Technically Speaking | a science and engineering discussion
Is space travel worth it?

Is space travel worth it?

July 21, 2022

With the expense of the James Webb Space Telescope and the ever worrying climate emergency, we're wondering what the benefit of space travel and space exploration is. Ellie, Antonia, Laura and Emma discuss this from the point of view of climate science, discovery, collaboration, what inspired us to become scientists, and space tourism. We talk about what the future might hold. What would you do if you were in charge of a planet's space programme?

Read a summary of this episode here.

Can we learn from the hunting strategies of animals?

Can we learn from the hunting strategies of animals?

July 7, 2022

We're finding out more about the natural world all the time! Laura, Ellie and Aneeqa are joined by Katya from Drunk on Porpoise to talk about hunting strategies used by animals, how zoologists have discovered these strategies, and how we could use this knowledge to engineer a better world. 

Technical Short: Sustainability

Technical Short: Sustainability

June 23, 2022

A stripped down version of our episode 'what is sustainability?' that provides a clear explanation of the topic without any of the distractions.

Technical Short: Electrocution and energy harvesting

Technical Short: Electrocution and energy harvesting

June 15, 2022

Our research for the episode on a house that stores electricity involved some kinda weird-yet-strangely-compelling conversation and we've pulled the best bits together! Antonia and Chris discuss many reasons why a cement-based battery is safe to handle, review research into wearable devices and energy harvesting, and question what the future might hold.

Can you build a house that stores electricity?

Can you build a house that stores electricity?

June 2, 2022

A recent discovery got the team speculating about the future. Laura, Antonia and Rwayda take a look at research where cement is made to store electricity and wonder whether this material could be used to build our future homes. How much electricity can it store and what can it power? Is there a futuristic way of using that power without the need for cables? What's next for this laboratory discovery?

Read about this episode here.

What is sustainability?

What is sustainability?

May 19, 2022

It's a buzzword that comes up a lot in food, transport, energy, and other industries. Laura and Antonia discuss what sustainability means and why its not so easy to decide whether something really is sustainable. Although some aspects of sustainability can be measured, others are more of a philosophy which depend on the society and environment you're working in. The team digs into a real-life example that compares digital books to printed ones to illustrate how challenging it is to demonstrate sustainability.

This special episode might also have a record number of references to previous episodes. How many can you spot?

read a short summary of this episode here.

Are there any benefits of ionising radiation?

Are there any benefits of ionising radiation?

May 5, 2022

Radiation is all around us; we're all slightly radioactive! Ellie, Emma S, Laura and Priyanka talk about how radiation is used in medicine to treat cancer and how the body can repair damage to healthy cells. They also discuss how it's used in materials science, how it can help control mosquito populations and preserve food. Some wild speculation also considers how we could all become X-men and develop useful characteristics of animals.

Read about some specific examples of radiation in medicine.

How do we deal with invasive species and repopulation in the natural world?

How do we deal with invasive species and repopulation in the natural world?

April 21, 2022

Humans have been shaping the environment for decades, and so have other species. When humans do it, it often has some negative, unintended consequences. Laura, Ellie and Antonia discuss some invasive species that were intriduced to Australia and what was done to try and manage the effects along with the battle of grey versus red squirrels in Victorian England and the lasting effect that it has had. Conversely, where a species has been completely removed from an environment, the team also discusses how they can be carefully reintroduces and the consequences that beavers could have as environmental engineers. It sounds like we want beavers to use smart phones but We're not quite sure that's what we mean. Why not judge for yourself?

What can materials science learn from nature?

What can materials science learn from nature?

April 7, 2022

The natural world has evolved to give us some really cool stuff, stuff that inspires us to make better materials. Laura and Ellie discuss some of their favorite materials that mimic something from nature as well as some machines and other devices that are inspired by nature. They also speculate on what adaptations they might want, including retractable claws and something inspired by the Aliens movies.

 

The team discussed adaptable thermal insulation that is inspired by squid skin. Read abut this here.

Are solar cells the future for electricity generation?

Are solar cells the future for electricity generation?

March 23, 2022

Following on from the episode about the electricity grid, Aneeqa, Jennifer and Laura discuss how two types of solar cells, also known as photovoltaics, are made and how they work. The ability of these devices to convert sunlight into electricity should mean they're perfect for tackling climate change so the team also asks how sustainable they are to make and recycle, how long they last, and whether they produce enough electricity for our needs.

The points made in this conversation helped Laura decide whether she would get solar panels and you can read all about it.

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