UK biochemist honoured as molecular imaging takes Nobel Prize for Chemistry

Cambridge-based Prof Richard Henderson is among the winners for his work on cryo-electron microscopy, which has enabled the imaging of proteins while they are taking part in biological processes

The 2017 Nobel Prize for Chemistry has been awarded to Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson for the development of cryo-electron microscopy. Dubochet, who is now retired, is Swiss; Frank, of Columbia University, New York, is German, and Henderson, of the MRC laboratory of molecular biology in Cambridge, is Scottish.

imaging richard henderson nobel
Prof Richard Henderson

Cryo-electron microscopy was first developed in the 1980s as a means of imaging biological specimens without their delicate tissues being damaged by the process of electron microscopy, which had previously been limited to non-living subjects.

It depends on being able to cool a sample of a biological substance in water so fast that it becomes glass like, preserving its natural state without damage and allowing it to be imaged by an electron microscope with no need for fixing or staining, because electron microscopy takes place under vacuum, non-vitrified water evaporates during the process.

The cooling technique was first demonstrated by Dubochet, while Frank developed image processing techniques that allowed complex protein molecules to be viewed in 3D; Henderson moved the technique on by imaging a bacteria molecule at atomic resolution.

nobel prize cryo-electron imaging
The improvement in resolution of protein imaging enabled by cryo-elecron microscopy

Since its inception, the technique has been used to provide images of cell membranes, structures such as the “needle” used by the salmonella bacteriium to attack cells, and in designing drug molecules to attach to specific targets in new therapies.

“To give one example, last year the 3D structure of the enzyme producing the amyloid of Alzheimer’s disease was published using this technology.  Knowing this structure opens up the possibility of rational drug design in this area,” commented John Hardy, Prof of neuroscience at UCL.

“I am delighted to see this research recognised in this way. It is truly transformative allowing us to see new images of biomolecules – I am personally very happy for Richard who predicted this would be possible many years previously,” added Dame Carol Robinson, Professor of Chemistry at the Physical and Theoretical Chemistry Laboratory, Oxford University.

British academics awarded Nobel Prizes in chemistry and physics

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Puerto Rico website is keeping track of the island’s re-emerging infrastructure

Status.pr is a website established by Puerto Rico to track vital statistics about the island’s recovery. It’s easy to see just how many people don’t have electricity and how long the recovery will take.

The post Puerto Rico website is keeping track of the island’s re-emerging infrastructure appeared first on Digital Trends.

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Interview discrimination and how to combat it

  Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library, discusses how interview discrimination in the engineering sector can be addressed.

Concerning new statistics from CV-Library have revealed that one in four (23.9 per cent) engineering professionals have experienced discrimination during an interview. Sadly, for over a third of these (35.3 per cent), this was because of their age, though this was not the only given reason.

It’s clear that a huge number of UK engineers are being affected by these types of prejudices and employers within the industry have an important role to play when it comes to ensuring a fair interview process. For organisations in the sector, here’s what you can do to avoid interview discrimination taking place in your business, and why it’s so important.

Don’t judge a book by its cover

Age was not the only factor that engineers felt had cost them an interview. In fact, 17.6 per cent said they had been judged based on their gender, one of highest percentages of any UK sector. A further 6 per cent said they were discriminated against based on their race, because of their relationship status (5.9 per cent) and due to their disabilities (5.8 per cent).

It’s worrying to see that so many professionals are being judged by the above factors, but especially those in the engineering sector, which already suffers from a notorious gender divide.  It’s vital that something is done if the industry wishes to begin bridging the gap (gender and all other aspects included) and creating a strong pipeline of talented engineers.

Ensure you promote fairness

It was also concerning to learn that over half of engineers (52.8 per cent) don’t know their rights when it comes to interview discrimination, making it even more crucial for employers in the sector to remain fair. One way to do this is through follow up emails or phone calls post-interview. This gives the candidate a platform to speak out if they believe they experienced prejudice during their interview and provides you with an opportunity to rectify this.

It can be all too easy to make a snap judgment these days and one way that you can eliminate the temptation to pre-judge a candidate is through screening interviews over the phone. This is a great chance to get to know a bit about the candidate before inviting them in for a face-to-face meeting.

Other ways that you can avoid discrimination occurring is through proper training and rules for those who are conducting your interviews. Whether you do your recruitment in-house or through an agency, 34.7 per cent of engineers agreed that the best way to solve the problem is with better training for interviewers. As well as this, a third (33 per cent) agree that there should be a set list of questions that interviewers should ask, and a list of questions they aren’t allowed to ask candidates. This will help to ensure all candidates are given a fair chance.

Alongside this, simply raising awareness of the issue is a great step towards stamping out the problem. Through taking these actions and ensuring that interviewers are well prepared and know what they should and shouldn’t ask, we are creating awareness around the situation and can begin to tackle it.

Think of the end result

At the end of the day, you’re looking for the most qualified candidate and someone who is going to fit in well with your company culture. Not only could interview discrimination land you in trouble, but it could also cost you a talented new team member. Keeping the end result firmly in the forefront of your mind during the interview process will help you to ask the right questions and avoid pre-judging a potentially great candidate.

Kick-start your engineering career with The Engineer Jobs

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Netherlands’ Gemini wind farm comes online

A new 600MW wind farm off the Dutch coast has come online, and will eventually provide power to 1.5 million people.

Situated 85km into the North Sea off the coast of Groningen, the Gemini wind park is one of the world’s largest. Its 150 turbines cover 68 square kilometres, and provide an installed capacity of 600MW. According to Gemini, the location has some of the highest and most consistent wind speeds in the North Sea, averaging 36km/h.

“We successfully completed Gemini ahead of schedule, under budget and with an excellent safety record,” said Matthais Haag, Gemini’s managing director.

“Now fully operational, Gemini will produce 2.6TWh of sustainable energy every year, reducing the Netherlands’ CO₂ emissions by 1.25 million tons. We are proud to make this contribution to the realisation of the Netherlands’ sustainability targets.”

First conceived in 2010, the €2.8bn project is a collaboration led by Canada’s Northland Power, in partnership with Siemens Wind Power, Dutch maritime contractor Van Oord, and waste processing company HVC. The 150 Siemens turbines deliver power to two offshore high-voltage substations. Each substation is connected to a land station in Eemshaven by a 110km export cable. From there, the electricity is converted to 380Kv and delivered to the grid.

At full capacity, the Gemini wind farm should provide electricity to around 785,000 Dutch households. It is expected to contribute around 13 per cent of the country’s total renewable energy, and about 25 per cent of its wind power.

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McLaren Racing aim for pole with Stratasys’ 3D printing technologies

Ahead of Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix, McLaren Racing has revealed how it is expanding the use of 3D printing as the team bids for glory on the track.

The Surrey-based team, which counts 12 drivers’ championships and eight constructors’ championships among its list of F1 honours, is using 3D printing technologies from Stratasys to accelerate design iterations and to reduce weight in McLaren Honda’s MCL32 race car.

Some of the 3D printed parts designed to improve performance which have been applied to the 2017 race car include a hydraulic line bracket, a flexible radio harness location boot, carbon fibre composite brake cooling ducts, and rear wing flap.

The bracket for the MCL32 race car was produced in four hours compared to an estimated two weeks using traditional manufacturing processes. McLaren Honda 3D printed the structural bracket to attach the hydraulic line using Stratasys Fortus 450mc Production 3D Printer with carbon-fibre reinforced nylon material (FDM Nylon 12CF).

Hydraulic line bracket for the McLaren MCL32 race car
Hydraulic line bracket for the McLaren MCL32 race car

Similarly, a new 2-way communication and data system was recently added to the MCL32 race car but the cable distracted the driver. To overcome this, McLaren used the Stratasys J750 3D printer’s ability to print in flexible materials to produce a rubber-like boot to join the harness wires for the communication system. Three designs were iterated and 3D printed in one day. The final component was printed in two hours and was on March 26, 2017 at the Australian Grad Prix.

Radio harness for the McLaren MCL32 race car
Radio harness for the McLaren MCL32 race car

At the back of the car a large rear wing flap extension designed to increase rear downforce was manufactured in carbon fibre-reinforced composites using a 3D printed lay-up tool produced on the FDM-based Fortus 900mc Production 3D Printer. The team 3D printed the 900mm wide, high temperature (>350°F/177°C) mould in ULTEM 1010 for the autoclave-cured composite structure in three days, which saved the team time in a critical limited testing period.

Neil Oatley, design and development director, McLaren Racing said: “We are consistently modifying and improving our Formula 1 car designs, so the ability to test new designs quickly is critical to making the car lighter and more importantly increasing the number of tangible iterations in improved car performance.

“If we can bring new developments to the car one race earlier – going from new idea to new part in only a few days – this will be a key factor in making the McLaren MCL32 more competitive.

“By expanding the use of Stratasys 3D printing in our manufacturing processes, including producing final car components, composite lay-up and sacrificial tools, cutting jigs, and more, we are decreasing our lead times while increasing part complexity.

To further accelerate design and manufacturing cycles, McLaren Honda will be bringing a Stratasys uPrint SE Plus to track testing and races on-site, enabling the team to produce parts and tooling on demand.

Case study: Carbon Fibre Composite Brake Cooling Ducts
To efficiently control the brake component temperatures, McLaren Honda 3D printed sacrificial tools to create hollow composite brake cooling ducts. The wash-out cores were 3D printed using ST-130 soluble material, developed specifically for the application, and then wrapped with carbon-fibre reinforced composite material and autoclave-cured at elevated temperatures. The final result is a tubular structure with very smooth internal surface finishes to ensure the required airflow to brakes, whilst maintaining maximum aerodynamic and car performance.

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