Sunday, 28 June 2015

BGS Open Day 2015

Really enjoyed a recent visit to the British Geological Survey's Open Day at their HQ in Keyworth, Nottinghamshire.

Here's a few pictures, comments and links from the day...

Loved, loved, loved the "Geology Walk"

The "Geology Walk" is a brilliant idea, and consists of a path inlaid with paving stones from various eras, from the precambrian to the last ice-age. In addition, alongside the path are large boulders from different eras. Numbered metal discs in the path identify the various features. You can find out more about the path here. It is open most days during office hours.

Apparently, the space available to store CO2 in rock formations far exceeds requirements.

Fascinating to learn that rock formations around the UK have ample storage space for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) from the UK's fossil fuel power stations. The issue, it seems, is more about will power and dealing with the increase in electricity costs that will result (which will bring prices close to that of renewables). The researcher at the display said that the UK government was supportive of CCS and was investing heavily in the technology. You can find out more here.

A pressure vessel to study the formation of Methane Hydrates
- important for climate reseach and tsunami prevention

NSB and No3 Son went on one of the various talks that were being held, in this case a tour of the Technical Engineering Workshop. The tour guide (who NSB suspects was the boss of the facility) explained that their task was to support the science being undertaken by the rest of the site. The Workshop does this by advising on whether proposed experimental kit will work (and work safely) and then designing and manufacturing the required equipment. Pressure vessels are a big thing for the workshop as scientists often want to replicate the high pressures and temperatures found deep underground.

Taking the example of the vessel above, which had windows to allow monitoring of the way methane hydrates form, it was explained how initial trails showed that the original acrylic windows reacted with CO2 under high pressures, so the team had to redesign with more inert (and presumable more expensive) sapphire windows.

Sapphire! Cooool!

Looking at different ores - bauxite is the small pink one!

Really interesting to handle some ores (surprised to see that bauxite is a pink colour) and some pure metals (tungsten is very, very, heavy).

Rubbish pic, but this Xbox/Kinetic Sandbox was a big Wow

Imagine making mountains etc in a sandbox - but with the mountains colour coding themselves by height and having contour lines, all in real time. That Japanese dreamworld is available today by combing said sandbox with an Xbox, Kinetic motion controller and a colour projector. Awesome does not even come close.

Check out examples of similar set-ups around the world at the page of Oliver Kreylos, who originally dreamt up, and then developed, the idea.

No3 Son looking at Solar Flares (they were awesome!)

A very nice man let No3 Son and myself look at solar flares!

There was A LOT of other stuff going on, and A LOT of other organisations present. So definitely worth considering a visit next year if you missed out in 2015!

Related Content:
Fee - An autobiography
Talk : From Soil to Supper
Talk : Carbon Capture Technology
Talk : Origin of the Earth's Crust

Saturday, 14 March 2015

The Heartlight Baby Monitor

If a newborn baby stops breathing, speed of response is critical - yet current techniques require the doctor performing resusitation to stop every 30 seconds to check the baby's breathing with a stethoscope, costing time and increasing risks for the child.

To try and eliminate this break in the resusitation effort, medical and engineering experts at the UoN have developed a tiny, hands-free electronic heart rate sensor (HeartLight) that sits on a baby’s head and allows for uninterrupted resuscitation.

The technology was originally developed to monitor miners whilst underground, and it was then realised that it could also be used to help monitor newborn children, especially those who are premature.

You can watch a fascinating short video about Heartlight here.

The initial development was led by Prof Haynes Gill, Crow and Morgan from the Electrical and Electronic Engineering Dept, together with academic neonatologists Dr Don Sharkey from the School of Medicine.

More recently, a joint venture (Heartlight Systems Ltd) has been formed with Derby electronics specialist Tioga to further develop the technology.

An article in University Business quotes Russel Hoyle of Tioga as saying "I firmly believe that the opportunities for HeartLight are huge. With its potential applications in the medical and mining sectors, amongst others, it has tremendous potential for social impact."

The Heartlight Baby Monitor