Mendeley Brainstorm – The Future of Energy

Britain stopped using coal for a day; will a day come when it is no longer used?

On the 21st of April, Great Britain experienced its first day without burning any coal since the 19th century. According to the National Grid, the energy was provided by natural gas, followed by nuclear and renewables. Given this example, what will our future energy mix look like? We are looking for the most well thought out answer to this question in up to 150 words: use the comment feature below the blog and please feel free to promote your research! The winner will receive an Amazon gift certificate worth £50 and a bag full of Mendeley items; competition closes June 14, 2017.

Making a Fossil of a Fuel

Coal powered the industrial revolution in Great Britain. However, as of the 21st of April, it was clear that the country is no longer dependent upon this once ubiquitous fuel. Britain’s energy on April 21, in descending order, came from natural gas, nuclear, wind, biomass and solar.

Back to the Past?

Not everyone is so keen on this development. In March, US President Donald Trump lifted a temporary ban on coal leases; his popularity in states like West Virginia was based on the promise to bring coal mines back into operation.

Powering the Future

However, the continued use of fossil fuels has a significant environmental cost. The World Health Organisation estimated in 2012 that up to 7 million deaths in that year were attributable to air pollution. Additionally, most climate scientists state that burning fossil fuels is wreaking havoc with the Earth’s climate.

What Next?

Given that Britain has shown that we can stop using at least one fossil fuel, what’s next? What will be the energy source of the future? Tell us!

About Mendeley Brainstorms

Our Brainstorms are challenges so we can engage with you, our users, on the hottest topics in the world of research.  We look for the most in-depth and well thought through responses; the best response as judged by the Mendeley team will earn a prize.

References

Fears, D. (2017). Donald Trump promises to bring back coal jobs but experts disagree. The Independent. [online] Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-coal-mining-jobs-promise-experts-disagree-executive-order-a7656486.html [Accessed 8 May 2017].

Golson, J. (2017). Britain goes a day without coal-fired power for first time since the 1880s. The Verge. [online] Available at: https://www.theverge.com/2017/4/23/15395754/coal-great-britain-electricity-power-plant [Accessed 8 May 2017].

Mendeley Brainstorm – Send in the Clones – We Have a Winner!

Is cloning going to be part of our future?

Many thanks to all those who entered the Mendeley Brainstorm related to Cloning; picking a winner was problematic, however in the end, we selected Preston Whisenant’s post:

Genetic engineering has been happening, is happening, and will continue to happen regardless of how people feel about it. Science won’t stop, and shouldn’t stop, it’s exploration into genetics and its quest to save humanity from unspeakable, terrible, genetic diseases and complications simply because some people are against it! Even if banned, genetic research would still take place, it would simply take place with less oversight, less well-meaning intentions, and less sophistication (Kurzgesagt, 2016).

Health is the top priority; it is unethical to stop research that could save people from unnecessary complications and lifetimes of suffering! Kant, a philosopher, maintains that it is not only the action, but the intention of the action that determines virtue (Kant, 1785). To therefore deny people freedom from such suffering simply because one’s ‘value system’ makes one uncomfortable when considering it may not be malicious, but it is sheer ignorance and it is cruel!

We asked Preston what inspired him, He wrote:

I was particularly interested in the sociological and ethical implications of the development or lack thereof of this technology and how it should be utilized. I wonder then, if that technology had existed earlier if it could’ve been utilized to spare many from all kinds of problems and inconveniences caused by genetics.

Thank you, Preston!

Those who didn’t win this time are encouraged to respond to the latest Mendeley Brainstorm, regarding The End of Driving. Thanks again to all our participants.

Mendeley Brainstorm – The End of Driving: Getting into Gear?

Are we ready to entrust our transport to autonomous machines?

The driverless vehicle is one of the most significant practical applications of Artificial Intelligence. It will change how we travel from place to place and how our supply chains are managed. But is humanity ready to trust machines with something so vital? Or would we be taking too much a risk? We are looking for the most well thought out answer to this question in up to 150 words: use the comment feature below the blog and please feel free to promote your research! The winner will receive an Amazon gift certificate worth £50 and a bag full of Mendeley items; competition closes May 10, 2017.

Taking the Wheel

Perhaps one of the most significant changes wrought by Artificial Intelligence to our daily lives will be the arrival of driverless vehicles. In addition to Google’s Waymo project, which aims to replace passenger cars, autonomous lorries will transform how goods are shipped.

Are We Ready?

The chief executive of FedEx Freight, Michael Ducker, recently stated his company could soon rely on self-driving vehicles. He told the Financial Times: “It is coming faster than many people think, just because technology is advancing so rapidly…I think technology will lead, and sociological issues will lag, in this particular case.”

Green Light, Yellow Light

In theory, autonomous vehicles should be an improvement; machines are immune to the misjudgements that human beings make out on the road. Furthermore, they don’t tire like human drivers do, and thus the movement of both people and freight should be faster and more efficient. Nevertheless, the car is viewed as a means to achieve personal independence; many people’s livelihoods depend on the transport industry.

Get into Gear?

Is humanity ready to entrust transport to machines? Or are we taking too much a risk? What about the impact to employment? What is your view? Tell us!

About Mendeley Brainstorms

Our Brainstorms are challenges so we can engage with you, our users, on the hottest topics in the world of research.  We look for the most in-depth and well thought through responses; the best response as judged by the Mendeley team will earn a prize.

References

Hook, L. (2017). FedEx Freight calls for US self-driving truck regulations. The Financial Times. [online] Available at: https://www.ft.com/content/b14abc72-1e4b-11e7-b7d3-163f5a7f229c [Accessed 11 Apr. 2017].

Waymo. (2017). Waymo. [online] Available at: https://waymo.com/ [Accessed 11 Apr. 2017].

Mendeley Brainstorm – Science and Politics – We Have a Winner!

When politics and science collide, is it time to go on the march?

Many thanks to all those who entered the Mendeley Brainstorm related to Science and Politics; picking a winner given the well thought out answers was particularly difficult this time, however in the end, we selected Isaac Alcón Rovira’s post:

To me the problem is a bit deeper. I think something that must change in science today is the capacity to reach people who is out of science. By “reaching” I mean being able to transmit what science is. Out of the scientific world, people have no idea what science is, and I believe that if everyone would have a scientific point of view (even not being a scientist at all) that would be very beneficial in their life in many senses. However, scientists, at the moment, have not idea about how to transmit science. In fact, to all conferences that I have been so far (not many, but some) around 80% of talks have been so opaque that I have not got more than a glimpse of what that person tries to achieve with his/her research. As a consequence, I come back home with the feeling I have wasted 80% of my time. Now, if scientists are not able to fully transmit, even to the colleges of their own field, their research, then, let’s forget about transmitting our science to the rest of the world, to people who are not familiar with what an atom, or a molecule, is (now thinking in Chemistry, of course).

In my opinion, the day scientists are capable of transmitting what science is to the rest of the world, we will get the power to reach people, to touch people and, eventually, to move people. That day, probably, we will not really care what politics do or whether they believe in science or not, because 80% of people will do care of science, and that will be far enough.

Isaac is a PhD student at the Universitat de Barcelona, He wrote:

My research is not about communication skills, or politics, I am a chemist and I am designing 2D materials for possible future applications in organic electronics. What inspired me? … I have become quite passionate with Beatles during the last year and, to me, there is a common factor in all most successful songs by Lennon and McCartney: all of them are tremendously good but, at the same time, tremendously simple. I am sure many scientists would tell me that Science cannot be transmitted in such a simple way as Music, because of its more complex nature. Well, I think it is possible, and it is just a matter of caring about it, and putting the effort to make it happen.

Thank you, Isaac!

Those who didn’t win this time are encouraged to respond to the latest Mendeley Brainstorm, regarding Cloning. Thanks again to all our participants.

Mendeley Brainstorm – Send in the Clones?

Twenty years ago, the first sheep was cloned; there have been huge advances since.
Twenty years ago, the first sheep was cloned from an adult cell; there have been huge advances since.

Twenty years ago, Dolly, the first sheep cloned from an adult cell, was revealed to the world. Since then, cloning and genetic manipulation technologies have advanced considerably. Should we welcome a new era of genetic science? Or is our knowledge growing faster than our wisdom? We are looking for the most well thought out answer to this question in up to 150 words: use the comment feature below the blog and please feel free to promote your research! The winner will receive an Amazon gift certificate worth £50 and a bag full of Mendeley items; competition closes April 12, 2017.

Hello, Dolly

On February 22, 1997, the Roslin Institute in Scotland announced the arrival of Dolly, the first mammal cloned from an adult cell. According to the Institute, “in the week following the announcement…(we) received 3,000 phone calls from around the world”. Dolly had captured the public’s imagination about the potential of cloning, which at one point had been thought to be impossible.

Spinoffs

Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, the 2012 winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine was intellectually stimulated by Dolly’s arrival. He subsequently investigated how the adult DNA which had been used to create Dolly had been revivified. The eventual result was “induced pluripotent stem cells”, which “have become a scientific workhorse, providing limitless supplies of differentiated cells and tissue for use in the lab” (Economist, 2017). They also are “an invaluable tool for modelling human diseases and screening drugs” (Economist, 2017).\

Moral Objections

Cloning technologies have always been controversial. Many ethicists and public figures have questioned whether scientists have the right to “play God” and alter the building blocks of humanity. Some countries, including the United States, have implemented restrictions on this research.

Send in the Clones?

Are these concerns overblown? Or is our knowledge growing faster than our wisdom? What is the future of cloning in your view? Tell us!

Need Funding for Your Research?

Here are some of the latest funding opportunities for biology researchers provided by Mendeley Funding:

Organisation Opportunity
Oak Ridge Associated Universities Molecular biologist research opportunity in plant viruses
University of East Anglia Cloning and expression of topoisomerase genes from Trypanosoma brucei
Developing methods for genetically encoded unnatural amino acids to develop novel proteins
National Institutes of Health Cancer and stem cells epigenetics
Ancillary studies to the NIDDK intestinal stem cell consortium
Spermatogenic stem cell culture systems to preserve and restore reproductive capacity in males
Stem cell-derived blood products for therapeutic use: Technology improvement
John Templeton Foundation Genetics – Large grant
Genetics – Small grant

About Mendeley Brainstorms

Our Brainstorms are challenges so we can engage with you, our users, on the hottest topics in the world of research.  We look for the most in-depth and well thought through responses; the best response as judged by the Mendeley team will earn a prize.

References

Gene editing, clones and the science of making babies. (2017). The Economist. [online] Available at: http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21717035-ways-reproducing-without-sexual-intercourse-are-multiplying-history-suggests-they-should [Accessed 23 Feb. 2017].

Hello, again, Dolly. (2017). The Economist. [online] Available at: http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21717028-twenty-years-ago-world-met-first-adult-clone-sheep-called-dolly-her-legacy-lives [Accessed 23 Feb. 2017].

The Life of Dolly | Dolly the Sheep. (2017). [online] Dolly.roslin.ed.ac.uk. Available at: http://dolly.roslin.ed.ac.uk/facts/the-life-of-dolly/ [Accessed 23 Feb. 2017].

Mendeley Brainstorm – Ageing Societies – We Have a Winner!

As societies age, there are are both challenges and opportunities.
As societies age, there are are both challenges and opportunities.

Many thanks to all those who entered the Mendeley Brainstorm related to Ageing Societies; picking a winner is never easy, in this instance, we have selected Beau Hilton’s response:

Two modifiable and interrelated aspects of aging are muscle and strength loss (sarcopenia and dynapenia). These are deleterious in obvious ways such as difficulty performing activities of daily living, as well as in indirect ways, e.g. reduction of glucose disposal into muscle may contribute to hyperglycemia, diabetes, and perhaps Alzheimer’s disease, sometimes called “type 3 diabetes.” Interventions are generally low-cost and include the conventional, such as protein (especially leucine) intake and resistance exercise, as well as innovations including blood flow restriction training, which was developed in Japan to help people maintain or increase muscle mass when unable to lift heavy weights or even move at all. Additionally, prudent use of and research on anabolic agents in both males and females is beginning to see a renaissance. What does it mean for society if the typical 75-year-old in 20xx has the physical agility of the typical 55-year-old in 2017?

We asked Beau about his background. He responded:

I am a 2nd year medical student at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. It’s a 5 year program with a research emphasis and, since it’s housed in the Clinic itself, a great deal of time with patients. My main interest is prevention and wellness, with a focus on attacking the functional deficits that most characterize old age using rational combinations of lifestyle and pharmacological means.

Those who didn’t win this time are encouraged to respond to the latest Mendeley Brainstorm, regarding Science and Politics. Thanks again to all our participants.

Mendeley Brainstorm: Science and Politics – Unhappy Together?

Is it time for researchers to adapt or go on the march?
Is it time for researchers to adapt or go on the march?

The worlds of science and politics appear to be in conflict. Britain voted for Brexit; it’s estimated 90% of British academics voted Remain. Recent policy announcements by the Trump administration have provoked scientists to plan a “March for Science” on Washington DC. Are science and politics destined to clash? We are looking for the most well thought out answer to this question in up to 150 words: use the comment feature below the blog and please feel free to promote your research! The winner will receive an Amazon gift certificate worth £50 and a bag full of Mendeley items; competition closes March 8, 2017.

Post-Factual Versus Evidence Based

The world of politics introduced new terms into the lexicon in 2016, including “post-factual”, “post-truth” and “fake news”; the world of science continues to rely on evidence, data and peer reviews. In 2016, politics erupted with statements that denounced “experts”; science depends on expertise to achieve its advances.

Funding Pressures

The Trump Administration has instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to freeze all grants. This could be a prelude to more cuts for research in environmental and other sciences. Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s choice to head the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, apparently asked in September 2016 after considering studies done about the Zika virus, “…do we really need government funded research at all”.

What’s Next?

Can science learn to live with the new political environment, or is it time for researchers to march? Will “post factual” politics be compelled to yield to cold, hard data? Will science shift from countries like the United States and Britain to elsewhere? What are your thoughts on what will happen and what will you do? Tell us!

Need to Store & Publish Your Data?

Mendeley Data is a secure cloud-based repository where you can store your data (including open data governmental datasets and websites), ensuring it is easy to share, access and cite, wherever you are. Click here for more information.

About Mendeley Brainstorms

Our Brainstorms are challenges so we can engage with you, our users, on the hottest topics in the world of research.  We look for the most in-depth and well thought through responses; the best response as judged by the Mendeley team will earn a prize.

References

AHUJA, M. (2017). Scientists planning their own march in Washington. CNN. [online] Available at: http://edition.cnn.com/2017/01/25/politics/scientists-march-dc-trnd/index.html?sr=twCNN012617scientists-march-dc-trnd0530AMStoryPhoto&linkId=33790680 [Accessed 26 Jan. 2017].

BELLUZ, J. (2017). Trump’s budget director pick: “Do we really need government-funded research at all”. [Blog] Vox. Available at: http://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2016/12/21/14012552/trump-budget-director-research-science-mulvaney [Accessed 26 Jan. 2017].

KASPRAK, A. (2016). FACT CHECK: Trump’s Budget Director Pick Asked “Do We Really Need Government-Funded Research at All?”. [online] Snopes. Available at: http://www.snopes.com/trumps-budget-director-pick-asked-really-need-government-funded-research/ [Accessed 26 Jan. 2017].

WAPNER, J. (2017). Trump Freezes Grants, Approves Pipelines and Considers Sharp Budget Cuts At the EPA. Newsweek. [online] Available at: http://europe.newsweek.com/trump-freezes-grants-approves-pipelines-and-considers-sharp-budget-cuts-epa-547738?rm=eu [Accessed 26 Jan. 2017].