Chris Temple talks new technology

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Here’s the next instalment of Chris Temple’s blog about his work at Research Features. This time he’s talking about another passion of his – new technology.

I’ll be the first to put my hand up and admit that I’m a total tech nerd. I can’t live without my mobile – who can these days? Technology has been part of my life ever since I trained as a marine engineer, through my slightly less hands-on work with start-up companies, to now when remote working is the norm.

None of the opportunities in my life would have been available without people constantly pushing boundaries and asking, ‘What if?’. It’s incredible to see what other people’s brains come up with, and see new technologies that are coming out and changing the playing field almost every single day.

Take social media. As a parent I understand why it’s not always painted in the best light, but my view is it’s not good or bad: it’s a tool, it’s how you use it that matters. One article I was involved with at the end of last year shows this perfectly.

It explains how Tongans were particularly badly affected by COVID-19 travel restrictions. These Polynesian islanders are spread out all over the world so being able to see family is incredibly important to them. While they couldn’t travel, Tongans turned to Facebook to maintain their family ties, and even used a virtually coordinated campaign to get New Zealand to change its quarantine laws.

If that isn’t a story to warm your heart towards technology, I don’t know what is.

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Another thing that always blows me away is the sheer reach we have these days. I’ll never forget working with a US-based researcher on an article a few years back. I called her to talk about the article one day, not realising that she was on a cruise in the Caribbean!

If that had been me, I maybe wouldn’t have picked up the phone. But she did, and we spent an hour chatting about her work. It stuck in my mind so strongly because she was so excited to talk to me, even when she was floating around the tropics – and that’s what modern tech can do for us.

It’s not just the warm fuzzy feelings though, technology is driving change around the world at an unprecedented pace – one of the innovations being metal-organic frameworks, or MOFs.

Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are crystalline materials that have only emerged in the last 30 years. These frameworks can be chemically modified to act as a sort of ‘cage’ to separate out certain elements. This could be separating out elements that get used in fluorescent lamps, or enabling carbon dioxide sequestration – one of the ways people have talked about reducing emissions to fight climate change.

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The final thing I want to touch on is nano-technology in all its varieties – nanorobots, nanoparticles, nanomaterials… it’s being used to do everything from help treat cancer, to use in superconductors, to programmable matter – a science that’s still in its infancy.

This is what I love about reading each publication that comes out – there’s always something new that’s pushing the boundaries of what we thought we knew.

 

 

Here’s my pick of some intriguing tech projects the team have produced:

  • In light of the recent concerns over the cost of energy, research from Dr Dongdong Zhang from Guangxi University looks into the feasibility of smart energy systems – and how the power industry is fast-tracking development of flexible distribution.
  • This intriguing podcast featuring Fedor Galkin and Deepankar Nayak of DeepLongevity looks into leveraging AI to help you decrease your ‘biological age’ and be healthier overall.
  • If you ever worry about credit card fraud, maybe a biometric card would be just the ticket? Dr Laura Poe conducted a case study that showed promise, but issues with the tech.
  • And an animation about digital holography, from the Department of Electronics and Informatics at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels: think Star Wars and Princess Leia for this one!

 

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