World Space Week

Today marks the beginning of World Space Week, an annual international celebration of the many benefits of the exploration of outer space.

This year’s theme for the event is “Space for Human Safety and Security”, which seeks to extol the virtues of how much Earth observation, navigation and telecommunication satellites are used everyday to protect humans and safeguard our environment.

Chosen specifically for this date by the UN General Assembly to mark the succesful launch of Sputnik 1, the first man-made satellite, on October 4th 1957, and the signining of the ‘Treaty on Principles Governing the Activites of States in the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies’ on October 10 1967, World Space Week has been held every year since 1999, and seeks primarily to educate people about the positives of space exploration and encourage better public understanding and support for space programmes.

We’re very keen on space in the Library, and not just the kind students look for for studying in! We possess a large range of material about space flight and the history of astronautics, including access to NASA’s Scientific & Technical Information (STI) web site among our extensive array of Aeronautical databases.

For more information about World Space Week, including an opportunity to participate in a ‘Tweet-up’ with legendary Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin, visit their website here:

http://www.worldspaceweek.org/wsw/

A Second Prize That’s Not to be Sniffed At

Loughborough’s athletes weren’t the only ones to carry home a major prize this month – our very own Water Engineering & Development Centre (WEDC) claimed second prize in a prestigious competition to produce the next generation in… toilets.

The Reinvent the Toilet Challenge was set last year by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and asked engineers to come up with a more ecological sustainable design to surpass the present flush toilet model created by a Scottish watchmaker, Alexander Cummings, over two centuries ago.

The California Institute of Technology wiped out the opposition with a solar-powered design that breaks down water and human waste into hydrogen gas for use in fuel cells, claiming the first prize of $100,000. WEDC’s design for a toilet that produces biological charcoal, minerals and clean water surfaced for the second prize of $50,000, while the University of Toronto bubbled under for third place with a design that sanitises faeces and urine, and recovers resources and clean water.

Joking aside, it’s estimated that only 63% of the world’s population have access to improved sanitation facilities – that’s a staggering 2.6 billion people without the facilities we tend to take for granted. The billionaire Microsoft chief set universities around the world the challenge to come up with a method of improving this dire situation.

To found out more about the competition, visit the Foundation’s site here. Or to find out more about WEDC’c work, visit their site here.

Image by Robert Ganzer, reproduced under CC License from Flickr.

Mars, Bringer of… Curiosity!

NASA took another giant step forward in mankind’s exploration of the Solar System this morning following the successful landing of a new robot explorer, named Curiosity, on Mars.

Curiosity’s primary assignment is to look for signs of life among the frozen red sands of our enigmatic near-neighbour. It is the fourth robotic rover NASA have landed on Mars since 1997, but Curiosity’s size and the sophistication of its hardware dwarfs all previous missions, as it includes a plutonium battery with a ten-year plus lifespan, two on-board laboratories to analysis soil and rock samples, and laser system to help identify such samples to the minutest atomic detail. Costing a mere $2.6 billion dollars, hopes are high that this project will prove the most revealing exploration of Mars yet, possibly even paving the way for a manned mission in future.

Curiosity landed successfully in the Gale Crater at just after 6.30AM amid scenes of great jubilation back in NASA mission control in Pasadena and almost immediately began to transmit pictures of its new ‘home’. You can follow the passage of the mission via NASA’s website here.

The Library has quite a range of material about space exploration among our aeronautical engineering section, as well as several books on the topic of the Red Planet, including H.G. Wells seminal War of the Worlds. Let’s hope Curiosity finds something a lot friendlier than Mr Wells’ Martians…!!

Earth & Mars image courtesy of bluedharma, reproduced under CC License from Flickr.

Fifty Years of Europe in Space

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the European Space Agency (ESA).

Established through an agreement between the various Western European states on June 14th 1962, the ESA initially began life as two seperate organisations, ELDO (European Launch Development Organisation), which tackled the thorny issue launching men and materials into space, and ESRO (European Space Research Organisation), which, as its title suggests, carried out space research. It wasn’t until 1975 that the two organisations were merged to form what is now the ESA.

Although European space exploration has remained very much in the shadow of the more illustrious (and better funded) United States and Russian space programmes, the ESA has achieved many notable successes, including the Ariane commercial launch vehicle, and has since gone on to form partnerships and collaborations with both NASA and the Russian Federal Space Agency on a variety of projects.

Indeed, the first ESA astronaut into space was the German Ulf Merbold in 1983, who was part of a NASA mission to help set up the ESA designed Spacelab laboratory which would be re-used to good effect during 22 Space Shuttle missions between ’83 and 1998.

The Library has a current subscription to the ESA Bulletin, in addition to a wealth of information about astronautics and space flight technology among our hard-copy and electronic resource aero-auto engineering collections. Plus you can find out a lot more about the ESA and its history from its web site here:

http://www.esa.int/esaCP/index.html

Image shows the International Space Station, courtesy of NASA, reproduced under CC License from Flickr.

Presentation skills

speech bubble and  smiley faceDo nerves always get the better of you in presentations? Do you end up talking too much – or drying up? Gain practical advice on giving a talk including planning, using visual aids, controlling nerves and effective use of your voice at this workshop.

Come along to Library Training Room 1 on Wednesday 16th May at 2pm-2.50pm

Book a place on the Get the Know-How module on Learn LBAOO1

Icon courtesy of alessandro rei at www.iconfinder.com

Writing Better Reports

pencilNot sure what the difference is between a report and an essay?  Don’t know what is expected of you?  Learn what makes a good report at this workshop. By the end of the session you will:

  • understand why reports are written,
  • be able to plan and write a report,
  • know what to consider when laying out and presenting a report,
  • understand common problems and good practice in report writing .

You can find extra information at http://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/library/skills/topicslist/topic—report-writing.html

Just come to Library Training Room 1 on Tuesday 8th May 2012 between 6- 7.30pm.

Book a place on the Get the Know-How module on Learn LBAOO1

Icon courtesy of alessandro rei at www.iconfinder.com.

From pulp to pulpit

CC licenced image from Flickr

Following the earthquake in Christchurch 14 months ago, the landmark cathedral suffered irreparable damage. A temporary replacement cathedral, partly made of cardboard tubes, will be constructed until something more permanent is sorted out. Needless to say the cardboard will be treated to make it weather-proof and fire-reistant. Even so, it is likely that the ‘temporary’ cathedral could be in place for up to 20 years!

This will not be the first building to be constructed from cardboard. One school in the UK has a classroom made from recycled cardboard. Indeed the story of the school in Wescliff-on-Sea is an inspiring one.

To find out more about cardboard construction why not search the Proquest collection of resources. Use the A-Z list within the Select databases feature of Library Catalogue Plus to jump to Proquest.

A Night To Remember

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the legendary passenger liner Titanic after it struck an iceberg while four days into its maiden voyage across the Atlantic from Britain to the United States.

1,514 people perished in what was, at the time, the worst maritime disaster the world had ever seen, and as a result sweeping changes were made to existing maritime safety rules and regulations, including, most crucially, the requirement that all ships carry sufficient lifeboats for all those on board – which was tragically not the case when the Titanic sank.

The name Titanic has since become a by-word for disaster ever since, and the affair has captured the imaginations of writers, dramatists and film-makers across the globe. James Cameron’s 1997 movie, Titanic, albeit a rather more romantic Hollywood interpretation of the fatal night, was for 12 years the highest grossing film of all time, and garnered 11 Academy Awards in the process.

The Library owns several books detailing the disaster, its aftermath and its cultural legacy, and you can find a wealth of additional detail among our databases on Library Catalogue Plus. You can even read the newspaper headlines of the day via archives such as The Times Digital Archive and The Daily Mirror Archive. 

Pictured is the Titanic leaving Southampton, image copyright paukrus, reproduced under CC Licence from Flickr.

Our World In Motion

This week is National Science & Engineering Week, and to mark the occasion the Library is hosting a special exhibition celebrating this year’s theme, ‘Our World In Motion’.

No, don’t worry, it’s got nothing to do with a certain dodgy World Cup football song of 1990′s yore! The display celebrates the invention and innovation in applications of human movement from human powered forms of transport, through leisure and recreational activities to new devices which convert human effort into power in a sustainable way, illustrating not only human movement in all its diverse forms and some of the methods developed over the years for recording it, but how human movement can be used to power a variety of devices from simple hand pumps to human-powered aircraft capable of sustained flight.

For more information about other NSEW events and activities which Loughborough University will be providing from 9th-18th March, visit the website http://www.lboro.ac.uk/nsew/index.html

Free workshop on time management

alarm clock

Struggling to balance all your commitments? Want to avoid last minute panic with coursework deadlines looming?  Learn useful tips on time management and action planning by dropping  into the Library’s Training Room 1 from 12pm- 12.50 pm on Thursday 8th  March for the Library’s Get the Know-How course – Making the most of your Time

Book a place on the Get the Know-How module on Learn LBAOO1

More information about the course and resources on time management can be found at

http://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/library/skills/topicslist/topic—time-management.html

Icon courtesy of alessandro rei at www.iconfinder.com