Happy Birthday BASIC!

spectrum basic keyboard by matt  and kim rudgeFifty years ago today, in a darkened basement at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Jersey, was created a computer programming language that was to have a revolutionary effect on the science and industry of information technology – Basic.

BASIC – or Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code to give it its full title – was the brainchild of mathematics lecturers John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz, who wanted to create a universal programming language that students and computer novices alike could use with ease. So successful was it, that it became the primary programming language for the home computer boom of the 1970’s and 1980’s (including machines such as the venerable Sinclair ZX Spectrum, pictured above), on which many the industry giants of today cut their first IT teeth on, and it is still widely used today, albeit in a vastly evolved form, in languages such as Microsoft Visual Basic.

Programming buffs looking for a nostalgia kick may be amused by the range of books about the original Basic language that we still keep downstairs in our programming section, alongside books about its illustrious descendant – which you may find more useful, unless you keep a friendly old ZX as a back-up for your disertation!

ZX Spectrum keyboard image by Matt and Kim Rudge, reproduced under CC License from Flickr.

Learn Online for Free this April with a Massive Open Online Course


Loughborough University is offering two courses as part of FutureLearn, the first UK-led provider of massive open online courses (MOOCs). Both courses are free and can be taken by anyone from around the world.

‘Innovation and enterprise‘ will give you the opportuntity to learn how an innovative idea becomes a reality. The course is led by our internationally renowned School of Business and Enterprise and runs for six weeks, starting on 14 April 2014.

Getting a grip on mathematical symbolism‘ will teach aspiring engineers and scientists to think mathematically and explore essential concepts. The three-week course is run by our award-winning Mathematics Education Centre and begins on 28 April 2014.

For further information, visit this link: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/moocs/

World Health Day 2014

who dayToday is World Health Day, the World Health Organisation’s annual event highlighting the dangers of a particular medical condition. This year’s message is Small Bite: Big Threat, warning of the global threat posed by disease-carrying insects.

World Health Day was launched on April 7th 1948 during the World Health Organisation’s first World Health Assembly. The goal of this year’s campaign is to encourage better protection against diseases carried by mosquitoes, flies, ticks and other bugs, especially for families living in areas where diseases are transmitted by such insects, and travelers to countries where they pose a health threat.

We have a wide variety of medical databases available via Library Catalogue Plus, including PubMed, the United States National Library of Medicine resource containing more than 23 million citations for biomedical literature from the MEDLINE database, life science journals, and online books, and the National Library for Health, a single search environment that will integrate the ‘national’ and ‘local’ information resources of 500 NHS library services across England.

To find out more about World Health Day and this year’s campaign, visit the following link:


On the Radar – Nowcasting Launch

857Join the Radar Team this Sunday afternoon (23rd March) for a unique meteorological fair to celebrate the launch of Nowcasting, a programme of new artist commissions responding to the weather station on campus.

Taking place on World Meteorological Day, the event will feature artist’s projects, refreshments and a range of family friendly experiments and demonstrations, from simulating weather conditions using domestic appliances to the use of food as a biosensor to map air quality.

Nowcasting will take place between March to October 2014, presenting a series of interventions that connect ideas around meteorology, climate change and forecasting. Informed by the research of Rob Wilby, Professor of Hydroclimatic Modelling within the Geography Department at Loughborough University, the programme considers ways in which we can understand and interact with the phenomena of weather and the role that artists can play in bridging scientific thinking with everyday behaviour.

The event kicks off at the Loughborough University Weather Station (just opposite the Library) at 1pm this Sunday and will close around 4pm. Admission is FREE.

National Science & Engineering Week

national science and engineering weekToday marks the beginning of National Science & Engineering Week, a ten-day national programme of science, technology, engineering and maths events and activities across the UK aimed at people of all ages.

Naturally for a University steeped in tradition for scientific & engineering excellence there is a wide variety of events on campus across the week in celebration of the event, including a photography competition and a special Family Community Day tomorrow (Saturday 15th).

The Library represents science and engineering well with a comprehensive range of books, journals and online resources. While there are too many of them to list individually here, we’d like to highlight IEEE Xplore, which provides full text access to journals, proceedings and standards of the renowned Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers; the SPIE Digital Library, the most extensive resource available on optics and photonics, providing unprecedented access to more than 200,000 technical papers from International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE) Journals and Conference Proceedings; Compendex, the comprehensive engineering database including manufacturing, quality control and engineering management; and the multi-faceted Science Direct, one of the world’s largest providers of scientific, technical and medical (STM) literature.

Have a Slice of Pi…

pi by tj blackwell

As today is National Pi Day, what better time to remind you of some the magnificent mathematical resources we have at the Library?

Aside from all the books and journals we have on the topic down on Level 1 and online, we have access to a host of mathematical databases, including MathWorld – the web’s most extensive mathematics resource – and PlanetMath, a collaborative virtual community which aims to help make mathematical knowledge more accessible.

If numbers aren’t quite your thing and you’d like a quirkier interpretation of the theme, why not pop up to our Leisure Reading Collection on Level 4 and borrow a copy of Yann Martel’s Booker Prize winning The Life of Pi?

Pi Day is celebrated on March 14th around the world.  Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159. Pi has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond its decimal point. As an irrational and transcendental number, it will continue infinitely without repetition or pattern. While only a handful of digits are needed for typical calculations, Pi’s infinite nature makes it a fun challenge to memorize, and to computationally calculate more and more digits.

To find out more, visit the Pi Day website here.

Pi image by T.J. Blackwell, reproduced under CC License from Flickr.

Coming to a Cinema Near You…

Sorian Soosay

There’s a couple of special film screenings taking place over the next week that should be of great interest ot film buffs across campus.

This Sunday, 16th March, Flix Cinema and LSU Action present a traditional cinema experience with an old time film. Action volunteers become old fashioned cinema ushers and usherettes creating the feel of a traditional cinema experience where the 1944 classic National Velvet starring Elizabeth Taylor and Mickey Rooney will be shown at the Cope Auditorium. Doors open at 12.30pm with the film starting at 1pm, and there will be an old-fashioned refreshments interval too!

Then next Wednesday, 19th March, Eden Flix presents Flow: For the Love of Water, Irena Salina’s 2008 documentary about the perilous state of the world’s water supply. From both local and global perspectives, this documentary examines the harsh realities behind the mounting water crisis. Learn how politics, pollution and human rights are intertwined in this important issue that affects every being on Earth. With water drying up around the world and the future of human lives at stake, the film urges a call to arms before more of our most precious natural resource evaporates.

Flow is also being shown at the Cope, where the performance will start at 3pm. All students and staff are welcome to freely attend, though booking is necessary.

Cinema image by Soorian Soosay, reproduced under CC License from Flickr.

Celebrating International Women's Day


In celebration of International Women’s Day, which takes place on March 8th each year, the Sexual Politics Research Group, led by a number of staff based in the School of the Arts, is hosting a screen event across campus. This is part of a series of celebrations taking place this Friday, March 7th.

Throughout the day, the IT information screens will honour women’s achievements past and present, local and global, in the arts, humanities, social sciences, engineering, science and technology. Many of the names used on the IT information screens (including the example above) were generated by enthusiastic submissions and the organisers hope that people will enjoy seeing their choices on screens this Friday.

International Women’s Day celebrates the social, political and economic achievements of women while focusing world attention on areas requiring further action. It has been celebrated every March 8th since the early 1900’s, usually highlighting a specific theme. This year’s theme is Inspiring Change, which calls for challenging the status quo for women’s equality and vigilance inspiring positive change on women’s behalf.

To find out more about the event, visit this website:


National Astronomy Week 2014

jupiter by tonynetoneAll this week is National Astronomy Week, and this year the event seeks to celebrate the planet Jupiter, the largest planet in our Solar System, which will reach its highest point in the sky for many years in early March.

The event, dubbed “Target Jupiter”, will be running from the 1st -8th March 2014, when organisers hope that it should be possible for astronomers, amateur and professional, to be able take some of the best photos ever taken of the planet above British skies.

UK National Astronomy Week is held every few years or so to promote public awareness of astronomy by celebrating remarkable astronomical events.
Previous events have marked the return of Halley’s Comet, the closest approach of Mars to Earth for 60,000 years and, most recently, the 400th anniversary of the first astronomical use of the telescope.

Stargazers don’t have to look far for books on the subject in the Library, as we have a veritable galaxy of books about astronomy down among our science section on Level 1. Those with a more serious scientific interest than just settling down in the garden with a telescope may also find the NASA Astrophysics Data System database of interest.

To find out more about National Astronomy Week, visit their website here.

Planet Jupiter image by Tonynetone, reproduced under CC License from Flickr.

Eden Flix Presents 'Objectified'

eden flix

Next Wednesday afternoon (26th February) at 3pm in the Cope Auditorium Eden Flix is presenting a free showing of Gary Hustwit’s acclaimed 2009 documentary Objectified.

Objectified is a feature-length documentary about our complex relationship with manufactured objects and, by extension, the people who design them. It’s a look at the creativity at work behind everything from toothbrushes to tech gadgets. It’s about the designers who re-examine, re-evaluate and re-invent our manufactured environment on a daily basis. It’s about personal expression, identity, consumerism, and sustainability.  Through vérité footage and in-depth conversations, the film documents the creative processes of some of the world’s most influential product designers, and looks at how the things they make impact our lives. What can we learn about who we are, and who we want to be, from the objects with which we surround ourselves?

Eden Flix are a series of highly acclaimed, thought-provoking and inspirational documentaries on issues related to engineering, design and social consciousness. All staff and students at Loughborough are welcome to attend.