Monthly Archives: June 2014

Reliable Engineering Drives Scientific Breakthroughs

Reliable Engineering Drives Scientific Breakthroughs.

The scientific world has come a long way. From the first inquisitive minds drawing star charts and sun patterns, right through to the moment man landed on the moon, science has been finding new ways in which to take important measurements. As the various fields have grown, the precision and accuracy of modern scientific instruments have grown with them. As the theories and findings have become more complete, the precision needed to make that next breakthrough is more important than ever. In a world where the next advancement could be an atom wide, finding the right equipment has never been more important.

 

Science is Reliant on the Accuracy of Measurement

 

GalileoTo draw a line from the first scientific problems to the most modern concerns, one could just as well draw a line to illustrate the advancement of measurement and testing devices. In the city of Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance, there is a museum dedicated to the instruments and the tools which Galileo and his contemporaries used to invert the way in which those around them viewed the world. Walking through this gallery allows the visitor to witness the refinement and the increased care and attention which was poured into each ruler, beaker, and telescope.

Science in a Digital Age

 

While many of the greatest visionaries of the past were forced to crunch their own numbers, the development of computing machines allowed scientists the opportunity to take on larger projects in a shorter amount of time. Set to work, the early supercomputer could examine and analyse less than is capable by a modern smart phone. But their construction was not just about raw computing power, it was about accuracy. The ability to ensure accuracy to an ever smaller amount is one that allows technology, healthcare, geology and any other field of science to advance ever further.

But while computers have stolen the limelight in terms of much of the world of scientific equipment, there are still refinements and evolutions being made in the domain of modern instruments. Now more than ever before, our scientists have access to a world of equipment and instruments that are able to measure almost anything. While not as flash or as showy as their computer counterparts, much of what many laymen would consider ‘real science’ still happens in a lab coat, peering into a beaker for the smallest glimmer of a reaction. In circumstances such as these, it is vital that the instruments be of the highest possible quality.

 

Even Glass Vials Must Be Fit for Purpose

 

Glass Vials

Clear Borosilicate Type 1 Glass Injection Vial

It might not appear much, but the standard glass vial can be an incredibly complicated item in the scientific arsenal. For members of the public, one vial might look like any other. However, the differences are contained at a molecular level. The aim, typically, is to ensure that the glass is able to remain as objective as the observer. This means that the container will need to be as unreactive as possible. A USP Type I Borosilicate glass is the standard container, ensuring that there is the smallest possible chance of a reaction coming from any chemicals which might be inside. Soda-Lime glass is another option, but when using these vials the scientist must consider the pH level of the contents; anything above a pH level of 7 and the glass runs the risk of affecting the experiment. In order to make sure that as much is done as possible to find the real truth behind any theory or inquisition, one must make sure that the tools employed are offering the best possible help and are making sure that the results which emerge are in no way affected by the tools in the scientist’s employ.

 

Proven, Reliable & Accurate Equipment is Available

 

Bambi Oil Free Air CompressorThis is true of everything from Laboratory balances and air compressors, right through to the crimpers used to create the vial seals and the caps and seals which close them up. In every single instance, these tools and instruments must be accurate, they must be objective and they must be reliable at all times. In a field where being able to replicate the same conditions and the same results is absolutely essential, having the right equipment can make all of the difference.

In the world of modern science, where every single detail is more important than the last, the ability to ensure that the most modern and useful equipment is always being used is absolutely essential. For modern science, modern instruments allow future findings.

Laboratory Will Explore the ‘Final Frontier’

Laboratory Will Explore the ‘Final Frontier’.

The British Antarctic Survey have committed to making an amazing new ship, costing £200 million. This will be the next step in Britain’s continued exploration of the polar regions, allowing us cutting-edge research facilities to better explore the Antarctic and the seas, about which we still know so little.

 

Floating Laboratory to Explore Polar Regions

floating-lab-for-polar-region

£200 Million Floating Lab

The new ship will be one of the biggest, most well-equipped Arctic research vessels of its kind. Its ice-breaking capabilities will make it ideally suited for work in frozen seas, and its strength in this area will allow British researchers to head further into frozen areas than they can in any of the current fleet of two.

The two current ships on the British Antarctic Survey’s fleet are the RRS James Clark Ross, built in 1990 and the RRS Ernest Shackleton, built in 1995. While both ships have provided long and distinguished service, there is a real need for an up-to-date vessel with all the capabilities that modern scientific technology can bestow. Of great need to the fleet is a helideck, which is essential to the effective performance of research in an area renowned for its unforgiving landscape.

Laboratory SHip James Clark Ross

The RSS James Clark Ross

 

Technology Fuels Scientific Breakthroughs

It’s amazing that such research can be done so quickly now, with modern technologies allowing for a whole range of laboratory equipment that might only once have been dreamed of. The new ship is planned to be filled with the best modern technology can offer, including robotic submarine vessels and flying ‘drones’ – something that would be hard to imagine only years ago. These will allow the BAS to investigate areas previously unreachable, or too risky and expensive to investigate with older technologies.

While we have two ships already a part of the expedition, these were built many years ago, and scientific technology has leaped ahead since their construction. As our production techniques continue to improve, it’s ever-easier to do less with more, and to rely on the quality of equipment – fewer backups, less bulk, and better precision allow laboratories to use their space more effectively. There is less need to fill up the space with clunky equipment, spares, and the like, so the space can be used to carry more varied technology – these are vital considerations for something like a mobile, ship-based lab, where space is always at a premium!

The skills we have now for making effective, lightweight, and inexpensive equipment are highly developed, and the budget of £200 million will surely allow for the most effective, forward-thinking technologies to be used.

 

The Brits are Leading The Way

While the laboratory aboard the ship has not yet been specified, it will definitely contain some of the quality lab equipment that we’ve made our name manufacturing and stocking. As we know firsthand, modern laboratory equipment can’t be beaten for its quality, its reliability, and its ability to open whole new routes of research. The quality and precision by which modern lab equipment is made allows for ever-more-refined knowledge, and the materials we have available to us now allow us to make equipment that is sturdier than ever before – something that’s essential on the high seas. It’s fair to say that such a ship, and the laboratory it will contain, would not have been possible decades ago!

The British Antarctic Survey is one of the world’s leading scientific institutions, and has been performing research and surveying the Antarctic region for over half a century. They provide essential research into the environmental science of the region, which can frequently provide insight into the environment of the globe as a whole. It was the British Antarctic survey who first discovered the hole in the ozone, in 1985.

The BAS, with its bases in the region, also provides an important presence for Britain – as many of the rich natural resources in Antarctica are coveted by various nations, it’s important to maintain a role in the region. Britain’s long history of exploration, adventure, and research in the Antarctic has become the stuff of legend, and our continued involvement, whether under the British flag, or in international research, is a really important part of our continued scientific and geopolitical aims.

 

Untapped Resources and Scientific Breakthroughs

Such work is clearly essential not just for Britain, but for the scientific community as a whole. The ramifications of many of the scientific discoveries made in Antarctica are important for our scientific understanding of the whole world.

Adam_Equipment-Precision-Scales

Adam Equipment Precision Laboratory Scales

We can’t wait to see what such a large project will uncover – equipped with the very best in modern, accurate scientific laboratory equipment, along with other great elements of technology, the British Antarctic Survey are sure to uncover a wealth of new data regarding one of the most majestic regions of earth.

We know the precision of modern equipment, combined with Britain’s commitment to leading-edge scientific research, will help the scientific community to remain at the forefront of the fast-changing environmental and geological knowledge being unveiled every day in the region!

Matter Will Be Created From Light Within a Year, Claim Scientists

Matter Will Be Created From Light Within a Year, Claim Scientists

There are a few ideas out there that have fascinating scientists for millennia. Some of those bugbears have been somewhat disproved, even lowered to the level of pseudoscience; think of alchemy and time travel. As physics becomes enormously more sophisticated, however, some of these impossibilities have become possibilities again. One such fascination is the concept of creating matter out of light. A group of British scientists at the Imperial College London have just announced that this is exactly what they intend to do – before the end of the year.

 

Predicted 90 Years Ago…

Scientist Paul Dirac

British Physicist Paul Dirac

Considering the nature of the proposition, which sounds almost miraculous to the nonscientific, it is worth noting that it is a lot less fantastic an idea than one might imagine. In its essence, the creation of matter from light is an expression of the world’s most famous scientific equation, E=mc2. What’s more, a paper written in 1930 by Paul Dirac, a British theoretical physicist, described how photons, or light particles, could be created through the collision and annihilation (or combination) of physical matter in the form of an electron and a positron, its antimatter equivalent.

Even more encouragingly, American physicists Breit and Wheeler wrote in a 1934 paper that the converse must also be true, describing the process in a paper that was widely accepted by the scientific community. They warned, however, that it would be “hopeless to try to observe the pair formation in laboratory experiments”. This rather downbeat analysis was generally accepted, and there it was left for over half a century.

 

As Lab Equipment Develops, So Too Do the Possibilities

Today, it seems the long wait may be over. Science has changed beyond recognition in the interim, and so too has the equipment available to scientists. Modern day lab equipment is of a higher standard than ever before, and much of the advanced equipment available in many labs around the world would have been inconceivable in the time of Breit and Wheeler.

Amongst lab machines which are now relatively easy for physicists to gain access to are ‘hohlraums’. Named for the German word for ‘hollow room’, this machine takes the form of a hollow golden canister into which a high powered laser can be fired, creating a field of thermal radiation which creates light comparable to the light of stars. The device, upon which the new paper written at the Imperial College London relies, was discovered to be ideally suited for creating the sort of conditions that Breit and Wheeler thought were ‘hopeless’ back in 1934.

The plan is surprisingly simple. Breit and Wheeler had a key problem, namely that their theory was almost impossible to carry out in a measurable way. The collision and annihilation (combination) of two photons is the occurrence needed to produce matter, but this is an incredibly rare event and the small size of photons makes the likelihood of it less likely still. The experiment could be carried out thousands of times with no visible success, despite the theory being solid.

 

Ladies and gentlemen; The ‘Hollow Room’.

The hohlraum changes this. Oliver Pike, who led the study, praised the simplicity of the original 1934 theory and agreed that realising it in a laboratory was the problem. However, on examination of the hohlraum, his team discovered that it could produce a field of photons so dense that the likelihood of a collision if this was hit by another beam goes up enormously.

Big Bang

In the beginning…

The second ray of photons, as proposed by the paper, would be created by a high power laser which could be fired into a plate of gold, creating a dense gamma ray. This gamma ray would then be directed towards the hohlraum which, by means of another powerful laser, could be made to create a dense enough field of photons as to raise the likelihood of collisions occurring to the point where the experiment becomes truly viable.

This plan is one which they are optimistic about seeing through to gaining a set of results in the very near future. In fact, Pike along with Steven Rose, co-author of the paper, hope to be able to carry out the experiment which they have described ‘within a year’. This would be a huge moment for physics that, since its theoretical realisation in 1934, has remained one of the last pieces of the puzzle of light’s relationship with matter.

 

British Pioneering Science to Lead the Way?

It is also a coup for British science. Universities, laboratories and the wider industry have been under huge financial pressure as the UK has suffered a long recession followed by a period of government austerity measures. While the Chancellor, George Osborne, has said that British science is a priority for government, the scientific community are eager to prove that it really does pay to invest, and that investment in the best equipment and the latest technologies can yield ground breaking results.

As Pike commented, the ‘race is on’ to carry out the experiment. As far as British science is concerned, the prize for winning that race – a major ‘win’ for British science – is a doubly coveted one.