This huge tunnel boring machine (12 meters in diameter and 95 meters long) digs subway tunnels without disturbing the buildings above. Up to 350 meters of tunnel can constructed in a week.
Posts about Germany
Teen Solves Puzzle That Has Stumped Mathematicians for 300 Years
The solution devised by Shouryya Ray, 16, makes it possible to calculate exactly the path of a projectile under gravity and subject to air resistance. Shouryya, who lives in Dresden, eastern Germany, came up with the solutions to this and a second mathematical riddle while working on a school project.
Only partial solutions had been discovered up to now, requiring simplified assumptions or calculations by computer. Shouryya’s elegant solutions could contribute to greater precision in fields such as ballistics.
Driving Via Direct Signals from the Brain
Last year we learned of Google’s Self Driving Car, which is actually making great progress in the real world (cool). And a few years ago I wrote about Toyota’s wheelchair you control with your mind. Now Nissan is looking at cars that you drive aided by accessing brain signals.
This idea is a bit scary to me, the self driving car is less so. But it is great to see us pushing the engineering boundaries forward. It is such a shame that the huge economic failures in the USA, Europe and Japan are rightly grabbing much of the attention these days. If we just reduced the waste and corruption in the political and financial systems it would allow us to take more joy is the great time we do for awesome engineering breakthroughs. Still, if we can try to block out those painful economic realities, these types of breakthroughs are really cool.
The webcast shows the work of the Artificial Intelligence Group of the Freie Universität Berlin in Germany (BrainDriver).
And Nissan is collaborating with the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland (EPFL) on a car that uses your brain signals (along with signals the computer gets via its own sensors) to aid in driving.
Top Countries for Science and Math Education: Finland, Hong Kong and Korea
The 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report has been released. The report examines the science of 15 year olds from 57 countries in math, science and reading. The main focus of PISA 2009 was reading. the survey also updated performance assessments in mathematics and science. The emphasis is on mastering processes, understanding concepts and functioning in various contexts within each assessment area. the PISA 2012 survey will return to mathematics as the major assessment area, PISA 2015 will focus on science.
Results for the Science portion (rank – country – mean score)(I am not listing all countries):
- 1 – Finland – 554
- 2 – Hong Kong – 549
- 3 – Japan – 539
- 4 – Korea – 538
- 5 – New Zealand – 532
- 6 – Canada – 529
- 7 – Estonia – 528
- 8 – Australia – 527
- 9 – Netherlands – 522
- 10 – Taiwan – 520
- 11 – Germany – 520
- 14 – United Kingdom – 514
- 21 – USA – 502 (up from 489 and 29th place in 2006)
- OECD average – 501
- 25 – France – 498
- 46 – Mexico – 416
- 49 – Brazil – 405
Results for the math portion (rank – country – mean score)(I am not listing all countries):
Volkswagen Fun Theory: Piano Staircase
Volkswagen built this piano stairway in Stockholm, Sweden as part of their fun theory project, which aims to change people’s behavior for the better through fun. That is a great strategy.
Global Installed Wind Power Now Over 1.5% of Global Electricity Demand
Globally 27,339 MW of capacity were added in 2008, bringing the total to 121,188 MW, a 29% increase. The graph shows the top 10 producers (with the exceptions of Denmark and Portugal) and includes Japan (which is 13th).
In 2007, Europe had for 61% of installed capacity and the USA 18%. At the end of 2008 Europe had 55% of installed capacity, North America 23%, Asia 20%, Australia 1.5%, Latin America .6% and Africa .5%. Country shares of global capacity at the end of 2008: USA 21%, Germany 20%, Spain 14%, China 10%, India 8% (those 5 countries account for 73% of global capacity).
USA capacity grew 50% in 2008, moving it into the global lead for the first time in a decade. China grew 107%, the 3rd year in a row it more than doubled capacity.
Related: Wind Power Provided Over 1% of Global Electricity in 2007 – USA Wind Power Installed Capacity 1981 to 2005 – Wind Power has the Potential to Produce 20% of Electricity by 2030 – Top 12 Manufacturing Countries in 2007
New Family of Antibacterial Agents Discovered
Bacteria continue to gain resistance to commonly used antibiotics. In this week’s JBC, one potential new antibotic has been found in the tiny freshwater animal Hydra.
The protein identified by Joachim Grötzinger, Thomas Bosch and colleagues at the University of Kiel (Germany), hydramacin-1, is unusual (and also clinically valuable) as it shares virtually no similarity with any other known antibacterial proteins except for two antimicrobials found in another ancient animal, the leech.
Hydramacin proved to be extremely effective though; in a series of laboratory experiments, this protein could kill a wide range of both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, including clinically-isolated drug-resistant strains like Klebsiella oxytoca (a common cause of nosocomial infections). Hydramacin works by sticking to the bacterial surface, promoting the clumping of nearby bacteria, then disrupting the bacterial membrane.
Grötzinger and his team also determined the 3-D shape of hydramacin-1, which revealed that it most closely resembled a superfamily of proteins found in scorpion venom; within this large group, they propose that hydramacin and the two leech proteins are members of a newly designated family called the macins.
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2008
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 2008 with one half to Harald zur Hausen for his discovery of “human papilloma viruses causing cervical cancer” and the other half jointly to Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier for their discovery of “human immunodeficiency virus.”
Harald zur Hausen went against current dogma and postulated that oncogenic human papilloma virus (HPV) caused cervical cancer, the second most common cancer among women. He realized that HPV-DNA could exist in a non-productive state in the tumours, and should be detectable by specific searches for viral DNA. He found HPV to be a heterogeneous family of viruses. Only some HPV types cause cancer. His discovery has led to characterization of the natural history of HPV infection, an understanding of mechanisms of HPV-induced carcinogenesis and the development of prophylactic vaccines against HPV acquisition.
Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier discovered human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Virus production was identified in lymphocytes from patients with enlarged lymph nodes in early stages of acquired immunodeficiency, and in blood from patients with late stage disease. They characterized this retrovirus as the first known human lentivirus based on its morphological, biochemical and immunological properties. HIV impaired the immune system because of massive virus replication and cell damage to lymphocytes. The discovery was one prerequisite for the current understanding of the biology of the disease and its antiretroviral treatment.
Wind Power Provided Over 1% of Global Electricity in 2007
Data from World Wind Energy Association, for installed Mega Watts of global wind power capacity in 2007. 19,696 MW of capacity were added in 2007, bringing the total to 93,849 MW. Europe accounts for 61% of installed capacity, Germany accounts for 24% and the USA 18%.
The graph shows the top 10 producers (with the exceptions of Denmark and Portugal) and includes Japan (which is 13th).
Related: USA Wind Power Installed Capacity 1981 to 2005 – Wind Power has the Potential to Produce 20% of Electricity by 2030 – Top 12 Manufacturing Countries in 2007 – Sails for Modern Cargo Ships – MIT’s Energy ‘Manhattan Project’
Symptom of America’s Decline in Particle Physics
Those advances came, in large measure, from the United States. The coming decades may be different.
A third of the scientists working at the LHC hail from outside the 20 states that control CERN. America has contributed 1,000 or so researchers, the largest single contingent from any non-CERN nation.
The U.S. contribution amounts to $500 million—barely 5 percent of the bill. The big bucks have come from the Europeans. Germany is picking up 20 percent of the tab, the British are contributing 17 percent, and the French are giving 14 percent.
The most worrying prospect is that scientists from other countries, who used to flock to the United States to be where the action is, are now heading to Europe instead.
This is a point I have made before. The economic benefits of investing in science are real. The economic benefits of having science and engineering centers of excellence in your country are real. That doesn’t mean you automatically gain economic benefit but it is a huge advantage and opportunity if you act intelligently to make it pay off.
Related: Invest in Science for a Strong Economy – Diplomacy and Science Research – Asia: Rising Stars of Science and Engineering – Brain Drain Benefits to the USA Less Than They Could Be – posts on funding science exploration – posts on basic research – At the Heart of All Matter
Best Research University Rankings – 2008
The annual ranking of research Universities are available from Shanghai’s Jiao Tong University. The methodology values publications and faculty awards which provides a better ranking of research (rather than teaching). Results from the 2008 rankings of Top 500 Universities worldwide, country representation of the top schools:
|location||Top 100||% of World
|% of World GDP||% of top 500|
There is little change in most of the data from last year, which I think is a good sign, it wouldn’t make much sense to have radical shifts over a year in these rankings. Japan lost 2 schools in the top 100, France lost 1. Denmark (Aarhus University) and Australia (University of Sydney) gained 1. Last year there was a tie so there were 101 schools in the top 100.
The most dramatic data I noticed is China’s number of top 500 schools went from 14 to 30, which made me a bit skeptical of what caused that quick change. Looking more closely last year they reported the China top 500 totals as (China 14, China-Taiwan 6 and China-Hong Kong 5). That still gives them an impressive gain of 5 schools.
Singapore has 1 in the 102-151 range. Taiwan has 1 ranked in the 152-200 range, as do Mexico, Korea and Brazil. China has 9 in the 201-302 range (including 3 in Hong Kong). India has 2 in the 303-401 range.