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Engineering & Technology

Issue 12 • Date July 5 2008

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Displaying Results 1 - 25 of 33
  • Engineering & Technology - Cover page

    Page(s): C1
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    First Page of the Article
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  • Table of contents - Vol. 3, No. 12

    Page(s): 1
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    First Page of the Article
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  • Eco cars get racy

    Page(s): 2
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    It looks good and it would feel good to drive. Or so says the Spanish student who designed the car concept on our cover, a cross between a motorbike and something from science fiction. But it's also a design meant to save energy wherever it can. And it shows that environmentally friendly designs don't have to be fluffy, cuddly, green, organic or plain. View full abstract»

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  • Analysis renewables still off-target

    Page(s): 16 - 17
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    This paper discusses about the renewable energy. The Renewable Energy Association, which represents the country's major renewable energy producers and users, welcomed the breadth of the strategy document, but was alarmed by the lack of urgency. View full abstract»

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  • Our virtual future

    Page(s): 18 - 21
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    Virtual reality, or VR, is an old idea, a natural and obvious evolution of simulator technology invented originally in the defence sector for R&D and training, and later extensively developed in every sector for design and visualisation. View full abstract»

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  • Think electric

    Page(s): 22 - 24
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    With biofuels being subjected to allegations of hidden carbon costs and causing food shortages in the developing world, it has never been a better time for makers of that other current viable petrol alternative, electric cars, to develop and market them. View full abstract»

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  • Eco of tomorrow

    Page(s): 25
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    They're only ideas and models of course, but these concepts are by serious designers. The Royal College of Art vehicle design postgraduate course in London is the most famous in the world, with designers in this year's graduate show from France, Korea, Italy, Sweden, Finland and Spain as well as the UK. Students of the course often go on to work in the world's most important car design studios. You may well drive a car designed by one of its alma mater. Here are just three of this year's projects with an alternative energy or energy saving rationale. View full abstract»

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  • Rocket on wheels

    Page(s): 26 - 28
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    Why fly when your car will take you long-haul in speed and comfort? The Acabion car is the fastest road vehicle in the world. It can reach 340mph on 50 per cent throttle in less than 30 seconds. Beside it, most high-performance cars look like donkey carts at a vegetable market. View full abstract»

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  • A conscious muddle

    Page(s): 30 - 31
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    To decide whether consciousness can be uploaded into a machine, we have to understand first what consciousness is and how it emerges. This is where engineers may need help from philosophers. Professor Emeritus Lynn Trainor, a long-time member of the physics department at the University of Toronto who died earlier this year, is reported as saying: "What fascinates me is this. The egg gets fertilised. The cells start dividing. And then consciousness arises out of it. How?" In his book The Mysterious Flame', British philosopher Colin McGinn argues that the emergence of consciousness in the physical brain is a mystery that we will never unravel. Could he be mistaken? In 'Evolution and Consciousness', Canadian philosopher Leslie Dewart asserts that speech generates consciousness in the race and in every new member of the race. To examine this possibility, we need to differentiate between communication, speech and language. In her book The First Word', Christine Kenneally does a survey of the unsuccessful quests by linguists for the origin of language. But, maybe, linguists are the wrong people looking for the wrong thing? The bodily act of speech long precedes all language, reading, writing, Braille, sign language and all speech substitutes. I listened to a University of Toronto professor speaking about age-related changes in hearing. He referred to the resulting difficulties in language comprehension. But we do not hear language; we hear speech. He went on to refer to "spoken language". He was referring to the act of speech. Even worse, the BBC reported a Lancaster University study of 120 toddlers which found that the ability to perform complex mouth movements was strongly linked to language development. Aren't complex mouth movements linked to the development of speech? Even neurologists are misled when they refer to language centres in the brain. Sufferers of a debilitating stroke soon know that it is the speech centre in the brain that has been affected, regard- ess of the language previously spoken. As Thomas Hobbes writes in 'Of Man': "The most noble and most profitable invention of all other, was that of Speech." He was not confused by the red herring of language. The distinction between speech and language is beauti-fully illustrated in the biblical story of the tower of Babel. The Hebrew Scriptures tell us: "And the Lord said, "Behold they are one people and they have all one language; Come, let us go down, and there confuse theanguage, that they may not understand one another's speech [my italics]"." I am not surprised at the confusion between speech and language. Rather than search fruitlessly for the origin of the latter, we can realistically reconstruct the emergence of speech. If anyone should object that this happened in prehistoric times, let me remind them that Darwin successfully reconstructed the origin of species that took place over billions of years. The emergence of speech is recent by comparison. View full abstract»

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  • Letters

    Page(s): 32 - 33
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  • If you ask me

    Page(s): 34
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    There's often a gap between idea creation and mass adoption. People speak of the 'valley of death' where funding for demonstration and scale-up is insufficient to support market success. Getting through this valley is difficult - and support is often needed from colleagues, peers and government. View full abstract»

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  • The global engineer

    Page(s): 35
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    I know it's a terrible cliche, but I'm a woman who's never been able to reverse a car. I'll do anything to avoid having to stare into the wing mirrors and go backwards to park. And when it's a hired car, it's even more terrifying. Nothing will make me take the chance of approaching a space from the rear. I know from personal experience that just one tiny tap in a hired car can cost a huge amount. View full abstract»

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  • Full steam ahead

    Page(s): 36 - 37
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    When Thomas Newcomen built the first steam engine in 1712 few believed it was really his idea and fewer still could conceive of where the invention might lead. The author looks at the heritage of the great man and his invention. View full abstract»

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  • Gadgets

    Page(s): 38 - 39
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  • Killing time

    Page(s): 40 - 43
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    Discera aims to replace the quartz crystals used in practically all electronic systems today with oscillators built from silicon using micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) techniques. View full abstract»

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  • Parallel worlds

    Page(s): 44 - 45
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    In the semiconductor business, the most popular programming language is C/C++. However, since multi-core processing architectures moved into the silicon mainstream, it has quickly become apparent that C/C++ does not lend itself well to writing software that fully exploits - or even reflects - the inherent parallelism of today's chips. Multicore development can't wait for new languages so developers are stepping in with, a self-help guide to keeping deadlocks at bay. View full abstract»

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  • Multidisciplinary machine building

    Page(s): 46 - 49
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    In today's world it is rare to find electromechanical devices without some kind of embedded intelligence. From production systems, remote control vehicles and automotive subsystems, like ABS, to everyday equipment like digital cameras, CD players and washing machines, most electromechanical devices rely on embedded controllers. Mechatronics is a system-level approach to the process of designing intelligent, embedded systems - devices that are not just electrical or mechanical, and are more than just control systems. It is a complete integration of electrical, mechanical and control system design process. View full abstract»

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  • Managing the invisible assets

    Page(s): 50 - 52
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    The Programmable Controller (PLC) is the most vital control element in the manufacturing environment, yet the development and procurement of PLC programming services is ad hoc, often resulting in efficiency and maintenance problems. Those problems contribute to poor overall equipment effectiveness (OEE ) figures and a resultant financial losses. Hardware assets tend to be fairly obvious to a company, but corbis software assets can be neglected simply because they are invisible. And yet software assets control the machines and processes. The support documentation for those assets attests to the quality of the PLC program development process and is a useful tool for solving hardware and software maintenance problems. Anybody responsible for a plant's software systems would do well to look at the PLC documentation, to check how detailed it is and whether it contributes positively to the maintenance function. View full abstract»

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  • Chasing the dream

    Page(s): 54 - 57
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    As circle squaring exercises go it is hard to think of a more difficult one faced by this or any future government. On the one hand, Britain needs more homes - three million by 2020 is the ambitious target set by the government - to cope with a growing population, more single occupancy households and the fact that we are living longer. On the other hand, climate change remains the greatest of challenges. View full abstract»

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  • Turbulent times

    Page(s): 58 - 59
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    This paper discusses the advantages and challenges of developing offshore wind energy sources for the UK. A revolution that will deliver energy to this generation, and the next, and the next is the one that is indigenous and secure, and where the fuel is free. The new grid needed for 2020 is a strategic, economic highway and it should be built now. At a time of rising input costs it must be more vocal about the local long term economic benefits of wind. View full abstract»

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  • The 'big iron' is back

    Page(s): 60 - 63
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    Mainframes have been around for 60 years, yet the latest generation still offers advantages over other high-end computer platforms for many applications - now including data centre processing. This paper discusses the new mainframe released by IBM, the z10 which houses 64 processors. The paper also talks about the advantages of using mainframes in terms of power efficiency. View full abstract»

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  • Viewpoint

    Page(s): 64
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    More than 1,000 organisations now use the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA). The accredited organisation delivering IDCL (international version of the European Computer Driving Licence) training and courseware to the current syllabus in China, who have also developed a SFIA-mapped course aimed at the Chinese market. Sino International Software Engineering (SISE) is an advanced software engineering course with methodology and project management. It is certified by the Irish Computer Society SkillsCert Programme, and also references CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration) certification that is managed by Carnegie Melon. Adding SFIA to manage and demonstrate individual skills is perhaps another way for a relatively-fledgling industry in China to develop itself in potential European Markets. Also in progress are initiatives including the European e-skills ILB portal that aims to support companies and individuals. View full abstract»

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  • 60-second interview

    Page(s): 65
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    The Open Source ideal continues to grow core support at the heart of the applications mainstream, and recently it has been widening the inroads it's been making into the automotive sector. The in-vehicle operating system platform space has been dominated by Microsoft Auto OS, QNX's RTOS, and other proprietary solutions. Now it is being challenged by Linux-based initiatives that could bring to the car and truck the same flexibility enjoyed by home and office. Over the last three years, Linux has been stealthily establishing itself as a de facto operating system for a clutch of in-vehicle applications, most notably so-called infotainment systems that support and link audio, telemetric, and telephony functionality. Freescale Semiconductor addresses this market from the embedded systems direction: its Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) is a real-time operating system based on the Linux 2.6 kernel offering a Linux software solution. In April 2008 Freescale introduced its MPC5123 dual-core processor for embedded Linux applications that comes bundled with a developers starter kit.Then Wind River's Linux Platform for Infotainment will offer pre-integration with third-party networking and multimedia applications. Applications so far signed-up include speech-recognition and speech-to-text technologies by Nuance Communications, Bluetooth and advanced echo-cancellation and noise reduction solutions by Parrot, music management and automatic playlisting technologies by Gracenote (just bought by Sony), multimedia networking solutions by SMSC, and DVD playback by Corel's LinDVD. View full abstract»

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  • Analysis

    Page(s): 65
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    Wind River is steering toward a market where automotive manufacturers will be able to modify their value propositions where infotainment systems choice is a string factor in purchasing decisions - and that includes all kind of vehicles. View full abstract»

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Aims & Scope

Engineering & Technology is the IET's flagship magazine featuring analysis, news, innovation announcements, job advertisements and careers advice.

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Meet Our Editors

Editor-in-Chief
Dickon Ross
IET