We use cookies to ensure that our site works correctly and provides you with the best experience. If you continue using our site without changing your browser settings, we'll assume that you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use and how to manage them by reading our cookies policy. Hide

Current Issue

17th April 2015
Selected Chemistry & Industry magazine issue

Select an Issue

C&I Magazine

C&I e-books

C&I e-books

C&I apps

iOS App
Android App

  • Dancing with the budget

    Posted 23/03/2015 by sevans

    Dancing with the budget

    Dancing is good for you. But while this fact may seem fairly obvious for most of us, it seems that's not sufficient to satisfy researchers at the University of Brunel in the UK. Just days ahead of Wednesday's UK budget announcement by chancellor George Osborne, the university issued a press release calling on people to sign up to a two-hour ‘unique movement' workshop this weekend at Brunel's Antonin Artaud Theatre. According to the release, the workshop will be first ‘large-scale experiment' of an 18 month £250,000 taxpayer [the Economic and Social Research Council] funded study of the ‘benefits of dance' – also involving academics at University College London and Cambridge University, and performance artist Matthias Sperling.

    ‘This is an extremely unique project, which we hope will give us new insights into why people enjoy the performance arts and which may lead to new treatments for psychological issues such as obsessive compulsive disorder and autism,' says Brunel psychology lecturer Guido Orgs in a press statement.

    Granted, a quarter of a million pounds may seem a trifling amount of money when faced with the UK's projected borrowing for 2015 of £90.2bn, or at a time when national debt levels for 2014/15 stand at 80.4%. But do we really need to spend £250, 000 of taxpayers' money on a project to study the benefits of something that many of us do already for enjoyment? (Unless, that is, you happen to be really bad at it.)

    The problem is, of course, that the Brunel dance experiment is far from the only government funded project that might raise a sceptical eyebrow. We are bombarded daily with examples in the national press. According to Scienceogram UK website, meanwhile, the government spend on R&D is around £160 per person/year, which is less than 1.5% of total spending, and far smaller than the amount allocated for either benefits and healthcare.

    Surely, there is some sense in the old adage about looking after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves? Or, to quote supermarket giant Tesco, ‘every little helps'. The handing out of money for projects to study the apparently obvious doesn't just risk becoming a subject of public derision, but is a national scandal.

    As for myself, I am about to check out the Brunel workshop – apparently participants will be paid and anyone with a basic level of fitness can take part! Judging from the picture of George Osborne strutting his stuff on the front cover of The Sun newspaper, it looks like the chancellor could do with a few lessons too.

    Cath O'Driscoll – Deputy editor

    Read more... Comments (0)
  • A free curry Emma

    Posted 11/03/2015 by sevans
    In case you may have missed it, Sunday 8 March this week was International Women's Day (IWD), the day when apparently we are supposed to celebrate the achievements of women – 'while calling for equality', according to the organiser's website. So just how far has feminism come? Not quite as far as offering to foot the bill for a dinner date, if we are to believe the fuss surrounding actress Emma Watson's headline grabbing 'admission' in Monday's papers. Even with more than a few million sq... Read more... Comments (0)
  • Computer rage

    Posted 09/03/2015 by cgodfrey
    Have you ever felt like taking a hammer to your desktop computer or laptop? It might sound extreme to some, but you are among good company. A study as long ago as 2007 showed that 75% of office workers admitted to resorting to physical violence against their computer – one might assume that the remaining 25% only subjected their inanimate work mate to mental abuse. The other side of the coin is, of course, the increasing numbers of people, young and old, who are addicted to their computers... Read more... Comments (0)
  • Education for all

    Posted 18/02/2015 by sevans
    I almost didn't go. Day two of the AAAS conference in San Jose, CA, and still waking up at 3am in the morning with jet lag, I'd already saturated my grey matter through hours of high level discussions on everything from the future of the internet to autonomous cars, visualising chronic pain and e-cigarettes. The 5pm plenary lecture on 'The online revolution: learning without limits' was by Daphne Koller, someone I'd never heard off, and wouldn't end until 6. I'm so glad I went. Daphne Koller, i... Read more... Comments (0)
  • Pro-nuclear – or against?

    Posted 04/02/2015 by cgodfrey
    The House of Commons this week voted by 382 to 128 – a majority of 254 – to allow mitochondrial donation through a controversial amendment to the 2008 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. The regulations, which are likely also to be approved in the House of Lords, put the UK firmly on course to become the first country in the world to allow the creation of so-called ‘three-parent babies’. The first baby with DNA from three people could be born as early as 2016. Along ... Read more... Comments (0)
  • Suffering rejection

    Posted 30/01/2015 by sevans
    Ever wondered what happens when you drop some ideas into your company’s suggestion box? Do they disappear into that waste paper mountain or are they considered carefully for their potential by the management? If they do take the time to read your thoughts – and they like what they see – do you ever hear anything in response? And if you do hear back, does it encourage further thinking or just stop the creative juices, or even redirect them to something else more personal? Well,... Read more... Comments (0)
  • Milking it

    Posted 21/01/2015 by cgodfrey
    How much for a price of milk? It’s the standard question used to sound out whether an MP is or is not ‘in touch’ with his or her constituents. At just 20 pence per litre from some retailers, however, the cost of a pint of milk now falls far short of the actual cost of production. It is a price that is simply not sustainable and is forcing farmers out of business every week, according to the UK’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee. In December 2014, the Nation... Read more... Comments (0)
  • Lest we forget

    Posted 10/12/2014 by sevans
    One hundred years after the outbreak of World War 1, while the ceramic poppies have been disappearing from the moat of the Tower of London, the flower that has come to symbolise the lives lost in conflict is also disappearing from the former battle fields of northern France and Belgian Flanders. Research has found that overall plant biodiversity in the region has increased during the past 100 years; but this rise in the number of plant species is not good news. The findings highlight increasing... Read more... Comments (0)
  • Power of spit

    Posted 03/12/2014 by sevans
    Outrage seems to be the general reaction surrounding the UK launch this week of a new genetic testing kit by US biotech 23andMe. For a mere £125, the firm's DNA 'spit' test kit promises to provide information on any of 100 genetic conditions – including personal predisposition to Alzheimer's, cancer, CF and Parkinson's – along with a welter of data on whether you like sprouts, how closely you may be related to the Neanderthals, if you are a fast runner – and even your ris... Read more... Comments (0)
  • Diagnostics and defence

    Posted 19/11/2014 by cgodfrey
    Keeping your enemy in the dark about your military capabilities is one of the most basic rules of modern warfare. In the continuing war on antibiotic resistance, however, there is no choice but to use antibiotics to vanquish the infections that the bacteria cause. Read more... Comments (0)
View more

Join SCI

Twitter Facebook

Subscribe to C&I Newsletter

Blogs Archive