Its Just Science!

2017: My first year down under (Part 1)

Happy New Year to you, my lovely friends! As an official representative of the future (at the time of writing, NZ is 13 hours ahead of UK/Ireland), all I can say, so far, so good… assuming you ignore the state of world politics, OBVS. Anyway, let’s detour around that particular rabbit hole just for a moment. In case you haven’t already guessed it, this is...


Science-y Christmas Gift Guide

Ho-ho-ho, Merry Chri… Ok, I have to be honest, it’s summer in the Southern Hemisphere, which means I’m not feeling particularly festive. This will be my second NZ Christmas, and I’ve had an excellent first year of living here, but I’m still struggling to get my head around the warm, BBQ-filled, antipodean version of the festive season. So, to help me...


The Art and Science of Making Materials

UCL’s Professor Mark Miodownik is a materials engineer, broadcaster and writer, and recipient of this year’s Michael Faraday Medal from The Royal Society. We talked to him about his career, the multidisciplinary Institute of Making, and his lifelong love of materials. Institute of Making’s Festival of Stuff (taken from Twitter) Your role at UCL is...


SciFoo 2017

If you’re a science-y person with a public profile, you tend to get a lot of email invites to bogus-sounding conferences, which you promptly (and very wisely) ignore. So when this email popped up in my inbox in May, I gave it a cursory glance, and almost deleted it. I’m very glad I didn’t. SciFoo – also known as Foo Camp – is a gathering that’s...


Controlling light with electric fields

Researchers have discovered a technique for electrically manipulating light via atomically-thin semiconductors. A quick look at today’s electronics marketplace highlights the fact that we’ve never understood more about controlling electrons. Photons, on the other hand, are more challenging. They are electrically-neutral, so they cannot be directly manipulated...


Could dye-sensitised solar cells work in the dark?

Chinese researchers believe they’ve gotten a step closer to producing all-weather photovoltaics by integrating phosphors into solar cells Solar power is playing an ever-greater role in our energy landscape, and its efficiency continues to improve. However, to date, photovoltaic systems can still only produce power when the sun is in the sky. But a group of...


Sticky

Almost exactly three years ago, I signed a document that changed my life – the book deal for Science and the City. It marked the first step on the steepest learning curve I’ve been on to date. 2+ years of researching engineering topics, reading scientific papers and industry reports, visiting labs and construction sites, doing calculations,...


Forbes: March and April 2017

Hi all! If you’re new to this blog / my Twitter account, you might not know that I write about the science of cities for Forbes, usually 3-5 stories each month. Below, you’ll find summaries and links to each of my stories published in March and April 2017, but you can also view my entire portfolio here. MARCH A Volcano Erupts In Auckland…. In...


By Piet Spaans Viridiflavus (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Inspired by fish: Designing a high-performance, flexible armour

A group of Canadian researchers have investigated the optimal design for lightweight armour, using 3D printing and mechanical testing If asked to suggest animals that use armour to protect their soft, squishy innards, you might think of the quills of a porcupine, the thick hide of a rhino, or the hard shell of a tortoise. But there is another class of natural...


Forbes: January and February 2017

Right, (long overdue) Forbes update time! Below are intros and links to each of the stories I wrote for Forbes in January and February 2017. They’re a rather eclectic bunch, so I hope everyone will be able to find something in here especially for them! JANUARY 2017 Reading The Road: How Will Driverless Cars Talk To Pedestrians? It’s amazing how many...