“What is science? Why do we do it?”. I ask these questions to my students a lot, in fact, I spend a lot of time asking myself the same thing.
And of course, as much as philosophy of science has thankfully graced us with a lot of scholars, academics and researchers who have discussed, and even provided answers to these questions, sometimes, when you are buried under piles of papers, staring at your screen for hours and hours on end, it doesn’t feel very science-y, does it?
As a child I always imagined the scientist constantly surrounded by super cool things like the towers around Nicola Tesla, or Cousteau being surrounded by all those underwater wonders. Reality though, as it often does, may significantly differ from your early life expectations. I should have guessed that Ts and Cs would apply… Because there is nothing magnificent about looking for that one bug in your code that made your entire run plot the earth inside out and upside down, at least not for me.
On Friday 25th November, at the Cabot Institute Annual
Lecture, a new energy technology was unveiled that uses diamonds to generate
electricity from nuclear waste. Researchers at the University of Bristol, led
by Prof. Tom Scott, have created a prototype battery that incorporates radioactive
Nickel-63 into a diamond, which is then able to generate a small electrical current.
Details of this technology can be found in our official press
release here: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2016/november/diamond-power.html.
Despite the low power of the batteries (relative to current
technologies), they could have an exceptionally long lifespan, taking 5730
years to reach 50% battery power. Because of this, Professor Tom Scott explains:
“We envision these batteries to be used in situations where
it is not feasible to charge or replace conventional batteries. Obvious
applications would be in low-power electrical devices where long life of the
energy source is needed, such as pacemakers, satellite…
Reflections and introductions: A volta
The volta is a poetic device, closely but not solely, associated with the Shakespearean sonnet, used to enact a dramatic change in thought or emotion. Concomitant with this theme is that March is a month with symbolic links to change and new life. The Romans famously preferred to initiate the most significant socio-political manoeuvres of the empire during the first month of their calendar, mensis Martius. A month that marked the oncoming of spring, the weakening of winter’s grip on the land and a time for new life.
The need for change
Having very recently attended the March UKADR conference, organised by the Cabot Institute here in Bristol, I did so with some hope and anticipation. Hope and anticipation for displays and discussions that conscientiously touched upon this volta, this need for change in how we study the dynamics of natural hazards. The conference itself was very agreeable, it had great sandwiches, with much stimulating discussion …