Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Christmas Opening Hours - WBL

Just a quick reminder of our Christmas closure.

OPEN: Wednesday 24th December: 9:00 - 17:00;
CLOSED: Thursday 25th December - Sunday 4th January;
Usual hours: Monday 5th January - Saturday 9th February.

Please note that the IC will remain open 24/7 with self-service facilities.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Standards: What are they and how do I get them?

Generally standards are considered to be shorthand manuals that claim guidance on 'doing things' or 'making things'. Although the use of a standard is not legally imposed, manufacturers are encouraged to adhere to common methods or specifications to establish agreed norms between all interested parties (producers, distributors and consumers).

Consensus standards (those representing current best practice) are usually divided into three geographical levels and adopted by the equivalent official standardisation body (national - ASTM*, BS, DIN** etc, regional - EN and international - ISO). It is possible for a standard to be accepted on more than one geographical level and it is common to find standards agreed by the British Standards Institute (BS), the European Committee for Standardisation (EN) and the International Organisation of Standardisation (ISO). In these cases standards are referred to as follows: BS EN ISO (standard number) (year).

When working to standards it is extremely important to check that the current edition is being referred to as many are revised, reviewed and withdrawn. This can be done by referring back to the standardisation organisation and checking its status.

To access British Standards from MUSE:

From MUSE select the 'Library' tab and 'access the Library's subject databases' to find an alphabetical list of all the literature databases subscribed to by the university. Here you'll need to select the British Standards Online link:

British Standards Online

and click the 'Connect to British Standards online' quick link on the right.

From here you must select the BSOL Subscribers link to access material free of charge, otherwise you may be prompted for payment:

BSOL Subscribers Link

This link will direct you to a standard search form with the option to search either standard numbers or keywords. You must always select to search from the 'full BSI catalogue' as no data is stored within the 'my subscriptions' section of the database.

On your results page you'll notice a 'View document' button. Here you can download the document straight to your computer as a PDF. Alternatively click the standard's title to retrieve the full bibliographic details, where you'll be able to find out what the standard has been replaced by should its status be withdrawn. There is also a 'View document' button at the top of this page for quick access to the PDF.

Should you need any further help accessing standards feel free to contact either myself or Carmen O'Dell.

* American Society for Testing and Materials
** Deutsches Institut fur Normung

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Steven Chu

Steven ChuSteven Chu (of The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory), a remarkable Nobel Prize winning experimental physicist, is to replace Samuel Bodman by becoming Barak Obama’s new Energy Secretary.

In 1997 Chu shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Claude Cohen-Tannoudji and William D. Phillips for their work on cooling and trapping atoms using laser light. This technique is used in physics to alter atomic velocities by cooling temperatures in order to trap atoms in space, resulting in more precise measurements of atomic spectra and clocks.

As the new Energy Secretary Chu has been tasked with finding alternatives to fossil fuels in an attempt to ‘end US dependence on foreign oil and fight climate change’ (BBC News). As a Professor of Physics and Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California (UC), Berkeley Chu is already well known for his advocation of combating climate change and the need for carbon-neutral renewable energy sources using scientific methods. He claims:
What the world does in the coming decade will have enormous consequences that will last for centuries [and] it is imperative that we begin without further delay (BBC News).

Below is a video of ‘Growing Energy’ from the PBS series where Chu is seen discussing some early alternatives to foreign oil.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

The Great Debate

Science versus Religion or evidence versus faith is one of our age old great debates that, whichever way you look at it affects everyone, everyday. A report published this week in Nature Nanotechnology from The University of Wisconsin’s Department of Life Sciences Communication investigates religious and cultural attitudes towards nanotechnology and finds that ‘when it comes to the world of the very, very small – Americans have a big problem’.

According to Dietram Scheufele (lead author and LSC professor) ‘nano and its capacity to alter the fundamentals of nature, it seems, are failing the moral litmus test of religion’. Twelve European countries were rated along with the US in terms of ‘religiosity’ to measure attitudes of technological acceptance and whether these findings have implications for scientists and politicians making policy decisions in regulating the usage of nanotechnology.

The main findings of this research suggest that in religiously strong countries (Italy, Austria and Ireland) people are less accepting of nanotechnology, viewing its capacity to alter the fundamentals of nature in a negative light. Yet in secular social systems (like France or Germany) the potential to modify living organisms or even inspire synthetic life with science is perceived to be more morally or ethically acceptable. For Scheufele these findings:
are important not only because they reveal the paradox of citizens of one of the world’s elite technological societies taking a dim view of the implications of a particular technology, but also because they begin to expose broader negative public attitudes toward science when people filter their views through religion.

For more see: BBC Science and Environment; Religious beliefs and public attitudes toward nanotechnology in Europe and the United States (pdf).

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

See the latest posts to this blog from your MUSE

To add this blog as an RSS (Rich Site Summary) feed to you MUSE account, so that you can see the latest posts without having to leave MUSE, simply do the following: