The title of this post is the title of a talk that I will deliver during the Pint of Science Festival in Liverpool later this month. At last year’s festival I spoke about the very small: Revealing the invisible: real-time motion of virus particles [see ‘Fancy a pint of science‘ on April 27th, 2022]. This year I am moving up the size scale and from biomedical engineering to aerospace engineering to talk about condition monitoring in aircraft structures based on our recent research in the INSTRUCTIVE [see ‘INSTRUCTIVE final reckoning‘ on January 9th 2019] and DIMES [see ‘Our last DIMES‘ on September 22, 2021] projects. I am going describe how we have reduced the size and cost of infrared instrumentation for monitoring damage propagation in aircraft structures while at the same time increasing the resolution so that we can detect 1 mm increments in crack growth in metals and 6 mm diameter indications of damage in composite materials. If you want to learn more how we did it and fancy a pint of science, then join us in Liverpool later this month for part of the world’s largest festival of public science. This year we have a programme of engineering talks on Hope Street in Frederiks on May 22nd and in the Philharmonic Dining Rooms on May 23rd where I be the second speaker.
The DIMES and INSTRUCTIVE projects received funding from the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 820951 and 6968777 respectively.
The opinions expressed in this blog post reflect only the author’s view and the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.
Last weekend I sat down at my laptop to write this week’s post with only a vague idea of a topic. When I opened my laptop I was surprised to see two emails from a supposedly reputable commercial publisher inviting me to be a guest editor for two special issues of two different journals. For two decades, I served as editor-in-chief of two international journals consecutively with only a short overlap so I am well-qualified to act as a guest editor. However, the invitations related to cosmetic dentistry and wire arc additive manufacturing. I know almost nothing about these two subjects so why was I receiving invitations from the editors of two journals to be a guest editor. In collaboration with colleagues, I have published some papers recently on another form of additive manufacturing [see ‘If you don’t succeed try and try again‘ on September 29th 2021]. My Google Scholar profile shows that my two most highly cited papers relate to work performed thirty years ago on osseointegrated dental implants [see ‘Turning the screw in dentistry‘ on September 30th, 2020]; although on closer examination it would also reveal that I have published nothing since then on this subject. I suspect that a poorly programmed algorithm was fooled by my eclectic and long publication record into issuing poorly targeted invitations rather than the academic editors exercising poor judgment. At least, I hope that is what happened since the alternative is that journal editors are no longer exercising academic judgment (though it is obvious this is also happening given the incoherent reviews of manuscripts that editors too frequently pass on to authors probably without reading them). I will treat these invitations as spam; however, others may see them as opportunities to create or expand ‘peer-review’ rings and put more ‘Rotten eggs in the store‘ [see post on November 30th, 2022]. The peer-review and publication system for scientific papers is clearly broken and one part of the solution is to remove commercial interests from the process.
I have written previously about sea level rises [see ‘Merseyside Totemy‘ on August 17th, 2022 and ‘Climate change and tides in Liverpool‘ on May 11th, 2016] and the fact that a 1 metre rise in sea level would displace 145 million people [see ‘New Year resolution‘ on December 31st, 2014]. Sea levels globally have risen 102.5 mm since 1993 primarily due to the water added as a result of the melting of glaciers and icecaps and due to the expansion of the seawater as its temperature rises – both of these causes are a result of global warming resulting from human activity. I think that this is probably well-known to most readers of this blog. However, I had not appreciated that the polar ice caps are sufficiently massive that their gravitational attraction pulls the water in the oceans towards them, so that as they melt the oceans move towards a more even distribution of water raising sea levels further away from the icecaps. This is problematic because the population density is higher in the regions further away from the polar ice caps, as shown in the image. Worldwide about 1 billion people, or about an eighth of the global population, live less than 10 metres above current high tide lines. If we fail to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Centigrade and it peaks at 5 degrees Centigrade then the average sea level rise is predicted to be as high as 7 m according to the IPCC.
In September I am planning to initiate a new research project on the interaction of bacteria with cellular and hard surfaces. It is in collaboration with Jude Curran and is co-funded by Unilever and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. We have already used the optical method of caustics in a microscope to track and characterise the movement of synthetic nanoparticles as small as 3 nm in an array of biologically-relevant solutions [see ‘Nano biomechanical engineering of agent delivery to cells’ on December 15th, 2021]. We have also used the same technique to characterise and quantify the motion and growth of bacteria in solutions. Now, we plan to use caustic signatures as a label-free tracking technology for pre-clinical testing of antimicrobial solutions and coatings. We plan to start by considering binding and removal of viral particles and bacterial spores from hard and soft laundry surfaces using various bacterial species, including Staph aureus which is responsible for laundry malodour; before progressing to the interaction of bacteria with human oral and skin cell cultures. We are in the process of recruiting a suitable PhD student so if you are interested or know someone who might be suitable then get in touch. If you want to learn more about our tracking technology and fancy a pint of science, then join us in Liverpool in May for part of the world’s largest festival of public science. I will be talking about ‘Revealing the invisible: real-time motion of virus particles’ on May 10th at 7.30pm on Leaf of Bold Street.