Tag Archives: Manchester

Of graphene cities and Manchester (UK)

I have expressed great admiration for the graphene publicity effort (mentioned in this Feb. 21, 2012 posting and elsewhere) put on by the UK during the run up to its European Commission award of a 1B Euro research prize in January 2013 (mentioned in my Jan. 28, 2013 posting). Officially, the award was given to the Graphene FET (future and emerging technologies) flagship project consortium headed by Chalmers University (Sweden).

The University of Manchester, a member of the consortium, has been active in graphene research and commercialization in the UK, from my Feb. 19, 2013 posting,

The University of Manchester (UK) has a particular interest in graphene as the material was isolated by future Nobel Prize winners, Andre Gheim and Kostya (Konstantin) Novoselov in the university’s laboratories. There’s a Feb. 18, 2013 news item on Nanowerk highlighting the university’s past and future role in the development of graphene on the heels of the recent research bonanza,

The European Commission has announced that it is providing 1bn euros over 10 years for research and development into graphene – the ‘wonder material’ isolated at The University of Manchester by Nobel Prize winners Professors Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov.

The University is very active in technology transfer and has an excellent track-record of spinning out technology, but some think that the University has taken a different view when it comes to patenting and commercialising graphene. Others have expressed a broader concern about British Industry lagging behind in the graphene ‘race’, based upon international ‘league tables’ of numbers of graphene patents.

Manchester is the site for one of two graphene institutions in the UK as per my Jan. 14, 2013 posting titled, National Graphene Institute at the UK’s University of Manchester. The other is in Cambridge as per my Jan. 24, 2013 posting titled, Another day, another graphene centre in the UK as the Graphene flagship consortium’s countdown begins.

The latest item ‘graphene & UK’ (Manchester) item I’m featuring here is a May 12, 2014 news item on Azonano titled, ‘Graphene City’ Can be a Model for Commercialising Scientific Discoveries (Note: A link has been removed),

This is a blog [posting] by James Baker, Business Director for Graphene@Manchester. As the government announces further support for the UK’s emerging graphene industry, James Baker from the National Graphene Institute says the emerging concept of a ‘graphene city’ can be a UK model for commercialising new scientific discoveries.

After a few fits and starts, I traced the news item to a May 7, 2014 posting on the University of Manchester’s [Manchester] Policy Blogs: Science and Technology blog,

Announcing new investments into graphene commercialisation in March’s [2014] Budget, Chancellor George Osborne described the material as a “great British discovery that we should break the habit of a lifetime with and commercially develop in Britain”.

As the new business director for the National Graphene Institute (NGI), which has its new £61m building opening here at the University next year, I obviously couldn’t agree more.

I first came across graphene in my previous job at defence giant BAE Systems where I was in charge of technology collaboration programmes. We ran a number of ‘futures’ workshops where the aim was to get senior executives to think about how the wider world might look in 20 years time.

In defence there has been much debate about the need for a coherent defence industrial strategy to ensure we have the necessary skills and industrial capabilities for the future, and it was through these sessions that a wider dialogue around technologies such as graphene as a potential ‘disruptive’ capability started to emerge.

Whether it’s helping develop new lightweight components for aircraft or battery packs for soldiers, or developing flexible touch screens for the specialist gadget market, graphene has a vast array of potential uses.

My role is to sign up potential industrial partners who want to collaborate with The University of Manchester and take the graphene science to a higher maturity and onto commercialisation. We are looking for partners across a range of sectors who want to operate in this environment in an open, shared and collaborative way.

The vision of creating a ‘graphene city’ in the 21st century can be compared with Manchester in the 19th century when economic activity and innovation developed largely in the absence of the state.

If you are interested in graphene commercialization in the UK, this posting offers some insight into how at least one person involved in this process views the possibilities.

Historians of science get ready for ‘Knowledge at Work’

The theme for this year’s 24th International Congress of History of Science, Technology and Medicine is ‘Knowledge at Work’. According to Rebekah Higgitt’s Nov. 26, 2012 posting on the Guardian science blogs, the congress is on track to be the largest history of science conference ever held in the UK (Note: I have removed links),

This Friday [Nov. 30, 2012] sees the deadline for submissions to what will be the largest ever meeting of historians of science in the UK, and almost certainly the largest for at least a generation to come.

Last Friday already saw the closing date for organised symposiums within the International Congress of History of Science, Technology and Medicine, and the organisers tweeted:



#ichstm has just received its 1000th symposium paper abstract.

With the individual submissions still to come in, this promises to be huge for the history of science, which usually counts conference delegates in the 10s or 100s.

The 24th international congress will be held in Manchester, UK from Monday, July 22, 2013 – Sunday, July 28, 2013. Here’s more from the congress home page,

Welcome to the website for the 2013 International Congress, whose theme is Knowledge at Work.

The International Congress of History of Science, Technology and Medicine is the largest event in the field, and takes place every four years. Recent meetings have been held in Mexico City (2001), Beijing (2005) and Budapest (2009).

In 2013, the Congress will take place in Manchester, the chief city of Northwest England, and the original “shock city” of the Industrial Revolution. Congress facilities will be provided by The University of Manchester, with tours and displays on local scientific, technological and medical heritage co-ordinated by members of the University’s Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine.

Here’s some information about individual submissions from the Call for stand-alone papers webpage,

The theme of the 24th Congress is ‘Knowledge at work’. We construe this theme broadly, and encourage studies of the creation, dissemination and deployment of knowledge and practice across all periods, and from a variety of methodological and historiographical approaches. Possible areas of investigation may include, but are not limited to

  • case studies of knowledge-making and knowledge-use in particular scientific, technological and medical communities
  • the use and adaptation of scientific knowledge in the workplace, the home, and the wider world
  • how facts, and other knowledge-claims, travel between disciplines, countries and communities
  • relationships between those knowledge-making enterprises which are described as ‘science’ and those which are not, and the dynamics of the boundaries between them
  • definitions and meanings of ‘pure’, ‘fundamental’ and ‘applied’ research
  • how scientists, engineers and healthcare professionals (and their historical antecedents) work, and whom they work for
  • the status relations of knowledge and work, including the roles of ‘artists’, ‘artisans’, ‘professionals’, ‘amateurs’, ‘devotees’, ‘operatives’, ‘philosophers’, ‘adepts’, ‘scientists’ and ‘workers’
  • sites and geographies of knowledge-production and knowledge-exchange: laboratory, field, factory, hospital, ocean…
  • communication about science: forms and genres, advocacy and dissent, authorship and audience in print, manuscript, broadcasting, digital media and performance

Stand-alone submissions will normally be assembled thematically into groups of 4 presentations per 90-minute session. You should prepare a presentation of around 15 to 17 minutes’ duration, to be followed by 5 minutes of audience questions. Please plan carefully: the very high volume of activity at the Congress means it will be necessary to run strictly to time.

Most papers at the Congress are presented by sole authors. You may, however, submit a co-authored paper to be co-presented by two or, if necessary, three authors. All registered co-presenters should take an active role in delivering the paper.

If your research involves collaboration with colleagues who will not be attending the Congress, please do not list them as co-presenters (see “Attendance requirement”). Instead, please develop a solo paper based on the collaboration, crediting your colleagues as appropriate in your talk.


Papers may be presented in any of the following languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Chinese, Portuguese, Russian and Arabic.

For review and documentation purposes, we require titles and abstracts for all proposals to be submitted in either English or French. If you will be presenting in another language, please also supply an equivalent title and abstract in that language.

In addition to the standard tours and extras, Higgitt’s post mentions something you may consider to be an incentive to submit,

There will also be a “fringe” that will include films, music, theatre and performance, aimed at the public as well as delegates. Importantly, there will also be an entire pub, the Jabez Clegg, handed over for the conference, selling, I’ve been promised, unique and appropriately-named cask beers. (It helps that the Manchester department includes a postgrad with experience of organising beer festivals and a historian of brewing.)

Good luck with your submission!

Drawing pictures with your eyes at FutureEverything digital celebration

The title is meant literally, i.e., drawing pictures using your eyes only. What makes the feat even more extraordinary is that the designers hacked a Playstation 3 webcam to create the Eyewriter and (from the BBC article by Zoe Kleinman) “You could put it together at home without a soldering iron for about £30.”

The project won first prize at the FutureEverything festival in Manchester, England. From the BBC article,

Artists, musicians, engineers and hackers from around the world recently descended on Manchester for a three day celebration of digital culture.

Now in its 15th year, FutureEverything (previously called Futuresonic) has quietly established itself as an annual gathering for the technology avant garde.

With a £10,000 prize up for grabs for the best innovation, the stakes were high for the exhibitors at a local pop-up art gallery called The Hive.

The first prize went to Eyewriter, a team who developed a pair of glasses designed to track and record eye movement, enabling people to draw pictures using their eyes.

It was designed for Californian graffiti artist Tony Quan, who has ALS, a form of motor neurone disease. His eyes are the only part of his body that he can move.

Kleinman’s article features details about other projects that were shown at the festival as well as a video which features the artist, Tony Quan, putting the Eyewriter to the test, and an interview with the festival founder and organizer.

Something like the Eyewriter points to exciting possibilities for leveling the playground so everyone (no matter what physical limitations they may have) can participate. It also points to the benefits of hacking.