Innovation news in brief: Monster stars; defence; materials science; Internet of Things

The Hubble space telescope has identified nine new monster stars, each 100 times bigger than the Sun

Hubble identifies new monster stars

Astronomers have identified nine monster stars which are over 100 times the mass of the Sun using the Hubble space telescope.

The discovery of the star cluster named R136 is the largest sample of very massive stars identified to date and has raised many new questions about the formation of massive stars.

The detected stars, discovered by an international team of scientists led by researchers from the University of Sheffield, are not only extremely massive, but also exceptionally bright and together the nine massive stars outshine the Sun by a factor of 30 million.

Prof Paul Crowther of the University of Sheffield’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and lead author of the study, said: “Once again, our work demonstrates that, despite being in orbit for over 25 years, there are some areas of science for which Hubble is still uniquely capable.

“The ability to distinguish ultraviolet light from such an exceptionally crowded region into its component parts, resolving the signatures of individual stars, was only made possible with the instruments aboard Hubble."

Wanted: Technologies to detect and treat hearing loss and tinnitus

A competition to find technologies that can detect and treat hearing loss and tinnitus in military service personnel has been launched.

Many employees in the UK and worldwide are exposed to potentially harmful noise levels at work, but in military service it's loud, impulsive noise that's a specific occupational hazard. Effects can be short term or chronic, resulting in permanent hearing loss and debilitating tinnitus. It can have adverse consequences for the individual's operational service and, in some instances, can be life changing.

The CDE-themed competition has two challenges:

  1. Monitor and diagnose: Proof-of-concept research proposals to develop technologies to identify those at risk of injury to hearing, diagnose hearing loss early, and objectively measure tinnitus.
  2. Treat and restore: Proof-of-concept research proposals to develop interventions to stop hearing deterioration and/or restore hearing.

The competition closes on 21 April 2016 at 5pm. Further details and call documentation can be found via CDE's website

Materials Sciences Institute Conference

Businesses with an interest in materials science are invited to an event to foster collaboration and celebrate the formation of Lancaster University’s Materials Science Institute, which unites chemists, physicists, engineers, computer scientists, environmental scientists, designers and social scientists.

The two-day conference, which takes place on March 22-23 at Lancaster Conference Centre, Lancaster University, features a series of short talks from academia, the public sector, and industry, alongside an exhibition of research and businesses, wine reception, and dinner.

Talks focus on four themes - photonics and nanostructures, quantum sciences, artificial materials, and chemical and biological materials. Speakers include representatives from the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, the EPSRC, and Hitachi. Guided tours of facilities are also available.

For further information and to register please click here.

Data boost at York Science Park

York Science Park has become the city’s first 1Gb-enabled business park.

It follows a period of investment and development on infrastructure to further expand York Data Service's internet offering to all businesses at York Science Park.

Offering internet connectivity speeds of up to 10 times faster than any previous package offered by the firm, Mark Fordyce, managing director, York Data Services said: "The need for great connectivity is rapidly growing and as the lifeblood for any business, we have invested in upgrading our network and connecting up every business on York Science Park who can now take advantage our next generation gigabit services.”

The first resident to sign up to the gigabit speed connectivity package was Bam Nuttall Ltd. Contracts manager Johann Boshoff said: "The facility allows us to securely and reliably access our off-site systems. The 1GB system also allows us to utilise Skype-for-Business and other computer based collaboration systems without any difficulty, reducing travel and accommodation related costs and improving productivity."

Public "very concerned" about IoT security

Despite the increasingly widespread adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, almost three quarters of consumers don’t know how to secure their connected devices, new research suggests.

New research from mobile and internet security firm BullGuard also suggests 66 per cent of consumers are “very concerned” about hacks and breaches against their IoT devices.

“Consumers are clearly not equipped to handle the myriad of security risks presented by connected devices,” said Paul Lipman, CEO of BullGuard. “With devices such as security cameras, alarm systems and door locks now being connected to the internet, physical security is becoming as much of a consideration for consumers as data security. Keeping these devices secure is absolutely imperative.”