
As global warming accelerates, 'smart' planning is needed for many major ports and other coastal communities. Tropical cyclone surge management making full use of natural as well as man-made components needs to be augmented with sustainable development and some retreat from low-lying coastal regions. Retreat from the Louisiana coastal zone is a reality but coastal restoration in the key to the future habitation thereof, along with sustainable surge protection systems. This latter system must be complimented and protected by aggressive coastal wetland and barrier island restoration."

Professor van Heerden provided strong back-up to support his case:
Reviews and summary of The Storm
PBS article about hurricane Katrina and ivh about January 2005
Sciencenow Video
Segment of video from NOVA
Youtube video about hurricane Katrina and Ivor

Sustainability_ The Ultimate Quest-Part II_ MIT "Walks-the-Talk" _ORT Forum on public policy

Professor Jeffrey I. Steinfeld, Department of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT-pdf), presented a [very important] paper titled "Leveraging International Collaborations for Climate and Sustainability Education" at the ORT session titled; Global Warming and Sustainable Development: Governing a Crisis, August 12 to 17, 2007, at St. Anne’s College in the University of Oxford. Professor Steinfeld’s paper was subsequently published with co-author Amanda Graham, also of MIT, under the same title in the Forum on Public Policy.

A shortened abstract of Professor Steinfeld’s and A. Graham’s ORT article is given below:

Abstract –Extract: MIT “Walks-the-Talk” ; quote

"Avoiding dangerous climate change, assuring secure and affordable energy supplies for future generations, and averting geopolitical conflict over scarce energy resources, are among the central challenges of global sustainability. Achieving these goals requires engaging multiple stakeholders having widely differing perceptions of the nature and urgency of the issues involved. A coherent but varied strategy for outreach and education is necessary in order to effectively inform and engage these multiple audiences.In the United States, public attitudes toward climate change and energy security have undergone a remarkable change during the past several years, as a result of economic pressures, perceived alterations to familiar climate patterns, and increasing attention by the media. In the absence of leadership on these issues at the national level, many states, municipalities, industries, and private actors have started taking steps to achieve greenhouse gas reductions and to begin the transition to a sustainable energy system. He describes how MIT “Walk’s-the-Talk”. "

Could there be a lesson for all here?

Further resources from MIT:
Jeff Steinfeld's Biography on MIT Chemistry Department Webpage

Martin Fellowship: Letter from Prof. Steinfeld
"Humankind is currently engaged in an unprecedented, global-scale experiment involving the atmosphere, the oceans, the biosphere--all of the environmental systems on which our well-being depends. The hypothesis being explored in this experiment is whether human society can attain a sustainable relationship with our environment. We do not know what the outcome of this experiment will be--but we do know that if the experiment goes badly, we will not be able to return the sample to the Manufacturer and request a free replacement."

Martin Family Society of Fellows for Sustainability
Foundation & List of Fellows
Laboratory For Environment and Energy:
Energy & Environment the LFEE newsletter

Numerous Publications Freely Available

Sustainability_ The Ultimate Quest-Part I_ The Oxford Round Table (ORT) Forum on Public Policy

This has been a round-about trip which I am sure many of you have encountered in your web searching and blogging activities. I have split the journey into several parts.

My meanders began by a visit to a site which appeared via AdSense publicity on my blog, thanks to The “Oxford Round Table’s (ORT) Forum on Public Policy now celebrating their 20th birthday with an “Round Table” on Environment and Sustainability held between August 10 to August 15 at St. Anne's College, Oxford.

The ORT site also references papers published in the 2007 forum.

Prof. Ruth A. Reck, Univ. of California, Davis, coordinated the 2008 Oxford Round Table session entitled: Sustainability_ The Ultimate Quest. Ruth’s own paper was entitled Setting the Balance for Global Climate Change: Scientific Evidence and the Consequences for Society following her article published the previous year in The Forum on Public Policy, Vol. 4 No. 3, 2007, title: "Climate Change and Sustainable Development."

These meetings are distinctly Interdisciplinary. Scholars representing several disciples from Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States presented papers regarding the world quest for sustainability. They have an equally distinctive “OCDE – Forum” ring to them in both in name and in spirit, may I add.

Cf. Balancing Globalization. The OCDE forum 2006, title ! link via 2 previous posts on this blog:
1. Climate Change 3 part series from FT-Financial Times-"No getting away from it" Follow-up from OCDE Forum 2008?
2. OCDE Forum 2008 : Climate Change, Growth , Stability: Prime Innovation Motivation Conversation 2-4 June 2008?

Although all the papers presented, bar one are limited to subscribers. Arguably not the best way to achieve the global reach required for “The” number one world quest by Round Table participants. However the abstracts provide excellent summaries to the busy government or company executive, ONG, green movement activists, concerned scientists and general public.

Setting the Balance for Global Climate Change: Scientific Evidence and the Consequences for Society by Ruth A. Reck, Prof. of Atmospheric Science, Dept of Land, Air and Water Resources, School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Univ of California.

Abstract excerpt quoted : (full description via ORT.)
"It has become clear to many scientists that the problems of global climate change are the most pressing issues the world faces, far exceeding the concerns of terrorism and the need to promote democracy around the world. In fact the outcomes of these other major concerns may hinge in great part upon our ability to deal with the consequences that changes in climate will have on the world's populations. Because climate has been recognized to be the most serious for the economically challenged peoples it follows that decreasing food availability, decreasing fresh water resources and deterioration of living conditions can but only add to the burdens of those less well off. Regions become politically more unstable the more unstable the weather that they experience. It is a natural consequence. It is within this frame of reference that we embark upon this topic of managing in the face of changing climatic conditions.

In this paper we review the present IPCC Reports, released in 2007, discuss the perilous nature of the current climate situation, and review some of the most recent research findings to support this conclusion. "

The full abstract is available via ORT Forum on Public Policy and from the glimpse above you can easily see that it is well worth the full read.

Note: The Oxford Round Table is a series of interdisciplinary conferences organized and run by an educational organization based in California and at Harris Manchester College in the United Kingdom, which is incorporated as a for-profit corporation in Kentucky,[1] and a not-for-profit corporation in Kentucky,[2] Illinois,[3] and England and Wales.[4] [main LINK]

The full paper title hinted at in the text above is "Clouds in a Warmer Climate: Friend or Foe?"[Pdf] by Sonia Lasher-Trapp. A little gem if I may say so.

For the "too busy executive here is a snip:

"From the most recent, best estimates, clouds
appear to be a “friend” in that they help to cool the earth and offset global warming, but it is yet too early to tell how their assistance may change as the earth‟s climate changes."

Oxford Round Table Forum on public policy

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Forgotten Scientists? -"Should auld acquaintences be forgot and never brought to mind!"

"Should auld acquaintances be forgot
and never brought to mind!"
Here's a cup o'(of) kindness yet
For the "sake o' auld lang syne*""
(For "old time's sake")
Words by R. Burns.
The song is sung pretty near world wide to ring in the New Year.

Rather fitting both for the current "financial" crises, and specifically for my much more eminent colleagues Nobel Prize candidates - "The Nobel Class" most of whom will be forgotten to the general public, sometimes happily for some, sometimes not for others. Age and a rich experience is certainly a great compensation for some members of the "Nobel Class". Also it is only recently about the last ten years or so that breakthroughs in the more applied domains have been acknowledged, by the Nobel Committee, luckily for the general public and the many simply hardworking scientist or scientist turned manager!

This post follows directly and rapidly ("a quickie") following my previous post, yesterday here in "Conversations" cf. also my post this morning in my blog: "The Materials Chemists" on the "Human-Angle" in this years Nobel Prize 2008.

Thanks to internet and the press releases of the major Organisations, R&D Insitutes and Universities etc. I have been able to find the link to the French side in the isolation of HIV (V for virus) taken as an example in my previous post.

Without further ado here is the link in english to Institut Pasteur's role in this progress -LINK.

The important decision to tackle the problem in France dates from around 1982

Willy Rozenbaum, French clinician working at Hôpital Bichat at the time & Prof & Research Director Jean-Claude Chermann have been recently brought to the fore.

I hasten to add that, far from a specialist in these fields: medicine, biochemistry... I must refrain from further comment on the scientific approach. From a human stand point dare I say it, I refrained from donating blood for at least five years from 1986 to 1993.

Of course there are a number of famous cases of scientist being passed by which were certainly in the back-of-my mind (sub-conscience) I have a name on the tip of my tongue but ...

Let's not join the Financial Community and lose sight of realiy.

Cheers & keep fit & healthy.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

NOBEL PRIZE AWARDS -2008 The Father of Invention - Mother of Great Innovation -A sure source for Discussion and Disagreement

No member of the scientific community nor blog on Science based Innovation can ignore the work done by the Nobel Prize Organization. This week and next will see the 2008 Nobel Prize winners. I have included for your keen attention the Nobel Prize Widget to keep us all informed. Feel free to "Innovated by sticking it on your blog or website.

Now why, oh why, you may ask, have I brought up the "Conversation item in the title "A sure source for Discussion and Disagreement". Yes of course it is the title of my Blog and an underlying theme "across the board. More importantly, regular followers of science and scientific news, invention, innovation will have many ideas as to what this may be. For the less involved, including myself, I can easily imagine that there is substantial lobbying, battles in communication, and all manner of strategies and tactics involved, and projects which would benefit greatly from the renown of this most prestigious award (sorry for we contenders in "The Best or Worst Blog Awards contest!)...

More important in my opinion is the fact that so many scientists involved are "Nobel Class" and I wish to propose that the "Class" too should be given the just acknowledgement as it is neither possible nor desirable that "The Olympic Gold Medal in Science - The Nobel Prize" be given to "The Whole Class."

As a pointer or tag: let me just mention a great research start for a budding journalist could be the award of the 2008 Prize for Medicine. Do not get me wrong this is in no way "Bashing the French" with my superior english or something. Quite the contrary, just before writing this I was watching the excellent french daily medical magazine on the French-German joint TV Arte. An illuminating behind the scenes portrait of the role of about 5 professors and researchers associated with the prestigious Institut Pasteur played leading roles. Two are 2008 award winners. The project initiator in France Prof. Rosenbaum, presented his inside knowledge and the fact that his focus on preventive medicine and open communication, in the form of a Newsletter from an Atlanta Medical Institute brought immunodeficiency disease cases in US to his attention. He addressed The Institute Pasteur with the result we know today. The decision appears as I understand him to have been given to one leading but lesser known researcher, the youngster Prof. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi (b.1947) at Pasteur and the extremely well known Prof Montagnier(b. 1932), forced into retirement at 65y, a few years ago, now heading projects in USA. Prof. Rosenbaum paid great tribute also to the excellence of their US colleagues, with an enigmatic expression "perhaps too good."? And again "Pasteur's communication - [communication policy may be the new research winners "drug." -JA]

Now you see too that such a slant completely ignores that half of the Prize went to Harald zur Hausen (b. 1936), of the German Cancer Research Centre Heidelberg, Germany "for his discovery of human papilloma viruses causing cervical cancer"

However the incredible human side of this very high level science remains to be told.

I posted a piece on the search for neutrinos - "The materials science of materials science" Link to my post and poem on Neutrinos in which I mention Clyde Lorrain Cowan, Chemist, WWII-Hero, and Nobel prize winner in Physics whose family encountered difficulty in having their father recognised also as a War Hero highly deserving a place of honour in the US Military Grave Yard in Arlington, Virginia. - now acknowledged.

To support this request for more on the "human angle" I would be pleased to have your comments and information, web links on such subjects. As a metallurgist and materials scienctist physics and chemistry will naturally be my prefered research areas.

Thanks in advance.

ref: Nobel Prize Organisation