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February 07, 2011

A world after capitalism, how to lose weight, and the world's first HDR video system

Professor Lord Bhattacharyya Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Director of WMG Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya was presented with the award for Lifetime Contribution to Midlands' Business in a ceremony on Friday 28 January 2011. Professor Lord Bhattacharyya established WMG in 1980 in order to reinvigorate UK manufacturing through the application of cutting edge research and effective knowledge transfer. The group started small, but by working collaboratively with industrial partners, WMG has grown into a global force in a wide range of fields, from automotive research to innovations in healthcare.

Professor Lord Bhattacharyya has published extensively in the field of manufacturing and is advisor to many companies, governments and organisations around the world. He has been honoured many times. He was honoured with a CBE in 1997, awarded a knighthood in 2003 for services to higher education and industry and was elevated to the Lords in 2004.

Professor Nigel Thrift, Vice Chancellor of the University of Warwick added:

Professor Lord Bhattacharyya has been a pioneer of partnership between manufacturing and University research and teaching. Many jobs have been created, and the boundaries of scientific knowledge have been pushed back, by the strength of his advocacy of such partnerships and his effectiveness in actually delivering such partnerships. His leadership in this field has benefited our region and continues to have a global impact.

Read more on the University of Warwick website >>

Greed is not good: so has the economy come full circle?

In 1995, Professor Lord Robert Skidelsky published a book called The World After Communism. Now he wonders whether there will be a world after capitalism. This question comes from his feeling that western civilisation is increasingly unsatisfying, saddled with a system of incentives that are essential for accumulating wealth, but that undermine our capacity to enjoy it. Capitalism may be close to exhausting its potential to create a better life - at least in the world's rich countries.

Yet what happens to such a system when scarcity has been turned to plenty? Does it just go on producing more of the same, stimulating jaded appetites with new gadgets, thrills and excitements? How much longer can this continue? Do we spend the next century wallowing in triviality?

Professor Lord Robert Skidelsky argues that:

The dishonouring of greed is likely only in those countries whose citizens already have more than they need. And even there, many people still have less than they need. The evidence suggests that economies would be more stable and citizens happier if wealth and income were more evenly distributed. The economic justification for large income inequalities - the need to stimulate people to be more productive - collapses when growth ceases to be so important. Perhaps socialism was not an alternative to capitalism, but its heir. It will inherit the earth not by dispossessing the rich of their property, but by providing motives and incentives for behaviour that are unconnected with the further accumulation of wealth.

Read more in The National >>

New technology offers higher dynamic range to capture dimly lit shots

Researchers at the University of Warwick have developed the world’s first complete High Dynamic Range (HDR) video system, from video capture to image display, that will help a range of users including: surveillance camera operators, surgeons using video to conduct or record surgery, and camera crews following a football being kicked from sunshine into shadow. The research team, led by Professor Alan Chalmers, have developed what they are calling “the world’s first complete high dynamic range (HDR) video system".

The system also requires a special HDR display, which is made up of a combination of an LED and LCD panel. A surgery team at Heartlands Hospital, in Birmingham, UK, has tested the HDR system to assist and document surgery procedures.

Professor Chalmers said:

The natural world presents us with a wide range of colors and intensities. In addition, a scene may be constantly changing with, for example, significant differences in lighting levels going from outside to inside, or simply as the sun goes behind some clouds. A human eye can cope with those rapid changes and variety, but a traditional camera is only capable of capturing a limited range of lighting in any scene. The actual range it can cope with depends on the exposure and f-stop setting of the camera. Anything outside that limited range is either under- or overexposed.

Read more in the Broadcast Engineering magazine >>

Speeding up your metabolism is key to slimness

When trying to lose weight, a slow metabolism is often blamed when the pounds refuse to shift, despite continuous dieting. Similarly, we look with envy at the person with a 'fast metabolism', who seems to gorge on snacks but remains slim. To be exact, metabolism ­actually encompasses a vast array of processes vital to keep us alive. Converting food and drink into energy is just one of these. ­Others involve things such as absorbing nutrients into cells. The key to losing weight is raising your Basic Metabolic Rate, thereby burning more calories each day.

Victor Zammit, professor of metabolic chemistry at the University of Warwick, explains how this may be achieved by simply turning off the central heating:

Brown adipose tissue was ­previously not thought to be present in adults. Now, we think that about 30 per cent of adult humans have it.The fat looks brown because, unlike white fat, it has a lot of mitochondria — little boilers in cells that burn energy and generate heat. In a new-born baby these cells keep them warm — the brain switches on the brown adipose in cold ambient temperatures. The lucky one in three of us with brown fat can activate it simply with exposure to the cold. In future, techniques might be developed to switch our white fat tissue to brown fat tissue.

Read more in the Daily Mail >>

Five NRIs named for Padma Shri

Five NRIs and people of Indian origin and three foreigners are among 84 people named for the Padma Shri honours Tuesday. Renowned legal scholar Upendra Baxi who teaches at the University of Warwick, United Kingdom, been chosen for the honour in public and legal affairs category. Padma Shri is the fourth highest civilian award in the Republic of India, after the Bharat Ratna, the Padma Vibhushan and the Padma Bhushan. It is awarded by the Government of India.

Read more in the Prokerala News >>





January 24, 2011

Warwick Week – Xbox robot, automotive future in Turkey, and why men don't look after their health

University of Warwick engineering students use Xbox to aid award winning rescue robot

Engineering students at the University of Warwick are building an innovative rescue robot which uses the Xbox Kinect to help navigate the machine - in a bid to retain the European RoboCup Rescue Championship title which was won by a team of Warwick students last year. They are currently trialling the XBox Kinect to see if they can use it to provide a method of real time visual communication and 3D mapping, which will ultimately aid in the navigation of the autonomous robot to give the team an edge over the competition.

The team is being backed by WMG academic, Dr Emma Rushforth, who believes the project will give the students an excellent opportunity showcase their skills. She said:

As well as giving each team member experience in solving real engineering problems, the project offers them the chance to acquire unparalleled expertise in mobile robot design which, in future, companies will need to have.

Read more in the press release and the Official Xbox Magazine >>

Lord Bhattacharyya looks towards Turkey

Speaking in the House of Lords, Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, head of Warwick Manufacturing Group, advised that the Midlands automotive sector needs to see Turkey as the next big sales opportunity, saying that the country could become the next 'powerhouse' economy. There are only around a hundred vehicles per thousand people in Turkey and in neighbouring countries, the number is lower still, though people are getting wealthier.

Developing durable, low fuel consumption vehicles will be crucial to meeting consumer needs, he argues:

That's why Turkey is now focused on improving R&D. Facilities that employ at least 50 technicians get around half of their investment costs Those program costs required beyond the development phase to introduce into operational use a new capability; to procure initial, additional, or replacement equipment for operational forces; or to provide for major modifications of an existing capability. This is a major opportunity for British business. We have world-leading innovation in automotive to offer. If we offer partnership with Turkish institutions now, we will reap rewards when expanding businesses look to the UK for support. If we spurn this chance, others will seek to take that place.

Read more in the Birmingham Mail >>

Prestigious US honour for Head of Dentistry

Edward Lynch, Head of Warwick Dentistry, part of Warwick Medical School, has been honoured with accredited membership of the prestigious American Society for Dental Aesthetics (ASDA). Fewer than 200 educators, innovators and practitioners worldwide have received this distinguished accredited membership since ASDA was established in 1976, when it became the first aesthetic dental association in the world. To mark his membership, Edward was asked to give the prestigious keynote address at the annual ASDA congress in San Antonio, Texas. He was also voted by his peers in April 2010 as this year’s most influential person in UK dentistry.

Dr Lynch explained: 

I’m delighted to receive the honour of this prestigious accreditation and hope that it allows us to continue to raise awareness about the excellent and innovative dental education and research we provide in Warwick Dentistry at Warwick Medical School. We are building a team of world class academics in Warwick Dentistry and we aim to be a world-leading postgraduate unit, internationally renowned for our high quality and relevance of our education programmes and for the excellence and significance of our research.

Read more in the press release >>

Wave power could contain fusion plasma

Scientists may have found a way to channel the flux and fury of a nuclear fusion plasma into a means to help sustain the electric current needed to contain that very same fusion plasma. Researchers at the University of Warwick’s Centre for Fusion Space and Astrophysics and the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s Culham Centre for Fusion Energy used large scale computer simulations to confirm a longstanding prediction by U.S. researchers that high energy alpha particles born in fusion reactions will be key to generating fusion power in the next planned generation of tokamaks. This work was only possible using the recently commissioned large scale computing facilities at the University of Warwick supported by EPSRC, in particular for theoretical work supporting fusion energy generation.

University of Warwick researcher Professor Sandra Chapman said:

These large scale computer simulations capture the plasma dynamics in unprecedented detail and have opened up an exciting new area.

Read more in Scientific Computing >>

Do men fail to look after their own health?

In Coventry the biggest influence on your life expectancy is not the colour of your skin or even where you live and work. The Telegraph recently revealed how men living in inner city Coventry are unlikely to reach retirement age. In Foleshill, men living in this inner city district have the lowest average life expectancy in the whole of Coventry – just 64 years-old.

Alan Dolan, associate professor in men’s health at the University of Warwick, argues that society is partly to blame for men failing to take of their own health.

The way we see men has a very important impact on they way they behave and on their health. We want men to be independent, resilient, reliant and physically and emotionally strong. It starts in childhood, we tell them ‘big boys don’t cry’, ‘be a man my son’ or ‘don’t be a wimp’ – it’s all quite macho. The way men demonstrate that masculinity is associated with health risks... Also, men don’t tend to talk about their health. Can you imagine a group of men sat around discussing testicular self-awareness or cancer? But that’s not to say men don’t understand their health. Men are often unwillingly exposed to health hazards and danger at work. They are less likely to refuse to do jobs that may well damage their health, they don’t feel able to. Men can’t live outside their gender and they can’t choose to become more like women.

Read more in the Coventry Telegraph >>


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