Research News: April 2017

Welsh universities announce new national supercomputing research facility

A new £15m supercomputing programme of investment has been announced by universities across Wales.

Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government, ‘Supercomputing Wales’ will enable the country to compete globally for research and innovation that requires state-of-the-art computing facilities to simulate and solve complex scientific problems.

Publication date: 28 April 2017

Fact Check: Do six million people earn less than the living wage?

I’m angry and fed up with the way in which six million people earn less than the living wage.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, interviewed on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show on April 23.

To assess this claim by Jeremy Corbyn, distinguishing various low-wage floors is important. In 2017, the Living Wage Foundation’s higher voluntary Real Living Wage (RLW) is £9.75 an hour in London, £8.45 elsewhere, based on a calculation of living costs.

The government’s compulsory wage floor is lower and covers all employees. For employees aged 25 and over, it’s called the National Living Wage (NLW) and is £7.50 per hour. For younger employees, it’s called the National Minimum Wage, and ranges from £3.50 to £7.05.

Publication date: 27 April 2017

Rhinos should be conserved in Africa, not moved to Australia

This article by Matt Hayward, Senior Lecturer in Conservation, at the School of Environment, Natural Resources & Geography was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Rhinos are one of the most iconic symbols of the African savanna: grey behemoths with armour plating and fearsome horns. And yet it is the horns that are leading to their demise. Poaching is so prolific that zoos cannot even protect them.

Publication date: 27 April 2017

First investigation of eye-tracking in Electronic Gaming Machine play

New research, funded by GambleAware used eye-tracking to investigate how machine players pay attention to Electronic Gaming Machine (EGM) displays in local bookmaker offices.

The research, conducted by Professor Robert Rogers and colleagues at Bangor University's School of Psychology is the first study to use eye-tracking to improve our understanding of how machine players pay attention to roulette and slot games in commercial settings. The study describes the distribution of visual attention towards the game features of roulette and slots, and offers methodology for studying and optimizing the timing, placement and content of harm-minimisation messaging. The data show that problem gamblers look less often at the roulette wheel while placing bets and while it spun, compared to non-problem gamblers, and tended to look away from the machine more frequently. By contrast, in slot games, problem gamblers looked more frequently at amount-won messages.

Publication date: 26 April 2017

Pioneering research into benefit of computer games to treat Parkinson’s Disease

North Wales neuroscientists are researching the potential benefits of brain stimulating computer games in the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease.

The study is being led by researchers at Bangor University’s School of Psychology with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) and neurological experts at the Walton Centre in Liverpool.

They are studying the effects of touch screen “spatial reasoning games” on the part of the brain used to control movement in Parkinson’s patients.

Publication date: 25 April 2017

Teaming up for cheaper energy from ocean tides

Oceanographers at Bangor University’s School of Ocean Sciences are launching a major project to study tidal turbulence at the Menai Strait in Wales. Just how can this project help reduce development costs, leading to cheaper energy from the tides?

Ocean energy represents a vast and largely untapped renewable energy resource. The global market for marine energy has been estimated to be worth around £76 billion between 2016 and 2050, according to numbers released by the Carbon Trust.

To access this source of energy, oceanographers at Bangor University’s School of Ocean Sciences have been awarded two major grants totalling £230k to study ocean turbulence. The aim is to help improve the design and operation of tidal energy capture devices.

Publication date: 25 April 2017

Want to stay mentally healthy in older age? Stimulate your brain in early life

Stimulating the brain by taking on leadership roles at work or staying on in education help people stay mentally healthy in later life, according to new research.

The large-scale investigation published in the journal PLOS Medicine and led by Prof Linda Clare of the University of Exeter, recently of Bangor University’s School of Psychology used data from more than 2,000 mentally fit people over the age of 65, and examined the theory that experiences in early or mid life which challenge the brain make people more resilient to changes resulting from age or illness – they have higher “cognitive reserve”.

Publication date: 24 April 2017

Bloomageddon: seven clever ways bluebells win the woodland turf war

The appearance of vivid bluebell carpets in British woodlands is a sure and spectacular sign of spring. Bluebells – Hyacinthoides non-scripta (L.) Chouard ex Rothm – are Britain’s favourite wildflower and particularly fine carpets attract visitors to well-known sites such as Kew Gardens in London and Coed Cefn in Powys, Wales.

This article by Vera Thoss, Lecturer in Chemistry, Bangor University was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article

Publication date: 10 April 2017

Celebrated 'English' poet Edward Thomas was one of Wales' finest writers

Shortly after 7am on April 9 1917, 39-year-old writer Edward Thomas was killed by a shell during the Battle of Arras in northern France. He left a body of mostly unpublished work that has since cemented his place as one of Britain’s greatest poets.

This article by Andrew Webb, Senior Lecturer in English Literature, was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Publication date: 7 April 2017

There are no two ways about it, grey squirrels are bad for the British countryside

According to some animal rights groups the grey squirrel is a victim of circumstance. They say it has been made a scapegoat for regional red squirrel population extinctions and claim that loss of the reds is caused entirely coincidentally by habitat change. They suggest the true facts are being hidden and scientific research being intentionally misinterpreted.

This article by Craig Shuttleworth, Honorary Visiting Research Fellow, Bangor University was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Publication date: 6 April 2017

Bangor University research is set to assist newly protected species

We know that trade and transport of ivory is strictly controlled to safeguard the elephants, and that other animal by-products such as the use of rhino horn is also controlled in an attempt to clamp down on the poaching and illegal trade which affects some of our most threatened species.

The list extends beyond those charismatic species that we’re probably all familiar with.

The organisation responsible for regulating and monitoring trade in wildlife products is the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), to which 183 countries are signatories.

Another group of species, the devil rays, has now joined that list following a recent CITES meeting, and as of today (4 April 2017) the new regulations will be implemented. One Bangor University student is to play a part in the safeguarding of the devil ray and the already protected manta ray.

Publication date: 4 April 2017

The latest developments in solar energy to be highlighted at Bangor University

Bangor University's School of Electronic Engineering will host to the Solar Energy Society’s PVSAT 13 (Photovoltaic Science, Application and Technology) conference this month (5-7 April), bringing together the brightest and best scientists in the field of solar for the most important conference on solar energy research in the UK.

Around 5% of our electricity is produced from solar energy in the UK, with a 25% increase in solar energy production in recent years and a constantly reducing production cost, solar is one of the cheapest forms of energy production so the future looks bright for solar. It remains a popular research area in the science and engineering sector of UK universities.

Publication date: 3 April 2017