Coronavirus lockdown sees air pollution fall by 50% over Europe

If you live in an urban area, and are breathing easier of late, it may be because levels of nitrogen dioxide emitted largely from vehicle exhausts are down 45-50% when compared with the same period last year. The data confirming this reduction in air pollution come from the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-5P Earth observation […]

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TTP designs new ventilators for coronavirus patients

I am so proud of local technology and product development firm TTP, which has designed a ventilator system for coronavirus patients in NHS hospitals. In the news the ventilator is generally described as a Dyson invention, but that is inaccurate. TTP is based in Melbourn, a South Cambridgeshire village neighbouring Royston, where I live. I […]

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Sodium scooter delivers tellurium for 2d diodes

Nanotechnology at the level of chemical physics doesn’t normally attract popular attention, but a recent paper in Nature Communications is worth highlighting given its implications for the use of two-dimensional materials in electronics. Graphene is the best known 2d material, and much has been said of its wondrous properties in various applications including electronic components. […]

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Nord Stream 2 is a danger to Russia as much as Europe

US Secretary of state Rex Tillerson has in a speech delivered today in Warsaw warned that the planned Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas pipeline between Russia and Germany presents a major threat to European energy security. Tillerson’s concerns are justified, to a smallish degree, but the language is alarmist, and hides the fact that […]

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Capital, politics and techno-ethics – an unwholesome threesome

When political and business leaders pontificate on ethics, as England’s acting prime minister Theresa May has done today in Davos, you should immediately check for your purse. Davos, aka the World Economic Forum, is an annual excuse in mutual backscratching and deal-making among the world’s uber-rich (pun intended) and politicians, democratic or otherwise. The democratic […]

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Fatal parastatal and the collapse of Carillion

For most of my adult life we’ve been fed an ideological line that the state provides nothing of economic value, and all that matters is private enterprise. With Thatcherism and monetarist dogma, the crisis of ownership in 1970s industry made way for deregulation and privatisation of state-owned firms, natural monopolies included. This in turn led […]

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Post-Brexit science to be discussed at parliamentary summit

I see that the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has entered 2018 with a call for a summit focused on science in the UK post-Brexit. Whatever their personal views of Brexit, including whether EU withdrawal will actually happen, the committee members are doing their job, and one hopes that the summit comes up […]

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On the Brussels Brexit breakthrough that isn’t

My reading of the ‘breakthrough’ agreement between the UK and EU is that there is a little progress on the rights of EU27 citizens in Britain following Brexit, and this is welcome. But, when it comes to the detail, England’s lame-duck leader and her Brussels interlocutors are kicking the can down the road. Brexit is […]

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