Monthly Archives: May 2015

Engineers sustain society

Tim Butterfield receiving his prize from Incorporation of Hammermen Deacon Professor David Harrison

Tim Butterfield receiving his prize from Incorporation of Hammermen Deacon Professor David Harrison

A few weeks ago I wrote about tag-lines for promoting engineering [see post entitled ‘Life takes engineering‘ on April 22nd, 2015]. A young undergraduate student, Tim Butterfield from the University of Sheffield has produced possibly the best one that I have come across: ‘Engineers sustain society’ in his outstanding video made to complement his awarding winning essay on the subject ‘Can engineers make a beneficial contribution to society?’ It won first prize at the 20th Anniversary Student Awards of the UK Engineering Professors’ Council last month.

Prince Philip wrote on almost the same subject earlier this year in the New Scientist. He said that ‘engineering has made a greater positive difference to human life than almost any other human endeavour’.  I don’t think that’s an exaggeration but then I am biased. So, ‘engineers sustain society’ is a good paraphrase.

Now watch Tim’s short video.


Sleep reinforces connections

alarm clockFor many students this is examination season and the temptation to study twenty-four hours a day is high.  However, recently reported research has implied that an extra three to four hours of sleep over as little as two days can restore memories.  This implies that a good strategy for exam preparation is to reduce revision in the 48 hours before an exam and sleep instead.

Researchers report that sleep helps the brain to reinforce connections between brain cells, which encode important memories, and to remove connections associated with useless information. Of course from an exam preparation perspective, this does imply that you need to have been studying during the course and hence have memories to reinforce. If you haven’t then stop reading this blog and carry on revising –  if necessary, all night!

For the older folks amongst my readers who sometimes feel they are suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s, having an early night or a late morning lie-in might really restore memories.


The Hindu, Saturday 25th April, 2015, page 12

Keene AC & Joiner WJ, Neurodegeneration: Paying it off with sleep, Current Biology, 25(6):R234-236, 2015