January / February 2003


Fuel for thought on cars of the future

A fuel cell combines oxygen from the air with hydrogen to produce electricity, heat, and water. Since the fuel is converted directly into electricity, a fuel cell can operate at much higher efficiencies than internal combustion engines, extracting more power in the form of electricity from the same amount of fuel. With no moving parts, it is a quiet and reliable source of power, offering long-term prospects in many industries, not least for cars of the future.


A click of the mouse... and then everything became clear

It's perhaps a trite introduction to quote Ecclesiastes' 'there is no new thing under the sun', but in some fields the new has so radically overturned the old that it's easy to forget the field's long ancestry. Image processing is a case in point. It's a quintessentially modern, high-profile computer application, so 'cutting-edge' that it could provide the central dramatic tension - the deconvolution of a blurred incriminating photograph - for the 1987 Kevin Costner film No Way Out (probably the only film to mention a Fourier transform by name).


Information overload

Across the science, biotech and pharmaceutical industries, managers and workers are finding themselves wading through what is rapidly becoming a torrent of information. Competition, scientific advances, regulation and computerisation have all played a part.

While Information Systems (IS) make it easier to manage the volume of data spawned as a result of regulatory and competitive pressures, they also make copious amounts of data available in quantities that many laboratories find difficult to manage.


It's about knowing whom to talk to

To most people, working out what happens when two black holes collide in space seems a strange thing to do for a living. What sounds like 'The Gods Playing Billiards' is an urgent and pressing task for Edward Seidel of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, Albert Einstein Institute, in Potsdam, Germany. As experimental astronomers around the world prepare to look for gravitational waves, his team is using numerical solutions to Einstein's equations of General Relativity to suggest what they should be looking for.