I'm currently working as Technology Features editor at E&T magazine (Engineering and Technology), Europe's leading engineering publication. Here are some of my features.

Barcelona: the world’s smartest city?

16 May 2016

Many cities say that they are the world’s “smartest”. It’s an easy claim to make, as there is no agreed criteria to define what makes a city “smart”. Barcelona is one of the leading contenders for the Smart City crown, with regular appearances among “Top Five Smart City” rankings and even topping some of them. E&T went to the Catalan capital to investigate.

Barcelona is one of Europe’s top tourist destinations - but as groups of visitors stream into the stunningly beautiful basilica Sagrada Familia designed by Antoni Gaudi, I explore another of the city’s attractions, at a bus stop just a stone’s throw away.

Call it a technology gimmick, but it’s one of many things that set Barcelona apart from other cities. The bus I get on has not only an environmentally friendly engine, but also a number of USB mobile chargers onboard, free to use. And so do many of the bus stops dotted around town, right next to the huge interactive touchscreens that are connected to the Internet and help you find your way around the city. Most locals in Barcelona take such amenities for granted these days, but at least the tourists notice. It’s just one of several things that have earned Barcelona the label of being one of the world’s top ‘smart cities’. ---> Keep reading

 

Tactile internet: 5G and the Cloud on steroids

24 March 2015

It’s just after 3pm, and Indonesian tycoon Anthony Salim turns brusquely to his energetic companion with black ruffled hair. “Can you believe it – every time my private jet needs servicing, I have to fly it to Texas,” he moans, rolling his eyes. “There’s no private jet servicing in Asia. None. Mischa, can you do something about it?”

Mischa is Mischa Dohler, who at 38 had just become the head of the Centre for Telecommunications Research at King’s College London – and one of the youngest professors in the UK. But when his Indonesian friend mentions the private jet dilemma of Asia’s rich and powerful, he certainly doesn’t expect Dohler to jump up and say: “Yes, actually, I think I can.”

This conversation, back in October 2013, provided a spark: What if we could build technology that helps service private jets on location in Asia, without a full-blown service facility? What if we could teach a child to play the piano when she’s in Norway, but you stay in Singapore? What if a skilled surgeon could carry out a delicate procedure on a patient, but she’s in a makeshift hospital halfway around the world? Or more mundanely, what if a shopaholic could feel the texture of that blue (or is it golden?) dress before buying it online, or a grandmother could tenderly touch her granddaughter’s blonde curls, while talking to her on Skype? ---> Keep reading

CERN's Large Hadron Collider: restarting the Big Bang Machine

16 March 2015

Credit: CERN
Credit: CERN

 

Panic. Stress. Fear. Worry. But, most of all, tangible excitement.

 

Jean-Philippe Tock, an engineer at CERN, one of the world’s biggest particle physics labs in Geneva, Switzerland, crosses the echoing main magnet workshop. Its massive doors are wide open to a stunning view of the Jura Mountains. A dozen bright blue cylindrical magnets - 15 metres long and weighing a massive 28 tonnes each - line the floor.

 

In a tunnel a hundred metres below, identical magnets - set head to tail in a 27km long circle deep beneath scenic Franco-Swiss farmlands - form the world’s mightiest particle accelerator - the Large Hadron Collider. In a few days it will come to life after a two-year revamp, ready to fling protons through a narrow pipe inside these superconducting magnets. The particles are set to reach 6.5 trillion electron volts (TeV) - energies never before attempted by science and nearly double what the accelerator has achieved so far.

“We are all very impatient to get our beams flying and colliding again,” says Tock. But as he knows very well, a lot could go wrong. ---> Keep reading

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