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Play hard, play hard: toy design

Where would we be without toys? If we were never allowed to use fascinating objects as springboards for our imaginations, our brains would fail to develop properly. We project ourselves onto toys, explore the world with them, learn with them. We discover cause and effect, relationships, and our own identities through toys. From Ancient Mesopotamia to Toys ‘R’ Us, children have constructed their realities with the help of tangible playthings, either made for them by their parents or made by the children themselves out of what’s lying around.

Time Machines: A degree in Horology

Today, London’s great clock above the Palace of Westminster will fall silent for up to four years as its chimes are stopped for major restoration work. Its famous ‘bongs’ will not be heard again, except on special occasions, until 2021. For a nation of fastidious timekeepers whose evening news reports on BBC radio and TV traditionally begin with the great clock striking the hour live, this is quite disconcerting news. Some worry who will maintain this national symbol in the future. Will the skills and knowledge of clock maintenance be lost in our digital world?

Can blockchain wipe out shady academic pasts?

A recent survey showed that 21% of job applicants’ resumes in the USA stated fraudulent degrees. So a fifth of job applicants say they have a degree when they in fact haven’t. How can this be happening in 2017?

Deep Learning: the new electricity

Have you ever used Google’s photo search feature? Type in ‘cat’ and it will pretty reliably bring up any cats in your photo collection. It’s not perfect – it mistakes Land Rovers for cats some of the time – but it’s getting better all the time. And that is the point of machine learning. Among much else, machine learning, a subset of which is called deep learning, now powers Google photo search, speech recognition on Android, and video recommendations on YouTube.

Mechatronics: new professional degree in Australia

The term ‘mechatronics’ was coined in 1971 by a Japanese engineer working for the Yaskawa Electric Corporation. As the word suggests, it originally combined mechanical engineering and electronics. But it has grown to encompass other disciplines such as control engineering, computer engineering, telecommunications and systems engineering.