World’s First Commercial-Scale Subsea Turbine

Posted on June 30, 2007  Comments (1)

Artist's impression of MCT Seagen pile-mounted twin rotor tidal turbine

Earlier this month, Marine Current Turbines confirmed the installation date for its 1.2MW SeaGen tidal current system in Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough. SeaGen consists of twin axial flow rotors, each of 16m diameter driving a generator via a gearbox much like a hydro-electric turbine or a wind turbine. The twin power units of each system are mounted on wing-like extensions either side of a tubular steel monopile 3m in diameter which is set into a hole drilled into the seabed.

SeaGen is four times as powerful as the world’s previous most powerful turbine, SeaFlow, which Marine Current Turbines has been operating off Lynmouth in Devon since 2003; SeaGen will form the basis for the commercial projects that will follow. SeaGen, which is being assembled at Harland & Wolff in Belfast, will be connected to the local electricity grid and have the capacity to generate clean and predictable power for approximately 1000 homes.

Martin Wright, Managing Director of Marine Current Turbines said: “The new investment partners and the support of our existing shareholders re-affirm the commercial potential for tidal power in the UK and overseas, and recognise our engineering achievements in developing a world-leading technology. With SeaGen set to be deployed in August, we are moving ahead with our plans for a 10MW tidal farm, to be installed within the next three years.”

Each submerged turbines range from 750 to 1500kW per unit (depending on the local flow pattern and peak velocity). And they expect to deploy 10-20 at a time – more can be added for relatively less marginal cost allowing for incremental investment in new capacity. They expect the turbines to have an excess of a 20 year operating life.

We have also added a new energy category to the blog.

Related: full news releaseOcean Power PlantWind PowerWave EnergySurfing a Wave for 12 km

Science Focus in New UK Government

Posted on June 30, 2007  Comments (0)

Science wins champion in shake-up

Mr Brown often warned as Chancellor that Britain needed a strong scientific base to punch above its weight in an increasingly competitive global market. By including innovation and science in the higher education brief for England the new prime minister is throwing his weight behind the sector for the long term. Although Britain’s scientific research is regarded as among the best in the world, the decline in the numbers studying science has sounded alarm bells throughout academia and industry. A string of universities have closed physics or chemistry departments in recent years because of a lack of would-be students.

This has sparked fears that the country’s science and engineering base may not be able to cope with the ever-increasing competition from nations like China and India.

As I have stated numerous times previously I believe those countries that manage to gain (or retain) centers of science and engineering excellent will gain significant economic advantage.

Related: European Innovation ScoreboardPolitical Economy and Science ResearchRanking Universities WorldwideScience Excellence and Economic GrowthWorldwide Science and Engineering Doctoral Degree DataThe Future is Engineering

Singapore Research Fellowship

Posted on June 29, 2007  Comments (3)

Singapore National Research Foundation Research Fellowship (updated link which was broken – why can’t web site stop breaking links?) offers complete freedom and a 3-year research grant of up to US$1.5million, with possible extension for another 3 years for talented scientists and researchers at or under the age of 35 years at the date of application. This is another example of Singapore investing in creating a scientific and engineering community to strengthen their economy.

Related: Global Technology LeadershipSingapore Supporting Science ResearchersSingapore woos top scientists with new labsDiplomacy and Science ResearchScience and Engineering in Global EconomicsAsia: Rising Stars of Science and Engineering

Origins of the Domestic Cat

Posted on June 28, 2007  Comments (3)

DNA traces origin of domestic cat:

The study suggests the progenitors of today’s cats split from their wild counterparts more than 100,000 years ago – much earlier than once thought. At least five female ancestors from the region gave rise to all the domestic cats alive today, scientists believe. DNA evidence suggests that, apart from accidental cross-breeding, European wildcats are not part of the domestic moggy’s family tree. Neither are the Central Asian wildcat, the Southern African wildcat, or the Chinese desert cat.

The earliest archaeological evidence of cat domestication dates back 9,500 years, when cats were thought to have lived alongside humans in settlement sites in Cyprus. However, the new results show the house cat lineage is far older. Ancestors of domestic cats are now thought to have broken away from their wild relatives and started living with humans as early as 130,000 years ago. The researchers focused on DNA in the mitochondria, the power plants of cells which supply energy and have their own genetic material.

Cool. Related: Cat HistoryDNA Offers New Insight Concerning Cat EvolutionMidichloria mitochondrii

Korean Engineering Education

Posted on June 28, 2007  Comments (0)

Different Engineering Education Expectations

The “Engineering Education Innovation Center” of the engineering department at Yonsei University surveyed 350 human resources officials at some 100 small- and medium-sized companies, as well as big companies, including Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction, and Nexon. In the survey, they gave engineering graduates an “F” grade in 13 out of 14 categories. Engineering graduates themselves also said, “Education in college is not useful to our work.”

On the contrary, however, engineering professors gave high marks of 97 out of 100 on their knowledge, and answered positively regarding their teaching skills, which revealed the different views colleges and companies have.

The conflict between what is being taught and what is needed in business is the subject of continuing debate globally.

Related: Innovative Science and Engineering Higher EducationThe World’s Best Research UniversitiesEngineering Schools and Economic DevelopmentEducating Scientists and EngineersEducating Engineering Geeks (MIT webcast)Leah Jamieson on the Future of Engineering EducationEducating the Engineer of 2020 (NAE Report)Global Engineering Education StudyApplied Engineering EducationWhat do Engineers Need To Know?

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Takes Big Open Access Step

Posted on June 27, 2007  Comments (4)

HHMI Announces New Policy for Publication of Research Articles that will require

its scientists to publish their original research articles in scientific journals that allow the articles and supplementary materials to be made freely accessible in a public repository within six months of publication.

Great news. Some, including me, would prefer a shorter time but this is the limit on the slowest time that will be acceptable not a goal. I don’t know but I wouldn’t be surprised if HHMI is the largest source of research funds outside of the federal government in the USA. This is one more sign the tactics of the old school journals are failing.

HHMI and Public Access Publishing policy

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has long viewed the sharing of research materials and tools as a fundamental responsibility of scientific authorship. That principle also extends to ensuring that original, peer-reviewed research publications and supplemental materials are freely accessible within six months of publication

Well put; it is amazing how out of touch with the basic concepts of advancing scientific ideas the old style journals are.

Related: The Future of Scholarly PublicationOpen Access Legislation$600 Million for Basic Biomedical Research from HHMI$60 Million in Grants for Universities from HHMI

Einstein Fellowship for Teachers

Posted on June 27, 2007  Comments (2)

Ruth McDonald selected for Einstein Fellowship program:

“As a middle school science teacher, I love science, but I’m no engineering expert,” said McDonald, who has also taught math, social studies, and language arts during her career. “But I can bring in the experts using technology.” Her innovative use of technology – handhelds, laptops, videoconferencing with engineers and scientists – was among the elements leading to her selection.

The fellowship program offers current public or private elementary and secondary mathematics, technology, and science classroom teachers with “demonstrated excellence in teaching” an opportunity to make an impact in the national public policy arena. Fellowships enhance understanding, communication, and cooperation between legislative and executive branches and the science, mathematics, and technology education community.

McDonald’s 11-month fellowship assignment is with the National Science Foundation. She will receive a stipend for her work from September 2007 through July 2008. “It’s not really a job,” she explained. “It’s a professional growth and development opportunity, with a focus on science, math, and technology. I’m excited about the resources this experience can bring to our district.”

McDonald, who said the district’s willingness to let her take time off to pursue the opportunity “shows how much they value teacher development and achievement,” said she plans to return to LCSD following the fellowship. Until then, she will provide insight into her experience via blogging and videoconferencing, continuing the use of technology that helped land her in Washington D.C. in the first place.

Related: Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship ProgramRuth Mcdonald’s Blogposts on k-12 science educationNSF Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 EducationExcellence in K-12 Mathematics and Science Teaching

More Automotive Engineering Jobs

Posted on June 26, 2007  Comments (2)

I must say I am a bit skeptical but I am hardly an expert in forecasting automobile engineering jobs so maybe it is a good prediction, Study forecasts 300,000 more automotive engineering jobs worldwide by 2015:

According to a study by the Oliver Wyman consultancy group published in yesterday’s Die Welt newspaper, Car Innovation 2015, nearly 300,000 R&D engineering jobs will be created across the global automotive industry over the next eight years, bringing the total of such jobs to 1.1m, from the 813,000 in 2005.

Most of the new jobs will be with automotive suppliers, to whom assemblers are conferring more and more R&D responsibility, and the jobs will be concentrated in China, India, Eastern Europe and South Korea

Related: Engineers in the WorkplaceChanging Career Needs for EngineersEngineering Gap? Fact and FictionLucrative college degreesEngineering Job Sites

Computer Game and Real World Education

Posted on June 26, 2007  Comments (0)

Planning ahead: UW game teaches kids, mixes virtual, real worlds

14 middle schoolers have been participating in “Urban Science” and working in a computer lab at Wendt Library on the UW’s engineering campus. They spend their summer mornings immersed for four weeks in a highly sophisticated computer game that takes them deep into a world where the lines between fantasy and reality are deliberately blurry.

The students work for a fictitious firm called Urban Design Associates, are assigned the title of planner, carry business cards and do field research in actual neighborhoods, armed with digital cameras and notebooks, under the guidance of graduate students in the educational psychology department. As part of the game, the grad students are known as planning consultants.

I like the real world and technology interaction for education. I believe getting kids involved with real world problems is a good way to get them interested in learning.

Related: Engineering Activities: for 9 to 12 Year OldsInspiring a New Generation of InventorsGetting Students Hooked on Engineering


Posted on June 26, 2007  Comments (0)

Sean B. Carroll discusses the science of evolution and the field of evo-devo in this New York Times Video. Learn more in this extensive article – From a Few Genes, Life’s Myriad Shapes:

evo-devo is the combined study of evolution and development, the process by which a nubbin of a fertilized egg transforms into a full-fledged adult. And what these scientists are finding is that development, a process that has for more than half a century been largely ignored in the study of evolution, appears to have been one of the major forces shaping the history of life on earth.

For starters, evo-devo researchers are finding that the evolution of complex new forms, rather than requiring many new mutations or many new genes as had long been thought, can instead be accomplished by a much simpler process requiring no more than tweaks to already existing genes and developmental plans. Stranger still, researchers are finding that the genes that can be tweaked to create new shapes and body parts are surprisingly few. The same DNA sequences are turning out to be the spark inciting one evolutionary flowering after another. “Do these discoveries blow people’s minds? Yes,” said Dr. Sean B. Carroll, biologist at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

via: Justin Hunter (Justin and me in Madison) 🙂 Related: Opossum Genome Shows ‘Junk’ DNA is Not Junkscience webcast directoryLearning About the Human GenomeCurious Cat Science and Engineering Search

Robotarium X – Robot Zoo

Posted on June 25, 2007  Comments (0)

Robotarium X, the worlds first zoo for artificial life, has opened in Alverca, Portugal.

The robots are all original, created specifically for the project, representing 14 species classified by distinct behavior strategies and body morphologies. Obstacle avoidance, movement or sunlight detection and interaction with the public are some of the robots skills.

Robotarium X, the first zoo for artificial life, approaches robots very much in the way as we are used to look at natural life. We, humans, enjoy watching and studying other life forms behavior and, sadly, also to capture them. However, in this case, although the robots are confined to a cage it can be said that, not like animals, they enjoy it. In fact the Robotarium is their ideal environment with plenty of sun, smoothness, tranquility and attention. There are no fights or aggression and the only competition is to assure a place under the sunlight.

Ok, I must admit the “zoo” seems to be a bit small and primitive but imagine what similar, more advanced, exhibits we will likely see in the future. The robots really look like sushi don’t they? via: The World’s First Robot Zoo