The Anonymous Widower

Smartphone-Based Testing Device Cuts Time And Cost Of Diagnostics

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on The Engineer.

This is the sub-title of the article.

An inexpensive and sensitive smartphone-based testing device for viral and bacterial pathogens could reduce the pressure on testing laboratories during a pandemic.

These are a few important points from the article.

  • The device has been developed by researchers and engineers at the University of Illinois.
  • They are aiming for a $50 price.
  • They started looking for a solution to look for viral and biological pathogens in horses.
  • Tests work with a nasal or blood sample.
  • Tests take about half-an-hour.

If this device can be productionised, so that millions can be turned out for their target price, this will be a major weapon in the fight against COVID-19.

Apparently, there is a great advantage of using horses in the trials of the device. The horse pathogens are harmless to humans, so it lowers the risk to researchers.

 

April 28, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , , | 1 Comment

Climate Change: ‘Bath Sponge’ Breakthrough Could Boost Cleaner Cars

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the introductory paragraph.

A new material developed, by scientists could give a significant boost to a new generation of hydrogen-powered cars.

The article is a must read and the development could make it a lot easy to store hydrogen in vehicles.

The problem is that hydrogen is extremely light and the article says this about storage.

In normal atmospheric pressure, to carry 1kg of hydrogen which might power your car for over 100km, you’d need a tank capable of holding around 11,000 litres.

That is rather large. This extract from the article describes the solution.

To get around this problem, the gas is stored at high pressure, around 700 bar, so cars can carry 4-5kg of the gas and travel up to 500km before refilling.

That level of pressure is around 300 times greater than in a car’s tyres, and necessitates specially made tanks, all of which add to the cost of the vehicles.

Now researchers believe they have developed an alternative method that would allow the storage of high volumes of hydrogen under much lower pressure.

The team have designed a highly porous new material, described as a metal-organic framework.

As ITM Power’s hydrogen filling stations can provide hydrogen at up to 350-700 bar, I’m sure that there could be a useful coming together, that will make hydrogen-powered vehicles more common.

Could for instance, the new material mean, that hydrogen becomes the fuel of choice for heavy trucks and railway locomotives?

April 19, 2020 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Aerodynamic Research Facilities Enhanced

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

This is the introductory paragraph.

The University of Birmingham’s Transient Aerodynamic Investigation facility at Derby’s Rail Technology Centre business park has reopened following a £1·5m renovation.

It is certainly the start of a must-read article.

It is interesting, that Bombardier have been a user of the facility. As I have said before, the Aventra seems to have good aerodynamics, so was this facilty used to improve them?

March 16, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Past Is Worrying Me!

It must have been in the early 1970s, when I was acting as a mathematical-modelling consultant.

I was asked to do some modelling by a major drug company of the propagation of a virus through the UK population.

Their aim was to show how serious these pandemics could be and they wanted to get substantial grants from the Government to fund various lines of research.

With their data and the model I built, we were able to show how a dangerous pandemic could evolve.

But I never found out how successful they were in obtaining the money needed to start the research!

It does look like this pandemic could be the one that researchers at the company were predicting nearly fifty years ago.

March 13, 2020 Posted by | Computing, Health | , , , | 2 Comments

Rail Research At Birmingham University

In Issue 898 of Rail Magazine, there is an article entitled Full Steam Ahead, which discusses the the work at the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research an Education (BCRRE).

Amongst many subjects three are mentioned where I have a big interest.

Aerodynamics

The article says this.

Aerodynamics is also an important area for research, as any reduction in drag and air resistance due to structures will improve the energy efficiency of rail vehicles.

I very much agree with this approach.

I also feel that due to their low noise profiles as they pass by, that Bombardier have applied aerodynamic knowledge, perhaps from their aircraft engineers, to the design of the new Aventra.

Hydrogen Supplies For Hydrogen-Powered Trains

The article says this.

Funding has also been secured from Innovate UK to create a company that can provide the necessary infrastructure needed to support hydrogen trains, including fuelling stations and hydrogen generation facilities.

This sounds very similar to the systems that ITM Power ae deploying for Shell to fuel hydrogen buses, cars and other vehicles.

I hope that there is not too much duplication going on.

Working With Michigan State University And Stadler To Bring Hydrogen Trains To California

Co-operation is always good and especially in rail projects, where the number of trains involved is fairly small.

A Quote From Dr. Stuart Hillmansen of BCRRE

This quote is in the article.

Is is possible to completely decarbonise, by using electrolysis that is powered using renewable energy to create the fuel.

I completely agree with that!

Conclusion

I would hope that the BCRRE develops into a one step shop for the solution of rail related problems.

It does seem that by putting various areas of expertise together, they could be a go-to institution for those that want to built a hydrogen-powered rail service.

February 16, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Are Liverpool Good At Transfers?

This question was asked on BBC Radio 5, about Liverpool Football Club.

As an alumni, I raise money for cancer research at Liverpool University.

I get the impression, the University has no problem getting the best researchers to come to the Second City of England!

Everybody in the World has heard of Liverpool!

February 16, 2020 Posted by | Sport, World | , , , , | Leave a comment

AI ‘Outperforms’ Doctors Diagnosing Breast Cancer

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Artificial intelligence is more accurate than doctors in diagnosing breast cancer from mammograms, a study in the journal Nature suggests.

An international team, including researchers from Google Health and Imperial College London, designed and trained a computer model on X-ray images from nearly 29,000 women.

I have rarely worked with healthcare data, so I can’t comment on the accuracy of this trial.

However, over fifty years ago, I was able to make a lot of progress in the analysis of mass spectrometry data, by observing operators and asking how they identified various chemicals in the scan from the mass spectrometer.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find some detailed observation of the working methods of radiologists, formed the foundation data for this research.

The research seems to have done it well, judging by the published results.

Should we trust ourselves to methods like this in healthcare?

Undoubtedly! Yes!

Many systems like this are starting to be used in the maintenance of complex entities, as diverse as trains, planes, chemical works and advanced automated distribution depots.

But every fault, is always tested by a trained person.

This is a paragraph from the BBC article.

Prof Ara Darzi, report co-author and director of the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Imperial Centre, told the BBC: “This went far beyond my expectations. It will have a significant impact on improving the quality of reporting, and also free up radiologists to do even more important things.”

I very much feel we will see very much more of this automated testing of the human body! And not just for cancer!

I already know of groups working on automatic diagnosis of arthritis!

 

January 2, 2020 Posted by | Computing, Health | , , , | 1 Comment

MSU Research Leads To North America’s First Commercial Hydrogen-Powered Train

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in Railway Age.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Research from Michigan State University’s Center for Railway Research and Education (CRRE) contributed to the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority’s (SBCTA) decision to order the first commercial hydrogen-powered train for use in North America.

These statements were also made.

  • The research was conducted in partnership with the Birmingham CRRE and Mott MacDonald.
  • Funding was from the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA).
  • The trains will be built by Stadler, probably in their US factory.

There is also a picture of the hydrogen-powered Flirt in the article, and it is very similar in formation to a Class 755 train, with a PowerPack in the middle.

The picture shows a Class 755 train at Norwich station.

The article indicates that hydrogen-power was chosen, as the rail line may be extended by sixty miles to Los Angeles.

Conclusion

After reading the full article, it certainly looks like San Bernardino County Transportation Authority have planned their new railway in a very professional way.

 

 

December 12, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Home-Made Cabbage Soups Could Help Combat Malaria

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in The Times.

The article comes from this page on the Imperial College web site, which is entitled Scientists And Schoolkids Find Family Soups Have Antimalarial Properties.

This is the introduction.

London schoolchildren have found that some of their families’ soup recipes have antimalarial properties, with the help of Imperial scientists.

Researchers from Imperial College London helped the schoolchildren test their family soup broths for activity against the malaria parasite.

There is also this quote from one of the researchers; Professor Jake Baum.

We may have to look beyond the chemistry shelf for new drugs, and natural remedies shouldn’t be off our watch list, as artemisinin shows.

I also wonder, if natural remedies of this type, which are generally administered by a trusted relative or friend, come with a degree of care and concern, that is often lacking in healthcare.

We should also remember, that aspirin is not a modern drug, but was known to the ancient Egyptians.

 

November 19, 2019 Posted by | Food, Health | , , | 1 Comment

New Rail Testing Scheme Launched For Small Businesses

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Businesses in the West Midlands are being offered subsidised access to test and trial facilities as a way to boost railway innovation.

The University of Birmingham has joined forces with Quinton Rail Technology Centre (QRTC) to offer access to the UK’s only privately owned and independent outdoor rail testing and trialling site.

There would appear to be one major condition, companies must be signed up to the DIGI-RAIL program at the Uiversity of Birmingham.

I think this concept is an excellent idea, as often finding a way to test a new product, is the most difficult part of the development process.

But why restrict the process to rail developments?

I have had friends in Cambridge, who have been involved in medical developments.

Finding a route to test their product, often means finding an overseas partner, as much of the NHS and its research partners almost have a policy to exclude, ideas that they didn’t think of.

As someone, who helped fund the successful development of a metered-dose inhaler for asthma drugs, I can honestly say, we would have been greatly helped by a far-sighted agency attached to a reputable University.

 

September 25, 2019 Posted by | Health, Transport | , , | 2 Comments