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IL Y AURA UN QUIZ SUR LE VOCABULAIRE. March 21, 2010 Women in science: Pioneers blaze path for others By Rachel Shields The Royal Society has named its top 10 female scientists, yet many still feel marginalised
They have mapped the infinity of space, developed spray-on skin for burns victims, pioneered cancer-beating therapies, created cutting-edge computer chips, discovered the first radio pulsars, and won Nobel prizes. But female science professors are still being asked to make the tea and take notes at meetings by their - often junior - male colleagues. Sexism remains all too prevalent in Britain's scientific community, according to some of its leading figures, even as The Royal Society unveils a list of the 10 greatest women scientists in British history. Women scientists this weekend called for government funding to be ring-fenced for projects headed by women, and men who are principal child carers, to help them get ahead in what remains a male-dominated profession. "If you are on high-level committees, you'll be asked to make the tea," said Professor Athene Donald, the deputy head of physics at Cambridge University. "Recently, on a committee, the chairman thought I was the secretary. And I've been in committees where we've been addressed as "gentlemen", despite the fact that there are women there. It is very off-putting."
Baroness Greenfield, who is suing the Royal Institution after it ousted her as its director in January, has criticised the Government for failing to provide enough financial support for women trying to make a career in the sector. "However much people support and encourage women, it has got to be backed by resources. The Government has never really delivered that," said Lady Greenfield. "I hope that the election campaign addresses this. What is needed is about £50,000 a year per woman, and then add the cost of equipment, and you are looking at £200,000 for one person. Science research is expensive." Lady Greenfield also argues that the insecure nature of science research puts women at a disadvantage: most scientists have to make do with temporary research contracts until they secure a fixed position in their thirties and forties; maternity leave provision is limited; and, for those in cutting-edge research, a career break at that stage can leave them way behind their male peers. "Many people won't have security of tenure until they are in their thirties. It is one of the few employment cultures with no security," she said.
It is thought that the subject's "nerdy" image puts girls off studying science beyond GCSE, and the sector also struggles to retain female graduates, with more than 70 per cent of women science graduates deciding on non-science related careers. One of the aims of the Government's 10-year strategy on science and technology, launched in 2004, was to encourage more women into the sectors. "The science and technology professions have been built by men, for men," said Annette Williams, the director of the UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology. The centre was established in 2004 to address the gender imbalance by using mentoring, training and networking. "Often, women can find the climate quite hostile. And science and technology are so male-dominated that they are behind other sectors in terms of things like flexible working," said Ms Williams.
The Royal Society, which did not allow female fellows to join until 1945, is using its 350th anniversary year to highlight the work of women scientists, such as Rosalind Franklin, whose work on DNA led directly to the discovery of the structure of the DNA molecule, and Dorothy Hodgkin, a Nobel prize-winner for chemistry. Despite the negative experiences of many female scientists, some believe that the situation is improving. "The number of women science professors rose from 8 per cent of the total in 2004 to 11 per cent now. I think we had something to do with that," said Ms Williams. While women may be under-represented in science, few are in favour of "quotas" of jobs being reserved for women. "Affirmative action can be very damaging. Women don't want to be appointed because they are women, they want to be appointed because they are good," said Professor Donald. "But if you advertise a job, you should have a proper search, and encourage women to come forward, not just appoint someone you know."
The Royal Society Top 10
1. Caroline Herschel (1750-1848)
As an assistant to her brother, a royal astronomer, Herschel discovered eight comets and catalogued star clusters. She was the first woman scientist to receive a salary and was awarded many honours.
2. Mary Somerville (1780-1872)
The Scottish scientist was only the second woman to receive recognition in the UK for her scientific experiments, which were on magnetism. Her popular renditions of the French astronomer Laplace's book Traité de Mécanique Céleste made her famous.
3. Mary Anning (1799-1847)
The daughter of poor Dis- senters, the palaeontologist made a number of important finds in Lyme Regis, including the first correctly identified ichthyosaur skeleton and the first two plesiosaur skeletons ever found. She also discovered important fish fossils.
4. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836-1917)
Denied entry to medical school, Garrett Anderson instead passed the Society of Apothecaries examination to become the first English female doctor. She founded the New Hospital for Women in London and was influential in the passing of an Act permitting women to enter the medical profession in 1876.
5. Hertha Ayrton (1854-1923)
Working with her husband, Professor William Ayrton, Ayrton published several papers on the electric arc. In 1902 she became the first woman to be nominated as a fellow of the Royal Society, although as a married woman she could not accept.
6. Kathleen Lonsdale (1903-1971)
A pioneer of X-ray crystallography - the study of molecule shapes - in 1945 she and Marjory Stephenson were the first women to be admitted as fellows to the Royal Society. She was the first female professor at University College London, and the first woman to be president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.
7. Elsie Widdowson (1908-2000)
Her work with Professor R A McCance revolutionised the way the world assessed nutritional values and how mammalian development was perceived. She worked on nutritional problems during the Second World War, and on treating the effects of starvation suffered by concentration camp victims.
8. Dorothy Hodgkin (1910-1994)
Hodgkin discovered the structure of penicillin and of vitamin B12. She was awarded the Nobel prize for her work, and was made a member of the Order of Merit. She devoted much of her later life to championing scientists in developing countries.
9. Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958)
Her work on the X-ray diffraction images of DNA was used to formulate Crick and Watson's 1953 hypothesis of the structure of DNA. She led the pioneering work on the tobacco mosaic and polio viruses.
10. Anne McLaren (1927-2007)
McLaren produced the first litter of mice grown from eggs that had been developed in tissue culture and transferred to a surrogate mother, paving the way for human in vitro fertilisation.
Today's Trail Blazers
1. Susan Greenfield Professor of pharmacology, University of Oxford
"People don't sell science to young people, and especially to girls, as well as they might. It takes time and resources to send people into schools. Doing that sort of thing is regarded very badly in the scientific community, it is seen as 'dumbing down'."
2. Patricia Fara Director of studies, history and philosophy of science, Cambridge University
"Younger women believe there is no discrimination against women in science, but I think that is optimistic. Women are squeezed out of exciting research projects. It certainly isn't a level playing field, you just have to look at the statistics. It is tough for women."
"Even now women in science are rather invisible. It is a cultural thing. When people talk about Newton and Darwin, we want them to remember the women who did amazing things, too."
4. Uta Frith Emeritus professor of cognitive development, University of London
"We still have a long way to go. Women had a late start in the profession. I'm privileged to be one of the few women recognised in science, but there are so many talented women who will do great things."
5. Sunetra Gupta Professor of theoretical epidemiology, Oxford University
"It is only since I undertook to write a children's book on women scientists that I have come to know their lives in any detail - which is embarrassing, but also makes me realise how much of a need there is for the book."
6. Maggie Aderin-Pocock Royal Society university research fellow and a space scientist for Astrium Ltd
"My career has been great up until now, but I'm due to give birth to my first child in three weeks time, so that might pose more of a problem. Career breaks are a problem in science, as you aren't keeping up with the cutting-edge research."
7. Athene Donald Deputy head, department of physics, Cambridge University
"There is an unconscious bias. The number of women science professors is only about 11 per cent. It is improving, pathetically slowly. I think the Royal Society is working really hard over the gender issue. That they put their hands up and say 'mea culpa' is a positive message."
8. Helen Mason Solar physicist, Cambridge University
"Research grants have been cut and universities are suffering financially; people are being made redundant. My fear is that the young women scientists will be hit hardest by this. Indeed, I know that this is happening, and I feel powerless to stop it."
9. Ottoline Leyser Professor of biology, University of York
"The list highlights how tremendously recent it has been that we've had the equality we are now enjoying, and how frustrating it is that things are not moving faster."
10. Nancy Rothwell MRC research professor, University of Manchester
"I'm often asked how I manage in a male dominated profession. I just don't recognise this description. I have experienced nothing but support from all my male colleagues."
Tech.viewMother of invention Aug 3rd 2007 From Economist.com Why is Japan the source of so many bright ideas?
WHEN it comes to being awarded patents, the Japanese are world champions. Japan has more than 1,200 patents per million people—more than twice as many as Switzerland, the next most prolific country (with 500 patents per million), and more than three times as many as third-ranking America (with 350 patents per million). Does that make Japan the most innovative country in the world? Difficult to say. But something rather exceptional is at work in Japan that encourages its scientists, engineers, workers and even housewives to seek fame and fortune by patenting their brainwaves. There’s a problem, of course, with using patents as an index of national performance. Patents are awarded for something that is novel, useful and non-obvious. As such, they measure success in discovering or inventing new things. They do not measure innovation, nor the economic activity that ensues. In the grand scheme of things, inventions are the easy part. Turning inventions or discoveries into innovations—ie, products and processes that enrich our lives or improve our well-being—is a vastly more demanding business.
Inventions and discoveries are made in the lab or on the kitchen table by a handful of individuals. By contrast, innovations absorb the energies and fortunes of large corporate teams and can take years to bring to fruition. An invention that cost $1,000 to conceive can easily cost $10m to turn into a successful innovation. Even so, with nothing better at hand, patents are often used as a proxy for innovation. And Japan’s high patenting performance says much about the country’s instincts for innovation. However, Japanese patents tell a mixed story. As noted in our “At a glance” feature on inventiveness, published on Economist.com on July 30th there’s a lot of multiple-counting in Japanese patent figures. The reasons are as much cultural as historical.
Although Japan is not a particularly litigious society, Japanese courts are more preoccupied with the letter than the spirit of the law, and can be extraordinarily pernickety when cases do go to trial. Until recently, when Japan’s patent standards began to converge with American and European ones, that forced Japanese patent examiners to adopt a far more atomistic view of what constitutes a patentable invention. Thus, were a bicycle to be patented in Japan, it could not be defined simply as a human-powered, two-wheeled vehicle, but would have to be considered as a family of patents covering the frame, wheels, crank, pedals, handlebars and saddle. But even after discounting for the Japan Patent Office’s multiple-counting, Japan still patents way over its weight. What was not mentioned in “At a glance” was that the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) white paper it was based on (which, in the interest of full disclosure, your columnist had a hand in writing) handicapped Japan by discarding one-third of its patents from the start. And still it came out top. Also left unsaid—and most intriguing of all—was that Japan achieves its stellar performance with rather mediocre inputs.
The EIU study created four indices for each of the 82 countries examined. Apart from the innovation index based on patents granted, two further indices ranked each country’s direct drivers of innovation (national research effort, education standards, technical skills, broadband penetration, etc) as well as those indirect environmental factors considered conducive for innovation (such as rule of law, tax regime, economic stability, labour flexibility and patent protection). Finally, an aggregate enabling index was created from a 70/30 weighting of the direct and indirect drivers. Despite having one of the best-educated workforces in the world, superb IT infrastructure, a well-oiled administration, good rule of law and protection of intellectual property, Japan ranks a lowly 14th in terms of its enablers for innovation. So, why does the country perform so well on the output side of the innovation equation, despite having such feeble drivers on the input side?
No one really knows. You can make educated guesses. The concentration of talent in manufacturing. The pursuit of excellence. The ferocious rivalry between Japan’s large electronics firms. The lingering relic of the country’s post-war catch-up mentality. Fears of economic isolation given the expansion of the European Union and the emergence of the North American Free-Trade Area. Anxiety about a rapidly ageing society facing a formidable pensions and health-care crisis.
All this may or may not play a part. But beyond the more obvious economic imperatives lie certain social factors that appear to be at work as well. In the early 1980s the Hakuhodo Institute of Life and Living (HILL) in Tokyo sought to capture the spirit of the times by looking at Japanese society through a prism of hitonami—a national tendency of wanting to be like others.
HILL argued that the old feudal habit of watching neighbours closely to see what behaviour the local war lord condoned or forbade had served modern society well. In particular, it helped explain why Japanese consumers had traditionally been quick to embrace new products. In certain ways, the customers were being even more innovative than the suppliers.
Back in Japan for his biannual pilgrimage, your columnist is beginning to feel that this tendency may explain much of the country’s natural talent for innovation. Certainly, coming up with bright ideas for future products involves a lot of informal and subjective “tacit” knowledge as well as documented “explicit” know-how. The accumulation and sharing of this tacit understanding (which is largely impossible to record) is what makes Japan tick. You only have to go into a Japanese pub in the evening to hear animated businessmen carrying on their after-hours office discussions. Perhaps it is the birru, jizake and shochu that are the real tonics for innovation.
US, EU, Japan fight China on rare earths
By Leslie Hook in Beijing, Joshua Chaffin in Brussels and Alan Beattie in Washington FINANCIAL TIMES Last updated: March 13, 2012 1:33 pm
The US, European Union and Japan have teamed up to bring a rare joint case at the World Trade Organisation against China over its export controls on rare earths.
US president Barack Obama was expected to announce the action later on Tuesday. But speaking in Brussels, Karel De Gucht, the EU trade commissioner, said Chinese restrictions on exporting the metals – 17 elements used to manufacture a wide range of items, from weapons to BlackBerrys – were hurting European manufacturers and “must be removed”.
China produces more than 90 per cent of the world’s rare earths. Its stranglehold on global supplies caused alarm in 2010 when it temporarily halted exports to Japan after a diplomatic dispute.
Beijing on Tuesday rejected the claims by the US, EU and Japan, saying China would “continue to implement effective management of rare earths exports in accordance with WTO regulations”. The foreign ministry said China hoped that “other countries with rare earths will also actively develop their rare earths resources to share the burden of global rare earths supply”.
In more pointed comments, Xinhua, the state press agency, said the move was “rash and unfair”, adding that it “may hurt economic relations between the world’s largest and second-largest economies”.
“A better choice for the United States would be sitting down with China face to face and solve the problem through negotiations instead of making it an internationalised issue,” Xinhua said in an opinion piece.
China explains its export restrictions as part of a domestic crackdown on illegal rare earths mines. To help clean up the industry, Beijing has tightened controls on domestic mining and announced a production cap, although enforcement of these measures varies from province to province.
Mr De Gucht expressed frustration that China had not addressed concerns about its rare earths policy after losing a recent WTO case on raw materials. That dispute was considered a litmus test for how the trade body might approach a case over rare earths.
“This leaves us no choice but to challenge China’s export regime again,” he said.
Ahead of the formal announcement by Mr Obama, Ron Kirk, US trade representative, said China continued to “make its export restraints more restrictive, resulting in massive distortions and harmful disruptions in supply chains for these materials throughout the global marketplace”.
The US administration has been criticised by Republicans, including Mitt Romney, the frontrunner for the party’s presidential nomination, for being insufficiently tough on China’s trade and currency policies. The White House counters that it has brought WTO cases against Beijing at nearly twice the rate of the administration of George W. Bush.
Last week, the White House unveiled a “trade enforcement unit” – a joint operation between different government agencies including the trade representative’s office and the commerce department, aimed at strengthening the US’s ability to bring and defend cases against its major trading partners.
Congress, with the strong support of the Obama administration, recently passed a law to allow the US to continue to impose two kinds of defensive tariff simultaneously on imports from China and Vietnam – a practice that had been challenged by a federal court.
EU officials estimate that the Chinese restrictions force European manufacturers to pay double the price of their Chinese competitors for rare earths.
The trade dispute comes at an awkward time in EU-China relations. Brussels has been seeking to persuade Beijing to deploy some of its vast foreign currency reserves to help ease the eurozone’s debt crisis.
So far, those pleas have brought public expressions of support, but only modest purchases of European bonds, according to EU officials.
In recent years, China has lowered the export quotas for rare earths causing Tokyo, Washington and Brussels to lobby Beijing to loosen its controls on these critical elements. Last year, China’s export quota was 30,184 tonnes, down 40 per cent from 49,510 tonnes in 2009. This year’s quota will be in line with last year’s, according to the commerce ministry.
The price of rare earths in China skyrocketed last year as Chinese traders started stockpiling and state-owned mining groups began building rare earths reserves, although prices have since come down due to weak global demand.
Influential modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer dies aged 104
He was a towering patriarch of modern architecture who shaped the look of contemporary Brazil
Nick Clark Thursday 06 December 2012 The Independent
Oscar Niemeyer, one of the 20 century’s most influential modernist architects, has died at the age of 104.
Niemeyer’s work, famous for its sweeping curves and space-age look, was inspired by the landscape of his native Brazil and the women who sunbathed on its beaches.
The architect, who had been working right until the end, died on Wednesday at the Hospital Samaritano in Rio de Janeiro following a respiratory infection.
A memorial service was held yesterday at the presidential palace in Brasilia, while the mayor of his home city Rio de Janeiro declared three days mourning.
Niemeyer won a string of awards including the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1988 and the Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) in 1998.
Tony Chapman, head of awards at Riba, said the Brazilian had created “a heritage. He had a huge influence, not all of it direct.”
When the Government decided to move the capital on Brazil’s central high plains from Rio de Janeiro in the 1950s, Niemeyer planned a series of buildings for the city. Brasilia was declared a World Heritage Landmark by Unesco in 1987.
In describing his architectural style, he wrote in his 1998 memoir The Curves of Time: “I am not attracted to straight angles or to the straight line, hard and inflexible, created by man. I am attracted to free-flowing, sensual curves.”
He continued: “The curve I find in the mountains of my country, in the sinuousness of its rivers, in the waves of the ocean, and on the body of the beloved woman. Curves make up the entire universe, the curved universe of Einstein,” he said.
Chapman said Niemeyer’s influence could be seen in Zaha Hadid’s work “although she may not agree” adding there was elements of influence on David Chipperfield and Frank Gehry.
Metropolitan Cathedral in Brasilia
One of Niemeyer’s best known buildings is the Cathedral, with its “Crown of Thorns” cupola. The building, whose cornerstone was laid in 1958, was not completed until 1970. It has 16 poured concrete pillars with glass in between. Inside sculptures of angels are suspended over the nave with steel cables, while the altar was donated by Pope Paul VI.
The building, which won him the 1988 Pritzker Architecture Prize, is estimated to have close to 1 million visitors a year, the most visited tourist attraction in Brasilia. Tony Chapman, head of awards at Riba, called it an “extraordinary” building.
The Niteroi Museum of Contemporary Art
The flying saucer-shaped museum in Rio de Janeiro, which was completed in 1996, has stunning views over Guanabara Bay and Sugarloaf Mountain. Niemeyer worked with structural engineer Bruno Contarini to make the 16m high building, with a cupola 50m in diameter. His vision for the museum, originally sketched out on a restaurant tablecloth, was one of “rising upward, like a flower, or a bird.”
Mr Chapman said: “The museum does look like it was dropped from outer space.” While he does not rate the building as one of Niemeyer’s finest, he added: “It is in the most stunning location. The setting and the approach to the building are very dramatic.”
Palacio da Alvorada
The official residence of the president of Brazil sits by the banks of Lago Paranoa. The name Palacio da Alvorada is translated as Palace of Dawn, a quote from Juscelino Kubitschek, then president of Brazil: “What is Brasilia, if not the dawn of a new day for Brazil.” It was the first government building constructed in the city, completed in 1958. Mr Chapman hailed Niemeyer’s “origami style” and said the Palace was “quite incredible, the supports are so delicate and graceful.” The palace was restored to its original splendour in 2004, in a two year project that cost $18.4m.
French Communist party building in Paris
Niemeyer, who was a communist, left Brazil in 1964 following a military coup and opened an office in Paris. From his office on the Champs-Elysees, he developed the headquarters of the French Communist Party. The undulating building was constructed between 1967 and 1972 in the 19 arrondissement. Mr Chapman said: “You have to go inside to really appreciate the building. Unlike many of his buildings in Brasilia, this one is completely unchanged. It’s like stepping back in time.”
The architect waived his fee for the project, and he also designed the headquarters of the communist party newspaper L’Humanite in St Denis.
Ministry of Justice
At the north of the Esplanada of ministries sits the Palacio da Justica, was designed in 1957 and completed in 1963. Mr Chapman picked it out as one of his favourite of Niemeyer’s buildings in Brasilia, with its “wonderful design projecting watershoots, and the novel landscaping.” Water cascades out of the façade and into the pools below. The aquatic garden at the front of the building was created by Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx. The palace was named after writer and former president of the Brazilian Bar Association Jose Bonifacio in 2006.
Libraries to store all UK web content
By David Sillito Arts Correspondent 5 April 2013 Last updated at 00:30 GMT BBC web site
Online content on platforms such as Twitter will be stored
Millions of tweets, Facebook status updates and even a blog about a bus shelter in Shetland are to be preserved for the nation.
The British Library and four other "legal deposit libraries'" have the right to collect and store everything that is published online in the UK.
It is estimated around a billion pages a year will be available for research.
It follows 10 years of planning and will also offer visitors access to material currently behind paywalls.
The other institutions involved are the National Libraries of Scotland and Wales, the Bodleian Libraries in Oxford, the University Library, Cambridge and the Library of Trinity College, Dublin.
The archive will cover 4.8 million websites and will include magazines, books and academic journals as well as alternative sources of literature, news and comment such as Mumsnet, the Beano online, Stephen Hawking's website, and the unofficial armed forces' bulletin board, ARRSE.
Ben Sanderson from the British Library said while people may think information on the web lasts forever, huge amounts of research material has already disappeared.
He added the public had already "lost a lot of the material that was posted by the public during the 7/7 bombings".
MP's blog sites have also been lost following a death or an election defeat.
Top 100 websites
Mr Sanderson explained that with much of public life having migrated to the online world, material that is now published physically gives only a part of the story and debate within modern Britain.
He said: "It will be impossible to tell for instance the story of the 2015 general election without accessing what appears on the web".
The new databases will cover all areas of interest, for example the website Style Scout - a fashion blog documenting London Street Fashion - will give historians a snapshot of what people were wearing in 2013.
As part of the launch of the process, the British Library has commissioned a survey of the top 100 websites that ought to be preserved for historians and researchers.
Among the sites recommended to keep material from are eBay, Facebook, Twitter, Tripadvisor and Rightmove.
Some other lesser known ones include the Anarchist Federation, the Dracula Society and The Dreamcast Junkyard - a blog dedicated to the community of gamers who continue to play Dreamcast games online, despite the fact they were officially discontinued in 2002.
The British Library is also asking for advice from the public as to which websites should be preserved to give an accurate picture to future generations.
$1bn gift of cubist art to transform New York's Met
Cosmetics heir and heavy-weight philanthropist Leonard A Lauder has donated 78 pieces to the museum
David Usborne The Independent New York Wednesday 10 April 2013
Privileged residents of New York City – and the tourists who besiege it – will soon have a significant new present to unwrap, namely a billion-dollar trove of paintings from the Cubist era donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art by the cosmetics heir and heavy-weight philanthropist Leonard A Lauder.
It might be hard to imagine an institution such as the Met, the largest art museum in the western hemisphere, being transformed by a single gift. Yet that will be the impact of the shipments that have already started to arrive from the private vaults of Mr Lauder. In all, he has promised to hand over 78 Cubist pieces to the museum, including 33 works by Pablo Picasso and 17 by Georges Braques.
The collection, valued by Forbes at over $1bn, which will go on show for the first time in autumn 2014, is “unsurpassed in the number of masterpieces and iconic works critical to the development of Cubism”, the museum said. The gift is sparking particular curatorial delight because Cubism, which ushered in the wider period of abstract painting, has until now been underrepresented on the Met’s walls.
“This is a gift to the people who live and work in New York, and those from around the world who come to visit our great arts institutions,” Mr Lauder, who is also funding a research institute into modern art at the Met, said in a brief news release.
The acquisition is also a major catch for the director of the Met, Thomas Campbell, who is English. Mr Lauder – whose younger brother Ronald Lauder is also a renowned collector and the founder of the Neue Galerie on New York City’s Upper East Side, devoted to Austrian and German work including some notable pieces by Gustav Klimt – had been mulling over where to send his collection for years.
“This is an extraordinary gift to our museum and our city,” Mr Campbell, who lived in Cambridge before moving to America, noted. He acknowledged that the institution he took over in 2008 had “long lacked this critical dimension in the story of modernism”.
With the Lauder paintings, it may now eclipse the Cubist collections of the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art also in New York.
“Now, Cubism will be represented with some of its greatest masterpieces, demonstrating both its role as the ground-breaking movement of the 20th century and the foundation for an artistic dialogue that continues today,” Mr Campbell said.
“In one fell swoop this puts the Met at the forefront of early-20th-century art… It is an un-reproducible collection, something museum directors only dream about.”
Highlights in the collection include Picasso’s Woman in an Armchair (Eva), (1913), featuring an erotic rendering of the painter’s mistress Eva Gouel, and The Oil Mill (1909). There are works also from the very beginnings of the European Cubist movement, including Trees at L’Estaque by Braque as well as Terrace at the Hotel Mistral, L’Estaque (1907) by the same painter.
That Mr Lauder chose the Met over other museums is not surprising, given that New York is his home. He has long sat on a number of committees at the Met, though he is better known as the one-time chairman of the Whitney Museum of American Art.
“Whenever I’ve given something to a museum, I’ve wanted it to be transformative,” Mr Lauder told The New York Times. “This wasn’t a bidding war. I went knocking, and the door opened easily.”
New documentary brings Norman Foster to the big screen
Saturday 20 February 2010 The Independent
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British arts consultancy Art Commissioners has premiered
How much does your building weigh, Mr. Foster? at the Berlin Film Festival, aiming to excite far more than "just" the design buffs.
"It also speaks to the specialists and the priesthood of design, but it's not just for them," producers Elena Ochoa and Antonio Sanz said of their documentary. "It speaks to everybody who has ever been excited by a work of art, or who has understood that some spaces have special qualities that others do not share.
"It's for everybody who has been excited by the daring of a bridge, jutting out into space, or by the spectacle of a skyscraper that can define the identity of a city."
The film follows British architect Norman Foster, the creator of the Beijing airport, the Berlin Reichstag, the New York Hearst building and the world's tallest vehicular bridge, the Millau Viaduct in France, documenting his work in a cinematic style.
"It tells the story through images. Key projects are filmed in detail, conveying the movement of sunshine across the atrium of the Hearst Tower, the exhilaration of crossing the heights over the Pont Millau through early morning mist, [...] or how the restoration of the German parliament becomes the symbol of a reunified nation. The experience of moving through each of these spaces shows what makes them special," the producers said.
How much does your building weigh, Mr. Foster? is the first feature film dealing with the architect and will be the beginning of a series of films on art and culture personalities by Art Commissioners.
Clips of the movie can be watched at here, here, and here.
Oxford Catalysts plans waste-fed factory
By Peter Marsh March 26, 2013 8:24 pm Financial Times
A new manufacturing era, in which small plants produce oil and plastics from waste materials, is about to dawn in the UK, according to Oxford Catalysts, the chemicals technology group.
In announcing the company’s 2012 results, chief executive Roy Lipski said he hoped to finalise at least one contract for the building of a $250m “commercial-sized” plant – capable of making up to 120,000 tonnes of oil or plastics a year from waste streams – in the next nine months.
Oxford Catalysts is among the leaders in a clutch of businesses trying to find a way to convert relatively low-value carbon-containing materials into higher-value diesel, jet fuel or industrial chemicals.
Its technology works by using such substances as rotting vegetables and household waste as source materials, or flare gas from oilfields that would normally be wasted.
These ideas have already excited interest both in the energy industry, and in chemicals manufacturing.
In the second of these areas, Mr Lipski said his company’s technology could assist in parts of the world that are distant from conventional chemical feedstocks.
“It’s possible to envisage ways of using our technology in small distributed plants that, by forming a source of materials for other factories fairly close by, could help to shorten manufacturing supply chains,” said Mr Lipski.
One of the companies evaluating such ideas is Calumet, a US maker of speciality chemicals that is trying out some of Oxford Catalysts’ technology.
Calumet is among a number of possible candidates for announcing the construction of a full-scale production venture by the end of 2013.
The latest news and analysis on the world’s changing climate and the political moves afoot to tackle the problem.
Formed in 2006, Oxford Catalysts raised £30m this year in investments to further its technology, and has so far failed to make a profit – with Mr Lipski refusing to disclose when this might happen.
He was speaking after the company announced that its losses, adjusted for depreciated, amortisation and related payments, rose 2 per cent in the year to December 31 2012 to £7.9m, after £7.7m the year before.
However, the company made progress in pushing up revenues 61 per cent to £7.6m in 2012, from £4.7m in the previous 12 months. The loss per share was flat at 11.5p (11.4p).
Oxford Catalysts will soon take on the name of Velocys, a subsidiary business. Between them Oxford Catalysts and Velocys – which has its headquarters in the US and was bought in 2008 – have spent about $300m on developing technical ideas over 15 years.
German ships blaze Arctic trail
Two German merchant ships are sailing from Asia to Europe via Russia's Arctic coast, having negotiated the once impassable North East Passage.
This route is usually frozen but rising temperatures in the region caused by global warming have melted much of the ice allowing large ships to go through. The North East passage has tempted mariners for hundreds of years.
In 1553 the British voyager Sir Hugh Willoughby died attempting to find the route.
The German ships Beluga Fraternity and Beluga Foresight arrived in the Siberian port of Yamburg, in the Ob river delta, on Monday, owner Beluga Shipping GmbH said on its website.
Both ships left South Korea in late July, negotiating the passage off north-eastern Siberia behind two Russian icebreakers.
"We are all very proud and delighted to be the first Western shipping company which has successfully transited the legendary North East Passage and delivered the sensitive cargo safely through this extraordinarily demanding sea area", said Beluga CEO Niels Stolberg.
The ships have been offloading some of their cargo. Beluga spokeswoman Verena Beckhusen told AP that the Beluga Fraternity had already left to continue its journey via Murmansk to the Dutch port of Rotterdam.
The Foresight's departure has been postponed until Saturday because of bad weather, she added.
But the once impenetrable ice that prevented ships travelling along the northern Russian coast has been retreating rapidly because of global warming in recent decades.
The passage became passable without ice breakers in 2005.
By avoiding the Suez canal, the trip from Asia to Europe is shortened by almost 5,000km (3,100 miles).
The company behind the enterprise says it is saving about $300,000 per vessel by using the northern route.
Both the Russian authorities and the German shippers are keen to prove the safety and efficiency of the passage, believing it could be a valuable commercial alternative to the Suez canal in summer.
Despite the rise in temperatures the route is still dangerous, with icebergs moving more freely in the warmer waters.
Scientists estimate that the last time that the North East Passage was as ice free as it is now was between 5,000 and 7,000 years ago.
Story from BBC NEWS:
For 350 years, the Royal Society has called on the world's biggest brains to unravel the mysteries of science. Its president, Martin Rees, considers today's big issues, while leading thinkers describe the puzzles they would love to see solved
Martin Rees, with interviews by Alok Jha and John Crace
The Guardian, Tuesday 30 November 2010
Today we celebrate the 350th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Society. It signalled the emergence of a new breed of people – described by Francis Bacon as "merchants of light". They sought to understand the world by experiment and observation, rather than by reading ancient texts. They were motivated by curiosity, but also engaged with the practical problems of their time – improving navigation, cultivating forests, rebuilding London after the Great Fire, and so forth.
Over the last 350 years our lives have been changed beyond recognition by the application of science. In 1660, vast areas were terra incognita; today, rapid communication and travel makes the world seem connected, even constricted. Some of the changes have been less benign: this is the first century when one species – ours – risks irreversibly degrading the entire planet's environment.
We are now in a time of challenges and adversity but it is also a time for scientific opportunity.
Issues relating to global health and sustainability must stay high on the agenda if we are to cope with an ageing and ever-increasing population, with growing pressure on resources, and with rising global temperatures. The risks and dangers need to be assessed and then confronted. The need to develop "clean" energy, new vaccines and better resources means science has a critical role to play over the coming years.
Helping to meet the challenges of the 21st century demands technological advancement – and an optimal use of existing knowledge. From the growth of the internet through to the mapping of the human genome and our understanding of the human brain, the more we understand, the more there seems to be for us to explore.
We have learned so much over the last 350 years, but with every answer comes more questions. From a personal perspective I am disappointed that we have yet to really achieve a full understanding of the origins of life on Earth. What was the spark that, billions of years ago, kickstarted the process of evolution that has brought us life as we know it today? I hope that we will get some answers to that in my lifetime.
Looking further ahead is notoriously difficult, but whatever breakthroughs are in store in the coming decades and beyond, we can be sure of one thing: there will be an ever-widening gulf between what science allows us to do, and what it is prudent or ethical actually to do. In respect of (for instance) human reproductive cloning, genetically modified organisms, nanotechnology, robotics and geoengineering, regulation will be called for, on ethical as well as prudential grounds.
In terms of what we should be looking to achieve, a huge priority must be to decarbonise our energy needs. Whether it is to reduce our carbon-dioxide emissions or to prepare for when the coal and oil run out, we have to continue to seek out new energy sources.
Science has a huge part to play in the development, and the very survival, of humankind in both the near and distant future. Some of the challenges are obvious and some of the solutions are already being worked on by scientists. New challenges will emerge and in science we have seen again and again that some of the greatest breakthroughs are the unpredictable outcomes of pure curiosity. As we look to the next 350 years of the Royal Society we have no crystal ball that allows us to predict the detailed course of scientific discovery. However, we can be sure that today's young people will live their lives in a world where science – and the way it is applied – will play a greater role than ever before.
Martin Rees is the Astronomer Royal and president of the Royal Society.
Hubble's over-budget successor may be delayed for years
18:42 11 November 2010 by Sujata Gupta New Scientist
The James Webb Space Telescope, already billions of dollars over budget and several years behind schedule, will be delayed by at least another year, to 2015, and will cost $1.5 billion more than current estimates, an independent review panel says. Costs and delays could escalate even further if funding for the project does not increase substantially in 2011 and 2012.
Cost estimates have risen for the ambitious mission, billed as the Hubble Space Telescope's heir, since the idea for the telescope was floated in the late 1980s. At that time, proponents estimated that the project would cost about $1 billion. In 2008, NASA officials upped that amount to $5 billion. Though Congress approved all requested funding for JWST in 2009 and 2010, NASA came back asking for an additional $95 million and $20 million in each respective year.
Those escalating costs prompted Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, head of the congressional subcommittee that funds NASA, to call for an independent investigation into the project. "I am committed to space-based astronomy," said Mikulski in a written statement. But "we are not in the business of cost overruns".
The seven-member review panel released its report (pdf) on Wednesday. The panel estimates that an additional $1.5 billion is needed to launch the mission, putting the project's total cost at $6.5 billion. And it says the mission could not be made ready for launch until at least September 2015, more than a year after its current target launch date of June 2014.
And those estimates are best-case scenarios. To meet the 2015 launch date, the panel says $200 million to $250 million would have to be added to the project's budget in each of the next two years. That represents about a fifth of NASA's annual budget for astrophysical missions like JWST.
"I doubt we're going to find $200 million [per year]," NASA Associate Administrator Chris Scolese told reporters on Wednesday. "We're in a time of fiscal [conservatism] where we have to make every dollar count."
It is not yet clear whether NASA will try to funnel money from other projects to JWST to make the 2015 launch date or whether the mission will get delayed even further. Panelists blamed poor management and oversight of the programme for the rising costs and delays. NASA responded by reorganising the mission's management structure and creating a new position, the JWST programme manager. Under the new design, JWST project leaders both at the agency's headquarters in Washington, DC, and at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, will have to report directly to that programme manager who, in turn, will report to top NASA officials. But despite its criticisms of the project's management, the panel was quick to point out that the JWST mission itself will do top-notch science. The telescope will boast a 6.5-metre mirror, nearly three times as wide as Hubble's, and will peer back at distant objects that appear as they were a couple of hundred million years after the big bang.
"This is a remarkable telescope and will be an outstanding facility that stands on the shoulders of Hubble," said panelist Garth Illingworth of the University of California Observatories.