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Engineering & Technology

Issue 9 • Date 23 May - 5 June 23 2009

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Displaying Results 1 - 25 of 32
  • Engineering & Technology - Cover

    Page(s): C1
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    First Page of the Article
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  • Table of contents

    Page(s): 1
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  • The time of our lives - [editorial]

    Page(s): 2
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    Seventies-style Digital watches have had a bit of a comeback recently, thanks to time-travelling cops on TV and a nostalgia for the decade that taste forgot. Once you couldn't give them away but you??d be amazed how much early models now fetch on eBay. View full abstract»

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  • News - [briefing latest]

    Page(s): 3 - 11
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  • Analysis The asteroid thre at: should we worry? - briefing in depth

    Page(s): 12 - 13
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    In a world where so much emotional energy is expended on climate change and its possible mitigation, the status of planetary defence against asteroid impacts seems strangely underplayed. This is probably because it evokes images of Bruce Willis laying nuclear charges on a marauding space rock, rather than a room full of grey-haired academics debating risk corridors, probabilities and Monte Carlo simulations. In the real world, the latter is closer to the truth. The recent IAA Planetary Defense Conference in Granada, Spain, was the third in the series and the first to be sponsored by the International Academy of Astronautics. It provided a forum for scientists, engineers and policy experts to discuss the discovery and tracking of near-Earth objects (NEOs), potential deflection technologies, and public and political preparedness for any unavoidable, possibly devastating impacts. View full abstract»

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  • Letters - [opinion feedback]

    Page(s): 14 - 16
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  • If you ask me - opinion first person

    Page(s): 17
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    'Almost universally, we see more interest in the total cost of ownership rather than just the acquisition cost' View full abstract»

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  • Engineering time timeline of time chronology of time

    Page(s): 18 - 21
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    Ancient time determining the unit of time we call the day is pretty simple. It's the interval between two successive sunrises. Several Mediterranean civilisations divided the day into 12 daylight hours and 12 night time hours. The year was also an important span; agriculture and many other social customs depend on knowing the recurrence of the equinoxes, when the period of daylight equals that of night, and the solstices, when the sun is highest or lowest in the sky at noon. Several ancient cultures, especially the Babylonian and Chinese, showed great sophistication in measuring longer intervals, such as those marking off lunar and solar eclipses. Even the advance of the equinoxes the slow, steady shift of the coming of the equinoxes caused by the slewing of Earth's rotational axis, amounting to about one-twelfth of the sky every 2,000 years was known in antiquity. View full abstract»

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  • King of clocks

    Page(s): 22 - 25
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    The article discusses the history of Big Ben, UK's world-famous clock. The whole mechanism of the clock is powered by gravity, with the descending weight unwinding the wire wrapped round a large barrel on each train thus rotating it, so that it can operate the train via a series of gears. The maintenance of the clock was presented as well. View full abstract»

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  • Another pale blue dot - [engineering astronomy]

    Page(s): 27 - 29
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    A key premise of science fiction is the existence of worlds beyond our own. In the first E&Tfeature to mark the International Year of Astronomy, Mark Williamson investigates the science of exoplanets and the technology of their detection. View full abstract»

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  • Gadget speak - [consumer technology kit]

    Page(s): 30 - 31
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    This week, Kris Sangani tries two recent music subscription services and advises on camera shake as well as answering your letters View full abstract»

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  • Consumer tech watches

    Page(s): 32 - 33
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    How are wristwatch manufacturers fighting back against mobile phones all of which incorporate time-keeping? The paper discusses the latest in high-tech watches. Watches are making a comeback. Not that young people are suddenly rich enough for an Omega or a Rolex, far from it they're as affected by the world recession as anyone. They are finding watches in another category the watch that does more than tell the time: the smartwatch. View full abstract»

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  • Running into the buffers - [electronics silicon]

    Page(s): 34 - 37
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    Exponentials never last forever. Sooner or later, silicon transistors are going to stop getting smaller, if only because it's tough to make one with less than an atom of silicon in it. The reality is that conventional silicon transistors will stop shrinking sometime before that happens. But how much sooner? The end of the scaling of complementary metal-on- semiconductor (CMOS) silicon transistors could come as soon as a few generations from now. View full abstract»

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  • Breaking up is hard to do - [electronics business]

    Page(s): 38 - 39
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    Chip design has never been that easy, no matter how certain eras or process nodes might appear in retrospect. There has always been a tension between what physics could offer at any one time and what the tools, intellectual property (IP) and engineers could do to exploit it. If there is a way in which the challenges facing present-day semiconductor development differ from the past, it is in the level, breadth and thereby the complexity of the integration. A system-on-chip is a sensitive combination of different hardware blocks, processor cores interconnect and embedded software. Pulling all this together is, quite simply, horrible. The other thing you can be sure of on that list is that something has been missed out. View full abstract»

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  • It's war - but not as we know it - [control robotics]

    Page(s): 40 - 43
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    Intelligent machines deployed on battlefields around the world-from mobile grenade launchers to rocket-firing drones-can already identify and lock onto targets without human help. The first three armed combat robots fitted with large-calibre machine guns deployed to Iraq last summer, manufactured by US arms maker Foster-Miller, proved so successful that 80 more are on order, says Sharkey. But, up to now, a human hand has been required to push the button or pull the trigger. "Military leaders are quite clear that they want autonomous robots as soon as possible, because they are more cost- effective and give a risk-free war. To the extent that military robots can considerably reduce unethical conduct on the battlefield- greatly reducing human and political costs - there is a compelling reason to pursue their development as well as to study their capacity to act ethically, it reads. View full abstract»

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  • Smart robots - [control robotics]

    Page(s): 44 - 45
    Save to Project icon | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (699 KB)  

    It may be an old fantasy, but the basic premise that we will one day engineer machines that are at least as smart as us and whose behaviour is indistinguishable from ours is, according to many roboticists, closer to reality than we might like to think. Our understanding of the human brain, and our ability to 'reverse engineer' it - to analyse how it works and replicate its processes - is increasing dramatically, such that within a couple of decades we should know all about the mechanics of human intelligence and, crucially, learning, and be able to apply this to machines. View full abstract»

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  • Smart grid thinking - [power super grid]

    Page(s): 46 - 49
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    The European electricity grid is past its sell-by-date and creaking at the seams as it attempts to cope with a distribution generation scenario that it was not originally designed for. The author takes a look at the moves to create a European super grid. View full abstract»

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  • Solar grid parity - [power solar]

    Page(s): 50 - 53
    Save to Project icon | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (838 KB)  

    Wherever you are in the world, solar-powered electricity is much more expensive than all the alternatives. Yet in the last few decades, huge progress has been made in solar's cost and efficiency, while the full price of conventional power has only risen. Will it ever be possible for solar power to match the costs of our current electricity generation? The author gauges the likelihood. View full abstract»

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  • Dig for legal victory - [it law]

    Page(s): 54 - 56
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    As the legal profession braces itself for a torrent of credit-crunch inspired fraud cases, pressure is mounting for an end to the conspiracy of silence over electronically-stored information. Be counselled: when the tide of 'credit-crunch' lawsuits washes up on the shores of the UK's legal system, it will shake the profession to its pink- ribboned foundations. The evidence abounds, and the jury is very definitely in: in the UK, former Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer predicts that there is "going to be litigation on a scale that we have not seen before". Already, a helpline set up by the UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) reports "hundreds of instances" of City of London fraud coming in by phone and by email. View full abstract»

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  • Distinctly data centres - [IT professionalism]

    Page(s): 57 - 58
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    The data centres sector remains a good place to be, despite the economic contraction that is crimping other aspects of IT expenditure. Growth continues among carrier-neutral co-location operators in the European market, with three of the largest providers - Equinix, Interxion, and TeleCity - all intending to increase technical data centre footprints through new developments, as well as continuing to build-out existing facilities ready for occupation. Smaller players are also reporting unflagging demand, and big self-provisioning players like Google are still augmenting their global data centre assets. View full abstract»

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  • Analysis virtual time waits for no one - IT timing

    Page(s): 59
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    With an operating system, applications and processes packaged into multiple virtual machines (VMs) all sharing the same underlying hardware resources on a single physical computer, allocating CPU cycles, memory, bandwidth and I/O functions to one VM without adversely affecting the response time of applications running on another is tricky. View full abstract»

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  • Watching the clock - [manufacturing watches]

    Page(s): 60 - 61
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    The author visits Citizen Watches to discover that the gears and wheels are still there, and finer than ever. Citizen is best known as a manufacturer of high-precision timepieces, including the smallest watch, the thinnest watch, and the most accurate watch available today. Manufacturing still takes place primarily in Japan and China. However, a visit to one of Citizen's factories may come as a surprise if you were expecting a traditional manufacturing operation. A modern watch- manufacturing facility has more in common with a sterile semiconductor fab than a run-of- the-mill assembly operation. View full abstract»

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  • A matter of takt - [manufacturing takt time]

    Page(s): 62 - 65
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    Takttime is a key element of lean manufacturing. This paper looks at how it evolved through World War Two Germany and Japan to become a cornerstone of today's Toyota Production System. View full abstract»

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  • Doing time - [comms synchronisation]

    Page(s): 66 - 69
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    Mobile operators are having to find new ways of synchronising their base station networks as they shift to packet-based backhaul connections. This paper explores their options. View full abstract»

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  • Slow down to speed up - [comms slow light]

    Page(s): 70 - 71
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    How the slowing of light could benefit fibre-optic communications, that is speeding up telecommunications networks, is discussed. Mechanisms for the potential telecoms application are briefly explained - resynchronisation and regeneration processes. 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.

Full Aims & Scope

Meet Our Editors

Editor-in-Chief
Dickon Ross
IET