Thursday, 31 May 2012

Job Vacancy - Trainee Admin assistant (Full time)

D.A WOOLGAR LTD A well established electrical company providing service to both public and
 private sectors require a self motivated individual as a

(Full Time)

Must be familiar with MS office packages, QuickBooks/Sage to supplement existing office Staff.

Attitude more important than experience, transport essential due to rural location.

Please email your CV

manipulated research findings

Twenty-five years ago, scientists gathered in a government lab and set fire to chairs, TVs and electrical cables packed with flame retardants. For the next half-hour, they carefully measured how much the chemicals slowed the blaze.

It was one of the largest studies of its kind, and the chemical industry seized upon it, claiming the results showed that flame retardants gave people a 15-fold increase in time to escape fires.

Manufacturers of flame retardants would repeatedly point to this government study as key proof that these toxic chemicals - embedded in many common household items - prevented residential fires and saved lives.
Vytenis Babrauskas, has said industry officials have "grossly distorted" the findings of his research, which was not based on real-world conditions.

The small amounts of flame retardants in typical home furnishings, he said, offer little to no fire protection.
"Industry has used this study in ways that are improper and untruthful,"

The misuse of Babrauskas' work is but one example of how the chemical industry has manipulated scientific findings to promote the widespread use of flame retardants and downplay the health risks

industry has twisted research results, ignored findings that run counter to their aims and passed off biased, industry-funded reports as rigorous science.

resulting in the chemical industry successfully distorted the basic knowledge about toxic chemicals that are used in consumer products and linked to serious health problems, including cancer, developmental problems, neurological deficits and impaired fertility.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Brit Space bods issue a foreboding forecast

A stream of highly charged particles from the sun is headed straight toward Earth, threatening to plunge cities around the world into darkness and bring the global economy screeching to a halt.

This isn’t the premise of the latest doomsday thriller. Massive solar storms have happened before — and another one is likely to occur soon, according to Mike Hapgood, a space weather scientist at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford.

Much of the planet’s electronic equipment, as well as orbiting satellites, have been built to withstand these periodic geomagnetic storms. But the world is still not prepared for a truly damaging solar storm, Hapgood argues in a recent commentary published in the journal Nature.

Hapgood talked with The Times about the potential effects of such a storm and how the world should prepare for it.

What exactly is a solar storm?
I find that’s hard to answer. The term “solar storm” has crept into our usage, but nobody has defined what it means. Whether a “solar storm” is happening on the sun or is referring to the effect on the Earth depends on who’s talking.

I prefer “space weather,” because it focuses our attention on the phenomena in space that travel from the sun to the Earth.

People often talk about solar flares and solar storms in the same breath. What’s the difference?
Solar flares mainly emit X-rays — we also get radio waves from these things, and white light in the brightest of flares. They all travel at the same speed as light, so it takes eight minutes to arrive. There are some effects from flares, such as radio interference from the radio bursts.

But that’s a pretty small-beer thing. The big thing is the geomagnetic storms [on Earth] that affect the power grid, and that’s caused by the coronal mass ejections [from the sun].

Coronal mass ejections are caused when the magnetic field in the sun’s atmosphere gets disrupted and then the plasma, the sun’s hot ionized gas, erupts and send charged particles into space. Think of it like a hurricane — is it headed toward us or not headed toward us? If we’re lucky, it misses us.
How are solar flares and coronal mass ejections related?

There’s an association between flares and coronal mass ejections, but it’s a relationship we don’t quite understand scientifically. Sometimes the CME launches before the flare occurs, and vice versa.
What happens when those particles reach Earth?

There can be a whole range of effects. The classic one everyone quotes is the effect on the power grid. A big geomagnetic storm can essentially put extra electric currents into the grid. If it gets bad enough, you can have a complete failure of the power grid — it happened in Quebec back in 1989. If you’ve got that, then you’ve just got to get it back on again. But you could also damage the transformers, which would make it much harder to get the electric power back.

How else could people be affected?
You get big disturbances in the Earth’s upper atmosphere — what we call the ionosphere — and that could be very disruptive to things like GPS [the network of global positioning system satellites]. Given the extent we use GPS in everyday life [including for cellphone networks, shipping safety and financial transaction records], that’s a big issue.

The storms can also disrupt communications on transoceanic flights. Sometimes when that happens, they will either divert or cancel flights. So that would be the like the disruption we had in Europe from the volcano two years ago, where they had to close down airspace for safety reasons.

What went wrong in the 1989 storm?
In the U.K., there were two damaged transformers that had to be repaired. But no power cuts. The worst thing is what happened in Quebec. In Quebec, the power system went from normal operation to failure in 90 seconds. It affected around 6 million people. The impact was reckoned to be $2 billion Canadian in 1989 prices.

We had lots of disruption to communications to spacecraft operations. The North American Aerospace Defense Command has big radars tracking everything in space, and as they describe it, they lost 1,600 space objects. They found them again, but for a few days they didn’t know where they were.
Is that the biggest geomagnetic storm on record?

We always describe the storm in 1859 as the biggest space weather event. We know there were huge impacts on the telegraph, which suggests there would be similarly severe impacts on modern power grids. It’s hard to compare it to the 1989 event because of the changes in our technology.
Many systems have been built to withstand a storm as big as the 1989 event. Is that good enough?
A serious concern would be whole regions losing electrical power for some significant time. Here in the U.K., the official assessment is that we could lose one or two regions where the power might be out for several months.

What would the consequences be?
In the modern world, we use electricity for so many things. We require electrical power to pump water into people’s houses and to pump the sewage away. [You can imagine] what could happen if the sewage systems aren’t pumping stuff away.
If you don’t have power, you can’t pump fuel into vehicles. If you don’t have any fuel, traffic could come to a standstill.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

is this the best electric car to date????

Some bright sparks at Jaguar have come up an electric car inspired by the iconic E-Type

Car features layers of microscopic ripples that recharge batteries when stimulated by the friction of airflow

at the momnet its only an electronic, but if it gets on the road, I can see a few petrol heads getting rid of their petrol cars... what will they be then??? electric heads?

filled and covered with cutting-edge science which will be driving cars of the future.

The body of the XKX is covered by a layer of so called piezoelectric cells which helps recharge the batteries from the force of the air flowing over the body.
This layers of microscopic ripples are stimulated by the pressure and friction of the wind which increases the faster the car travels.

It is hoped this radical technology will recoup some of the near 60per cent energy lost from forcing the vehicle through the air. combine that with beter batteries and fast charging and you have the beginnings of an every day super car.

Efficiency and performance were a top priority for designer Marin Myftiu, with great attention to aerodynamics.
Large side deflector intakes at the front were created in order to carry more air to the rear of the car, thus cutting drag.
The mirrors also fold into the body work to prevent them from being damaged.
It is unlikely this vehicle will even be put into production, but we like it and elements of the design are expected to be incorporated into Jaguar’s future cars.

Monday, 28 May 2012

So finally it has stopped raining...

and you have found your Aircon in the car doesnt work...

History and Introduction of Vehicle Air Conditioning Systems
Air conditioning systems, or just called 'AIR' in the USA where they were introduced first appeared in luxury automobiles in the early 1940's.  Even as late as the mid 70's air Conditioning was only fitted to luxury and executive saloons.

Today almost all cars, including small family hatch backs come with air conditioning as standard. Yet, the majority of us hardly have an understanding, or even care how it works... That is until the first hot day of the summer comes around and we find ourselves starring under the bonnet in a bewilderment wondering why it is not working and the car is no longer a cool place to be.
Just may be, if we had an understanding or had given some thought to what goes on amongst all the other oily bits, which we take care to have serviced at regular intervals we could possibly have avoided the now unfamiliar experience of being hot and uncomfortable in a car on the drive home.

Basic Working Principles of a Vehicle Air Conditioning System
What we will attempt is to describe, in layman's terms is how the air condition system on a vehicle works and what happens when we press the "A/C" button on the vehicles dashboard.
The basic working principle of all cooling systems, be it the domestic freezer, the Air Conditioning system in our office or the one fitted to our vehicle is the same. The fundamental processes at work are four basic principles in physics, which we all have probably experienced in everyday life Compression, Expansion, Evaporation and Condensation.

When you pump up a bicycle tyre, the body of the pump where the air is compressed above the pressure inside the tyre, causing the transfer of air into the tyre gets hot. As the tyre inflates and more effort is needed to compress the air to an ever higher pressure the pump gets even hotter. The tyre also becomes heated by the now hot gases entering through the valve.

When you discharge an aerosol can the body of the can gets cooler because of the reduced pressure inside the can as the liquid contents are expelled turning to gas.

The old sailors trick to find the wind direction by wetting a finger and feeling which side is chilled by the passing flow of air.

Whenever warm wet air touches a cold surface such as the outside surface of a glass of ice cold beer heat is from the air and transferred to the cold surface reducing its temperature turning the water vapour back to liquid droplets of water.

The air conditioning system in our vehicle has specific components that employ the above physical processes in order to reduce the temperature of the air circulating in the vehicle cabin. In addition to cooling the air the Air Conditioning system have the added benefit of removing excess moisture from the air entering the cabin reducing the amount of condensation that forms on the inside of the cars windows, improving visibility for the driver.

Working Components of a Vehicle Air Conditioning System
Let us now go to the workings of an automobile air conditioner and how the above principles are applied. We will take it component by component.

Compressor: This is the heart of the air conditioning system. The compressor similar in size to the vehicles electrical alternator can usually be identified as the component sited low down in the engine bay driven by the engine belts via a pulley and connected to the rest of the air conditioning system by two reinforced hoses. When you turn on the air conditioner in your car an electrical circuit operates a clutch in the compressors pulley causing the compressor to start pumping refrigerant gas into the rest of the system under extremely high pressure. By increasing the pressure the refrigerant gas leaving the compressor becomes hot.

Condenser: The condenser can be identified as a second radiator that shares the air flow with the main engine coolant radiator. Usually the condenser will have its own electric cooling fan/s that become/s active when the air conditioning system is switched on. The condenser takes the heated high pressure refrigerant gas from the compressor and cools it. Condensing the refrigerant gas into a liquid releases heat in the process. This heat is expelled into the atmosphere by the air flowing through the condenser.

Receiver or Dryer: This can be identified as a small reservoir or canister sitting in in-line with the outlet hose from the condenser.  Here any moisture that has contaminated the refrigerant is captured. If moisture or other contaminants are allowed to circulate it can damage the air conditioning system and ice crystals being formed can cause blockages.

Expansion Valve: The refrigerant next flows into the expansion valve where the pressure is reduced causing the liquid to revert back to a gas which causes rapid cooling of the refrigerant vapour. Often on humid days ice can be seen forming on the pipe work immediately after the Expansion valve.

Evaporator: This component is rarely seen, other than by service engineers as it is buried deep under the dashboard of the vehicle and shares the space occupied by the cabin heating system. Here the highly cooled refrigerant vapour absorbs the heat from the air inside the car by pushing the air from either the outside or re-circulated air from inside the cabin across the outside of the now super chilled evaporator circulating cold air inside the vehicle's cabin..

Why do air condition systems stop working.
Other than physical damage to the system caused by a accident or road debris holing the Condenser the most common cause of failure is a loss of refrigerant due to natural leakage.

Due to the set-up of a vehicle air conditioning system there has to flexible couplings between the components mounted on the body of the vehicle and the Compressor which is typical mounted on, and driven directly by the engine which itself is mounted on the vehicles chassis on flexible mounts. In addition, these connections and flexible couplings have serviceable joints enabling components to be replaced during the vehicles life.

Because of this Vehicle Air Conditioning  systems will tend to lose refrigerant over time as refrigerant permeates through the physical joints between components. In normal working conditions all automotive air conditioning systems will lose about 10% to 15% of refrigerant each year which is considered natural leakage.  Environmental conditions and the how the vehicle operates can increase the amount of refrigerant leakage.

Letting the system run low on refrigerant and consequently the compressor lubricating oil that is suspended in the gas can lead to increased wear and premature component failure.
clever eh!!!

Do you really need to P A Test annually???

Apparently not!!

Unnecessary electrical safety tests cost office-based businesses an estimated £30 million a year.
It's a myth that every portable electrical appliance in the workplace needs to be tested once a year - and what's more it's a costly one.

Misleading advice and advertising, often by companies who offer the testing, is contributing to low-risk businesses such as offices, shops and hotels paying unnecessarily for over-the-top maintenance regimes.
The law simply requires an employer to ensure that electrical equipment is maintained in order to prevent danger - it does not state that every item has to be tested or how often testing needs to be carried out.
Testing appliances to ensure that they are safe to use can contribute to an effective maintenance regime, but in a low-risk environment most dangerous defects can be found simply by checking the appliances for obvious signs of damage such as frayed cables.

Launching HSE's revised guidance on portable appliance testing (PAT), HSE Chair Judith Hackitt said:
"We know that low-risk companies are being mis-led over what the law requires when it comes to maintaining portable electrical appliances, and many are paying for testing that is not needed.
"Businesses are responsible for protecting their employees, but they shouldn't be wasting their money on unnecessary checks that have no real benefit.

"HSE has always advocated a proportionate, risk-based approach to maintenance. This new guidance is simple and clear to follow."

Nick Starling, Director of General Insurance at the Association of British Insurers, said:
"Insurers have never required policyholders to undertake unnecessary portable electrical appliance tests which are not proportionate to the risk.

"We welcome HSE's guidance, which will help businesses focus on what they do best, free from worries about health and safety myths."

1.HSE Guidance: Maintaining portable electrical equipment in low-risk environments[1]
2.For further information on portable appliance testing see HSE's FAQs[2]
3.The revised guidance is in response to Professor Lofstedt's independent report on health and safety legislation which said that the legal requirements concerning maintenance of electrical appliances was "applied too widely and disproportionately", resulting in costly over-compliance with the law. [3]

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Time travel

we know our blog is a bit stuck up...

we found something that tickled us, so hear is the lighter side of D A Woolgar

if you like it, let us know and we will do more of the same...

Lightning may Reveal the Solar System's Origins

Lightning Signature Could Help Reveal the Solar System's Origins

Every second, lightning flashes some 50 times on Earth. Together these discharges coalesce and get stronger, creating electromagnetic waves circling around Earth, to create a beating pulse between the ground and the lower ionosphere, about 60 miles up in the atmosphere. This electromagnetic signature, known as Schumann Resonance, had only been observed from Earth’s surface until, in 2011, scientists discovered they could also detect it using NASA’s Vector Electric Field Instrument (VEFI) aboard the U.S. Air Force’s Communications/Navigation Outage Forecast System (C/NOFS) satellite.

The Astrophysical Journal, - researchers describe how this new technique could be used to study other planets in the solar system as well, and even shed light on how the solar system formed.

“The frequency of Schumann Resonance depends not only on the size of the planet but on what kinds of atoms and molecules exist in the atmosphere because they change the electrical conductivity,” says Fernando Simoes, the first author on this paper and a space scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “So we could use this technique remotely, say from about 600 miles above a planet’s surface, to look at how much water, methane and ammonia is there.”

Taking snaps at the olympics

The organisers seem so organised, but as a keen snapper, where’s the guidance on taking pictures or not as the case may be…

Time to speculate – what we can and can't do at the London 2012 Olympics. The debate has come after a controversial statement was issued last year concerning a complete ban.

Last year a London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) spokesperson told Amateur Photographer: "There will be some events where you will not be able to take your camera in." She added that shooting would be one such event.

Equipment restrictions - Now the company is looking at restricting what equipment can be brought in. A spokesperson for LOCOG said: "Obviously we recognise that spectators will want to bring cameras into the Games. The only restrictions are around size, and these restrictions are to prevent undue impact on other spectators."

The bag should must fit under your seat (but what is the seat design??), and large lenses will not be permitted because they could obstruct the others' views.

Bags could also face an X-ray check before they can be taken into the stadium. There has been some speculation as to whether all security guards will adhere to photography guidelines.
The rule bookAlthough the official guidelines have yet to be released, the terms and conditions online give some indication of the rules to come.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

do we need 'action over windfarms'???

We are yet again we are plagued by dithering ministers and weak civil servants but are they really were risking the lights going out in Britain. will it happen?

To be honest 'No'

Tim Yeo, the chairman of the Commons energy committee, said there could be no further delays on taking vital decisions needed to build windfarms and nuclear stations.

His comments at the UK Energy Summit organised by the Economist in London came amid speculation that a vital piece of industry legislation, the electrical market reform, will not be passed in the forthcoming parliament. - so Tim got his headline, but what is the truth???

we have a weak DECC (the Department of Energy and Climate Change) fighting the big boys in the tresury who dont wanna be green if its going to cost them any money

energy policy is sadly lacking

We (the royal we, or the royals We's government) do need approx £200bn worth of investment needed to upgrade old energy infrastructure. this would also help to meet climate change objectives.

there are still a raft of uncertainties in British energy policy that raised the risk, but looking at it in the cold light of day (sorry for the pun!) current policy uncertainty will trigger a series of short-term decision making that would be less efficient (as governments always are!) that would not help the country longterm but we know the lights are "not going to go out".

its all media hype

despite that we are being ripped off by the Big 6 energy companies who dont even seem to have noticed there is a recesion and increased fuel poverty

so you can ignore the alarmist headlines - gas is a relatively quick and cheap alternative to coal-fired power stations.

offshore wind power was double the cost of gas. A target of trying to decarbonise electricity by 2030 rather than 2050 as originally planned is as they say, a tad optomistic

on the other side of the coin - wildlife charity, WWF, said a recent rise on fuel poverty in the UK was a result of rising gas prices and that the country was already "over-reliant" on the fuel source.

so there you have it, makes sense to reduce the power supply's reliance on carbon-based fuels sooner rather than later. but for now Gas will do as long as the market doesnt run away...

Friday, 25 May 2012

What are using as a Browser???

Our site says 40% of you are using IE, but its going down fast... and firefox is catching up!!!

Internet Explorer        (40%)
Firefox                       (35%)
Chrome                     (17%)
Opera                         (3%)
Safari                          (2%)

what do you think will win???? do you think we will even remember facebook in a decade? or will it still be going strong?

Saving the planet, one appliance at a time

The vast majority of the millions of microwave ovens thrown away every year could be easily fixed and reused, according to University of Manchester research.

Making simple repairs could save the UK could save millions of pounds by replacing fuses or plugs rather than throwing away perfectly reusable microwaves with brand new ones.

Published in the Journal of Cleaner Production, PhD student Azadeh Dindarian and her team examined 189 microwaves at refuse centres and found that 54% of microwaves in a single year appeared to be disposed of simply for cosmetic reasons or because they had minor faults, and that 85% could be safely repaired. They have also found that some simple changes in design could prevent some of these faults from happening altogether.

Finding ways to re-use discarded microwaves could help to prevent thousands of tonnes of waste every year. These devices are often shredded in specialist recycling centres which are not often capable of retrieving valuable materials.

Azadeh, who was shortlisted to present her research at the House of Commons, believes product reuse is essential to reduce current levels of waste and create a more sustainable economy.

Barry Sheerman, MP for Huddersfield and Chairman of policy connect, added: “The excellent and compelling work carried out by the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering is persuasive in demonstrating that many microwaves that are discarded could be reused or remanufactured, saving money, and crucially, natural resources.”

we say - all very well and good, but with Microwave ovens being sold buy on get one free in Tesco for about £50.00 (exaggeration) and most of the public not knowing where to get a microwave repaired means the dumping will continue - thinking of the next stage. local authority 'tips' should have a zone drop your microwave so with a simple check, repair can be assessed and the unit sold at a discount through local social housing associations, battered wives refuges etc...

Is it necessary to verify voltage drop during initial verification?

Verification of voltage drop is not normally required unless there is considered to be a voltage drop problem.

Regulation number(s)

Thursday, 24 May 2012

The Smallest And Thinnest Microconductor (so far!)

A team of researchers from the University of Exeter’s Center for Graphene Science in the UK have invented a new material to conduct electricity. The new material called GraphExeter, is transparent, lightweight and highly flexible and could revolutionize the electronics industry and usher in those much awaited, low cost wearable electronics we all dream about. - ok , you dont dream about them, but they could be well fiunky, just think of the possabilities of wearing you phone, not carrying it... likewise a watch, a radio, MP3 player

This invention is very big news... and is expected to generate around $200 (wild guess) by 2012 in the US alone.

Right now indium tin oxide (ITO) is the key conductive material in the production of touch and LED screens/displays because of its excellent optical transparency and electrical conductivity. Any replacement technology would have to match ITO’s transparency, conductivity and flexibility. Think of what that covers: flat panel displays, organic LEDs, solar cells, liquid crystal displays and electronic inks, cash machine screens.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

How will your car sound????

First there were ringtones; thousands of bits of music which made every cell phone ring unique and distinguishable from every other. Now, in an effort to insure pedestrian safety, nearly soundless electric vehicles from Audi in the R8 e-tron model line will also get their very own signature sound, thanks to a control unit that initiates sounds based on signals from the vehicle and a loudspeaker that transmits the sounds.

Called Audi e-sound, the melodies (?) are created by acoustic engineer Rudolf Halbmeir, whose workstation includes a digital piano instead of a printer, and two very high-end speakers connected to his computer monitor. But Halbmeir isn’t rocking out to the daily grind. He’s developing “car sounds” ranging from low-range frequencies that subconsciously telegraph power and composure, to the middle ranges, which deliver an impression of quickness and speed.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Luminescent 'LED-type' design breaks efficiency record

To produce the maximum amount of energy, solar cells are designed to absorb as much light from the Sun as possible. Now researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, have suggested & demonstrated a counterintuitive concept:  - solar cells should be designed to be more like LEDs, able to emit light as well as absorb it. The Berkeley team will present its findings at the Conference on Lasers and Electro Optics (CLEO: 2012), to be held May 6-11 in San Jose, Calif.

"What we demonstrated is that the better a solar cell is at emitting photons, the higher its voltage and the greater the efficiency it can produce," says Eli Yablonovitch, principal researcher and UC Berkeley professor of electrical engineering.

Since 1961, scientists have known that, under ideal conditions, there is a limit to the amount of electrical energy that can be harvested from sunlight hitting a typical solar cell. This absolute limit is, theoretically, about 33.5 percent. That means that at most 33.5 percent of the energy from incoming photons will be absorbed and converted into useful electrical energy.

For five decades, researchers were unable to come close to achieving this efficiency: as of 2010, the highest anyone had come was just more than 26 percent. (This is for flat-plate, "single junction" solar cells, which absorb light waves above a specific frequency. "Multi-junction" cells, which have multiple layers and absorb multiple frequencies, are able to achieve higher efficiencies.)

More recently, Yablonovitch and his colleagues were trying to understand why there has been such a large gap between the theoretical limit and the limit that researchers have been able to achieve. As they worked, a "coherent picture emerged," says Owen Miller, a graduate student at UC Berkeley and a member of Yablonovitch's group. They came across a relatively simple, if perhaps counterintuitive, solution based on a mathematical connection between absorption and emission of light.

Monday, 21 May 2012

New cyborg technology offers hope for paralysis

New "cyborg" technology has been developed that can bypass the spinal cord and bring signals from the brain directly to the muscles, allowing the movement of paralyzed limbs.

The Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago said the technology, once perfected, could eventually help paralyzed patients.

"eavesdropping on the natural electrical signals from the brain that tell the arm and hand how to move, and sending those signals directly to the muscles,” said lead investigator Lee Miller, who also holds the Edgar C. Stuntz Distinguished Professorship in Neuroscience at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

"this connection from brain to muscles might be used to help patients paralyzed due to spinal cord injury “perform activities of daily living and achieve greater independence.”

there is hope!!!!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

RCD protection and the regs

The 17th Edition requires most if not all circuits in domestic premises to be RCD-protected. There have
been a number of suggestions as to how the consumer unit may best be configured to comply with the
Regulations, the most common being a main switch with RCBOs protecting each individual circuit. However,
another suggestion favours a main switch with two RCDs protecting separate DIN rails. If careful
consideration is given as to what each bar will control in the way of upstairs and downstairs lighting
and power circuits, will this configuration comply?

Yes, as long as the division of final circuits between the RCDs is carefully considered so as to
minimize the consequences of unwanted tripping. Separate RCD protection is not necessarily required for
each circuit of an installation but, in order to minimize the likelihood and consequences of tripping, a
single (‘front end’) RCD should not be used to protect all the circuits.

Regulation number(s)

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Real “Doctor Who Sonic Screwdriver”

All you geeks out there (i include myself in that!!!) get ready for a frenzy.. some slightly freaky scientists in Dundee, are claiming to have invented the world’s first functioning Sonic Screwdriver.

One of the vaguest, yet most powerful objects in the world of sci-fi, the Time Lord’s utensil can do pretty much anything, from repairing electrical equipment to operating alien computers.

Obviously the lab rats up in Scotland haven’t quite managed to create an implement of such power, but their prototype has successfully used ultrasound waves to lift and rotate a rubber disc floating in a cylinder of water.

That may not sound like a big deal, but up until now, ultrasound has only been able to push objects about and physicists performing the research believe their invention is an important breakthrough for medical science.

“Like Doctor Who’s own device, our sonic screwdriver is capable of much more than just spinning things around,” said Dr Mike MacDonald of the Institute for Medical Science and Technology at Dundee.
Surgeons already use ultrasound to treat patients without the need for surgery, but the ability to manipulate objects with greater precision, could open doors for all sorts of more advanced medical treatment.
“This experiment not only confirms a fundamental physics theory but also demonstrates a new level of control over ultrasound beams which can also be applied to non-invasive ultrasound surgery, targeted drug delivery and ultrasonic manipulation of cells,” said Dr MacDonald.

we are reliably informed, they are now working on Psychic paper :)

Friday, 18 May 2012

Kitchen appliance fires 'alarming'

A consumer watchdog has called for Government action following an "alarming" number of fires from faulty kitchen appliances.

A Which? investigation said faults ranging from exploding toasters to smoking kettles were causing thousands of house fires a year and serious damage to homes.

Almost 6,000 appliances or their electrical leads caught fire due to faults in 2010/11, according to figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Freedom of Information requests to fire services across the country revealed that it was not necessarily the obvious appliances, like ovens, that consumers should worry about.

Tumble dryers and washing machines were more likely to catch fire due to faults, with one dishwasher fire causing more than £86,000 worth of damage, the consumer group said.

While some fire brigades already collected data on the makes and models of appliances that have caused fires, this was not a statutory requirement and the information was not readily available to the public, Which? said.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Rural Chinese love Tiny Electric Cars

The tiny electric car that Chen Xianping drives to work over bumpy country roads in Shandong Province says much about the hurdles facing China’s efforts to promote electric vehicles and the big car companies’ efforts to sell them.

It is not a beautiful machine. The Shifeng brand car resembles a plump Fiat Mini with oversized headlights and has a top speed of about 50 kilometers, or 30 miles, an hour.

But Mr. Chen’s little car has a big advantage: it cost only 31,600 renminbi, or about $5,000, far cheaper than the larger e6 made by the Chinese automaker BYD, which costs 369,800 renminbi. And it helps that it is not a real car in the eyes of the government.

“I had considered getting a gasoline car, but you need to have a driver’s license and pay insurance for that,” Mr. Chen said, beaming as he drove his car home from the village school where he is a teacher.

Beijing has made a dismal start toward its ambitious goal of putting 500,000 hybrids and electric vehicles on China’s roads by the end of 2015, rising to more than five million by 2020. Last year, a mere 8,159 were sold across the entire country, including those for government pilot programs for e-taxis and e-buses.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

$100,000 electric car catches fire in the garage

A luxury electric car is claimed to be the source of a fire which engulfed the owner’s new mansion causing hundreds of thousands dollars’ worth of damage.

Jeremy Gutierrez had  parked his brand new Fisker Karma car in his garage - on the ground floor of the property -  just minutes before it allegedly set alight and caused the ensuing house fire in Sugar Land, Texas.  (cool place name)

Although local investigators have ruled that the vehicle started the fire, the car's manufacturers have said that 'fraud or malicious intent' remain possibilities

Robert Baker, Fort Bend County’s chief fire investigator, has said that the car was the origin of the blaze, ruled that the fire was accidental but said the cause of the fire is still unknown.

I wonder who is right.... with the KERS fire in the Williams (F1) garage over the weekend, maybe this is another thing we have to consider??!??!!?!?!?!

U.S. Regulators to Examine Electric-Car Battery Safety

The U.S. auto-safety regulator said it will hold a forum on lithium-ion batteries in electric cars next month, almost a year after a General Motors Co. (GM) Chevrolet Volt caught fire following crash-testing.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced today a meeting May 18 in Washington to convene government officials and auto and battery-industry representatives to talk about “safety considerations” for cars powered by lithium-ion batteries. The meeting was announced in a posting on the Federal Register’s website.

A Volt caught fire in June, three weeks after a crash test at a NHTSA facility in Wisconsin. Disclosure of the fire, which NHTSA and GM initially didn’t make public, prompted the Detroit- based automaker to offer to take back Volts leased by customers and to Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson testifying before a U.S. House committee in January.

A123 Systems Inc. (AONE) said last month it was recalling electric batteries it made for Fisker Automotive Inc. and other automakers after a $107,000 Fisker Karma shut down because of a battery defect during testing by Consumer Reports magazine.

President Barack Obama has made development of electric vehicles a priority, funding a $7,500 tax credit for buyers of plug-in cars and providing billions of dollars in grants and loans to companies for vehicle and battery development through the Energy Department.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

OFT look at acquisition in electrical wholesaling

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is considering undertakings offered by Edmundson Electrical (EEL) to sell a branch in each of four local areas in England and Scotland to remedy competition concerns raised by its completed acquisition of Electric Center (EC), formerly part of the Wolseley Group.

EEL and EC are two of the largest electrical wholesalers in the UK having a national network of branches. EEL has a chain of 249 branches and EC has 83 branches.

The OFT concluded that the merger would not give rise to competition concerns at a national or regional level because sufficient competitors would remain in the market.

However, having considered a large volume of evidence, including the results of a local survey carried out by the parties, the OFT has concluded that the transaction raised competition concerns in four local areas in England and Scotland.

This was because there were few remaining electrical wholesalers in these local areas that the OFT was confident had the capability to compete strongly against the parties, and the OFT was concerned that customers might therefore see an increase in prices or a deterioration in service as a result of the merger.
In order to meet the OFT's concerns, EEL has offered undertakings to divest either the EEL or the EC branch in each of the four affected local areas to a suitable purchaser (or purchasers) approved by the OFT to restore pre-merger competition levels.

can I mount a cooker switch in a kitchen cupboard

Is it acceptable to mount a cooker switch in a kitchen cupboard that is adjacent to the cooking appliance?

Yes, provided the switch is located so as to be readily accessible.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Electric car battery price could drop 65% by 2020

A report commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) plotting the likely progress of battery technology and cost over the next couple of decades predicts a dramatic drop in price, adding to evidence that electric cars will soon become much more affordable.

The report’s most conservative estimate for a Nissan LEAF-sized pure-electric car would see the cost of a battery pack falling to just over half the current cost by 2020. The most optimistic scenario would see the cost falling to significantly less than half the current level.

The CCC’s interest in electric vehicles stems from its remit to advise the UK government on climate change issues and the setting of carbon reduction targets. It reckons that greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced by at least 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. And it further believes that this can only be achieved by the ‘electrification of drivetrains’.

Looking even further out, the report’s authors reckon that by 2030, the average battery pack cost could fall to less than one third current levels, with range rising to 155 miles – a LEAF currently has a quoted range of just over 100 miles. Battery pack weight would also dramatically reduce by 2030 from a current average of 300kgs to just 180kgs.

Sales of tumble dryers double

soggiest April on record has led to us buying more dryers...

Over the rainy Bank Holiday weekend, sales at Currys were up 115 per cent.

The retailer also sold 11 times more heaters compared with April last year.

Over the last few weeks, the UK has experienced low temperatures with record breaking rainfall.

last year, we were buying wine coolers for alfresco dining and digital cameras to capture those precious Bank Holiday moments in the sun. I wonder how many waterproof camara's we have bought???

we have had enough rain for a week or two, you can stop NOW!!!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Blast of electricity via batterygadget can stop an asthma attack

A device held against the side of the neck for 90 seconds may be a new way to tackle asthma attacks. The battery-powered gadget, which resembles a remote control, sends out low-level electrical signals to stimulate a nerve under the skin in the neck.

This triggers a series of changes that leads to the muscles in the airways relaxing, allowing more air to pass through, and easing symptoms of breathlessness.

NHS figures suggest that 5.4 million people in the UK are being treated for asthma. In an asthma attack, the smooth muscles of the bronchi — the small tubes that branch out from the windpipe and carry air in and out of the lungs — contract. This causes the airways to narrow and, together with inflammation in the linings of the airways, leaves a patient short of breath and with a tight feeling in their chest.

The new device is designed to treat attacks by using low-level electrical stimulation of the nerve that runs up the side of the neck, called the vagus nerve.

When symptoms appear, it is held next to the skin, against the carotid artery, which is next to this nerve.
The weak electrical signal is then transmitted through the skin. The vagus nerve is crucial for co-ordinating the body’s  ‘fight or flight response’ and increasing heart rate and oxygen levels in the body.
When stimulated, part of  the nerve’s response is to  trigger the release of the hormone adrenaline.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

electric car battery prices drop 14 percent on year

The average price of an electric vehicle-grade battery fell 14 percent year-on-year to $689 per kilowatt hour in the first quarter as manufacturing capacity outstripped demand, a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance said on Tuesday.

Lower battery costs for electric vehicles could improve their commercial uptake, which has been slow. The United States wants to see up to 1 million electric and plug-in hybrids on its roads by the middle of next decade.

To help achieve this goal, the U.S. government has spent over $2 billion under President Obama to underwrite domestic battery production and billions more to finance electric car development to cut U.S. oil imports and reduce pollution.

Friday, 11 May 2012

British Gas offers fast-charge kits for Ampera

Vauxhall has teamed up with British Gas to offer fast-charge kits for its extended range EV Ampera vehicle, on sale in May, which will reduce its full charging time by a third to four hours.

The British Gas Home Charging solution costs from £799, which includes the installation of a home charge point, three-year warranty on parts and labour, and three-year home electrical care.

Customers living in the Government’s ‘Plugged-in Places’ areas could qualify for up to a 75% discount. As part of the agreement British Gas will also provide a free home electrical survey to all Vauxhall Ampera customers.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Solar wars hot up as Europe reacts to Chinese competition

While Germany reduces support for its solar industry, which it has subsidised for years, Italy and France are increasing theirs, as Europe fights back against Chinese competition.

In the face of Chinese competition, this week alone has seen two solar power giants dramatically restructure their operations: SunPower and First Solar.

On Monday, SunPower, based in California, announced it was closing a 125 MW capacity manufacturing plant in the Philippines, to amalgamate with another Philippines-based plant with 575 MW capacity. It is retaining its 600 MW plant in Malaysia

Mid April the world's largest CdTe (Cadmium telluride) thin-film PV module manufacturer, First Solar, announced an even more dramatic development.
It is to lay off 2,000 workers, 30% of its workforce, closing a manufacturing facility in Germany and laying idle 24 production lines in its huge factory in Kulim, Malaysia from 1 May. This is expected to save $30-$60 million this year and $100-$120 million annually subsequently.
The end result of First Solar's restructuring will be even cheaper solar power, it hopes. Average manufacturing costs are expected to improve to $0.70-$0.72 per watt in 2012. The following year, costs are expected to reduce even further to $0.60 to $0.64 per watt.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Hybrids more environmentally freiendly than EV

motorists in Michigan, charging their electric vehicles could produce more greenhouse-gas emissions than fueling up and driving the most efficient gas-powered hybrids, according to a new study released Monday by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The organization looked at how electricity is produced around the U.S. — regions more dependent on coal for their electricity received a lower score.

“Today, in Michigan, our analysis is an electric vehicle is as good as some of the best gas vehicles and some hybrids, and if Michigan continues to invest in renewable energy, it can go from being a ‘good region’ to a ‘best region,’” said Don Anair, one of the researchers.

He said that in Michigan, where 70 percent of electricity comes from coal-burning power plants, a plug-in electric vehicle affects the environment the same as a car that gets 38 mpg. That’s not as environmentally beneficial as a 2012 Toyota Prius, for example, which gets 50 mpg. Michigan’s score is about equal to the all-gasoline 2012 Scion iQ. The Rocky Mountain region ranked last with a 33 mpg score. The southwestern corner of Michigan and parts of the Upper Peninsula are lumped with the region that ranked cleaner at 41 mpg and includes mostly Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia.

“When people are considering electric vehicles, I think emissions is one question,” Anair said. “This will certainly make it clear that even with no tailpipe emissions, there are emissions associated with charging it.”

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Electric Car Batteries Are Very Expensive

Speaking at a forum on green technology on Monday, Ford Motor Co. chief executive Alan Mulally indicated battery packs for the company's Focus electric car costs between $12,000 and $15,000 apiece.

"When you move into an all-electric vehicle, the battery size moves up to around 23 kilowatt hours, [and] it weighs around 600 to 700 pounds," Mr. Mulally said at Fortune magazine's Brainstorm Green conference in California.

"They're around $12,000 to $15,000 [a battery]" for a type of car that normally sells for about $22,000, he continued, referring to the price of a gasoline-powered Focus. "So, you can see why the economics are what they are."

Bad news for the world. If you look at the mobile computing space, precisely the area in which you don't see breathtaking innovation is this battery stuff. We're just not getting better at the basic physics of storing electricity in a reasonably compact way.

Battery life for things like smartphones and laptops has improved, but that's all coming as improved efficiency of the chipsets. But here, too, the basic physics of translating engine power into forward automobile motion are not amenable to enormous improvements. You could of course make the car lighter, but for whatever reason this is the fuel economy measure that dare not speak its name. If you look to Europe where gasoline prices are much higher, however, you'll find that the median commuter long ago responded by owning a lighter car. American politicians have tended to tout electrification as a kind of high-tech alternative to efficiency-by-mass-reduction but to an extent the same basic issue recurs.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Fire safety, 5 common sense tips

PROTECTING YOUR FAMILYThere are many steps you can take to prevent your home form the devastating effects of fire.  Here are our TOP FIVE TIPS.
1. Ensure your property has working smoke alarms.  As a minimum we recommend 1 smoke alarm per floor, ideally these should be sited in both the hallway and the landing.  REMEMBER TO TEST YOUR ALARM WEEKLY - try linking this to another weekly event i.e. putting the wheelie bin out for collection.

2. Prepare an escape plan so everyone in your home knows how to escape in the event of a fire.  Also consider a safe meeting point if your escape routes are blocked.

3. Encourage a routine of conducting checks around your home each night. This should include switching off any electrical appliances (e.g. TV's) that are not in use, safely disposing of ash trays in a suitable bin and closing ALL internal doors.

4. Take extra care when cooking using hot oils.  Consider replacing your chip pan with a deep fat fryer which uses a thermostat to control the heat.

5. REMEBER DON'T DRINK AND FRY! - drunk cooking is BAD!

Will the Ampera will boost electric car sales?

lessening the fears over "range anxiety" due to limited battery life.

Vauxhall's Ampera, which launched last year to acclaim in the US as the GM Volt, joins Renault's Fluence ZE [zero emissions], a family car that went on sale last month as one of the newest eligible for a £5,000 "plugged-in car" discount from the government.

Last year, the then transport secretary Phillip Hammond said: "2011 could be remembered as the year the electric car took off", as he launched the grant scheme that covers nine different models. But only around 1,000 were sold last year, and figures for first quarter sales in 2012 show that registrations of new electric cars have largely flatlined, and only half of the allocated budget for the grant scheme is likely to be taken up.
Of the 563,556 cars sold in Q1, only 278 were pure electric models, up from 218 on the year before.

Vauxhall forecasts it will sell 3,500 units of the £30,000 car this year, or 5,000 in a full year. A spokeswoman said its target of 10,000 sales across Europe in 2012 was "in our reach quite easily".

lts see

Saturday, 5 May 2012

A hydrogen atom lost its electron ...

and went to the police station to file a missing electron report.

He was questioned by the police: "Haven't you just misplaced it somewhere? Are you sure that your electron is really lost?"

"I'm positive." replied the atom.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Solar cells thinner than a thread of spider silk created by scientists

The ultra-thin film consists of electrodes on a plastic foil and measures only 1.9 micrometres in thickness – a tenth of the thinnest solar cells currently available, according to researchers in Austria and Japan.

The fact it is extremely thin, light and flexible paves the way for a number of new future uses, including portable electrical charging devices or electronic textiles worn on clothing.

Unveiling the research in a report published by the on-line science journal Nature Communications, the researchers said: “The total thickness of this device is less than a typical thread of spider silk.”

Tsuyoshi Sekitani, from the University of Tokyo, added: “Being ultra-thin means you don’t feel its weight and it is elastic.

“You could attach the device t your clothes like a badge to collect electricity [from the sun]. Elderly people who might want to wear sensors to monitor their health would not need to carry around batteries.”

Wii U

I must admit, its with a bit of a squed perception as we (my family and I) only own the Wii and it has served us well. I dont have an X box 360, 720 or 1080??? we dont have a Playstation 3 and nothing more than the sense of fun our Wii has provided and the expectations of the new spec, we say that the Wii U set to be this 2012’s top seller?

will it be the best selling gift of Christmas 2012? e say yes!

we cant blieve the original was launched way back in 2006. in need of an update? definately

Wii U has a number of expected improvements

added to the pair of wireless Bluetooth 3-axis motion controllers, new dimension as the controllers are based on either side of a 6.2 inch screen and are circular analogue pads.

The Wii controllers require batteries to function whereas the Wii U controller can be recharged and can work as a secondary display with the TV, by itself, or alongside reality style games.

The Wii U controlling also has a microphone and a front facing camera that can be used for gaming and video communication. The Wii U also has touch screen capabilities to match the advanced competition of other manufacturers.

When comparing the consoles, the Wii was the smallest console Nintendo had ever made and can easily fit between books in a bookcase or be hidden away in a cupboard and it stayed cool enough to keep working.

I think we need a choice of colours - Whilst the Wii U is slightly larger than the Wii it is still much smaller than other consoles

The Wii aimed to provide great game play that was fun and enjoyable and this meant graphics were not given as much attention. To rectify this, the Wii U has improved its graphics incredibly and the console has full HDMI connectivity, a full 1080p HD output and uses an IBM Power multi-core microprocessor improve things

The Wii U also enables its users to video call using the control pad and content such as pictures and videos can be shared and viewed on the television. Other consoles feature similar assets – such as the PlayStation 3’s Blu-Ray drive, Nvidia RSX graphics, cell processor, built in hard-drive and built in Wi-Fi –but with Nintendo introducing new details to the Wii U all the time, we say it will be the number one console this Christmas.

what do you say??? right or wrong??? we will see at E3..

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Tips for homeowners at risk of flooding

it is still raining here as I type, so it probably is near you too.

we have just had a rep in claiming the river has burst its banks near his home so here are some tips...

With forecasters predicting that April’s below-average temperatures and torrential rain are set to continue into May, homes across the UK face the risk of flooding. The Electrical Safety Council has put together five essential advice points for anybody dealing with flood damage to their homes.

  1. Do not touch any sources of electricity – such as switches or appliances – when you are standing in flood water
  2. If your electricity supply is not already turned off, contact your suppliers for help and advice.
  3. Do not attempt any electrical repairs or connection of temporary supplies yourself – always use a registered electrician after contacting your supplier.
  4. Don’t turn your gas and electricity back on until your providers say that it is safe to do so.
  5. Get an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) done on your home by a registered electrician. This report will check the condition of the electrical wiring in your property.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Remote heating

Scientists have discovered that when electric current is run through carbon nanotubes, objects nearby heat up while the nanotubes themselves stay cool, like a toaster that burns bread without getting hot. Understanding this phenomenon could lead to new ways of building computer processors that can run at higher speeds without overheating, dissipating their heat elsewhere.

It seems like an ordinary morning at first, but when you go to the kitchen for breakfast, something is wrong. Your toast is burned but the toaster is cold. The switch on the stove is set to "HI" and the teapot is whistling, but the burner isn't hot. As you check your e-mail on your laptop, the surface of the kitchen table it sits on gets warmer and warmer, but the computer isn't overheating--in fact, it's cool to the touch.

In an electron microscopy facility at the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland, Kamal Baloch and John Cumings were having exactly that kind of morning. They ran their experiments over and over, and the result was always the same: when they passed an electrical current through a carbon nanotube, the substrate below it grew hot enough to melt metal nanoparticles on its surface, but the nanotube itself seemed to stay cool, and so did the metal contacts attached to it.

This might not seem so strange at first glance--after all, food cooked in a microwave oven gets hot while the oven itself stays close to room temperature. The problem is that Baloch and Cumings weren't intentionally generating a microwave field. They were only passing a direct electrical current through the nanotube, which should have caused it to heat up. The data were telling them a story that didn't seem to make any sense--one about a plugged-in toaster that could burn bread without getting hot.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Ken or Boris?

Liked this artice from the NYT

The irrepressible mavericks Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson are the only two men to have held the office of Mayor of London since it was created — Ken from 2000 to 2008, Boris from 2008 to now. And one of them will win another term in the election in May. It says much about both of them that they are instantly recognizable from, and almost invariably referred to, by their first names. Otherwise, they have nothing in common.

Ken: In office, this veteran of the Labor Party’s far left fulfilled some of the grimmer predictions that he’d convert City Hall into a free-range zoo for the left: he formally apologized for London’s role in the slave trade; acknowledged President George W. Bush’s visit by hosting a “peace reception,” to which Bush was not invited; and fondly imagined the mass lynching of the Saudi royal family. He also proved shrewdly amenable to business and building and unclogged London’s sclerotic streets with a bold congestion charge.

Boris: Forever giving the impression of having either just waked or not slept, he has negotiated a rigorously orthodox Tory path through education, journalism and politics — Eton, Oxford, The Times, Member of Parliament for the impeccably snooty constituency of Henley-on-Thames. Yet he has horrified nobody more than his generally strait-laced political allies. He has also aroused a certain amount of confused, furtive affection in people who would not normally vote Conservative without a pistol to the temple. And the most visible legacy of his term is a citywide bicycle-rental scheme first mooted during Ken’s second term but irreversibly known as Boris Bikes.

Whom to vote for?
Neither shows any inclination to be anything but himself. Ken recently suggested that a constructive reaction to the financial crisis might be to “hang a banker a week until the others improve.” Boris described Ken’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations as “lefty crap.” Either way, it won’t be boring.

we say, if Ken gets back in, just wait till there is a freedom of information request as to the daily consumption of Wiskey. nuff said.