E&T news weekly #13 – we choose our favourite engineering and technology news stories from the week

Friday August 15 2014

  dominic-lentonMaths top A-level but gender gap remains

Good news – the number of students taking STEM subjects at A-level has increased for the fifth year in a row, according to official figures. Bad news – the gender gap highlighted by the recent IET skills survey which found the proportion of tech sector professionals who are women remains in many areas. Even in computing, which saw the biggest rise of any subject with the number of students taking the qualification rising 11 per cent to 4,171, just 7.5 per cent of candidates were female.

Drones to help explore cultural heritage

The biggest archaeological studies these days often begin with a geophysical survey spotting an anomaly in the landscape that wouldn’t have been picked up by even the most keen-eyed observer on the ground. The latest development is an unmanned aerial vehicle equipped with ground-penetrating radar that will be able to explore inaccessible areas. One of the first stops is a Roman villa currently being studied by Leicester University’s Department of Archaeology & Ancient History.

Dominic Lenton, managing editor


  James HayesNew Trans-Pacific subsea cable backed by Google

It often comes as a surprise to many users of global communications systems such as the Internet that the extensive subsea cable networks are increasingly critical for maintaining international digital links. New cables laid around the coast of Africa, for instance, are transforming the continent’s communications infrastructure.

James Hayes, technology features editor


  Aasha BodhaniCharging mobile phones with noise

Have you ever been in the situation where your smartphone is running on 5 per cent battery and you have no charger to hand? Well, scientists at Queen Mary University of London and Nokia may have solved the problem. Jointly, they have created a prototype device which aims to generate enough power to charge a smartphone by being exposed to unwanted noise. The device is embedded with energy-harvesting nanogenerators, which turn sound wave vibrations into electricity.

New breast cancer imaging tech enter clinical trials

Researchers at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London are hoping a new scanning technology will be a major development in cancer surgery. The two devices – LightPath and EnLight – hope to remove breast tumours and cancerous lymph nodes without unnecessarily cutting out healthy tissue and also saving patients from having to undergo two operations.

Aasha Bodhani, assistant technology features editor


  Edd GentCheap hemp as good as graphene for supercapacitors

Hemp has long been touted as a wonder crop as it can be used to make everything from food, to clothes, paper, fuel and even building materials, so it seems fitting that it should be displacing nanotechnology’s wonder material graphene.

Edd Gent, online news reporter

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