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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km


Science Live event encourages Dundonians to stay healthy

February 2 2015

With New Year resolutions now a month old, Dundonians have been encouraged to stick with their healthy plans. A city centre event held in the Wellgate Shopping Centre at the weekend attempted to encourage Dundonians to discover more about their hearts and how to keep them healthy, as part of the first Saturday Science Live event of the year. Dundee Science Centre staff showcased their exciting and hands-on Healthy Hearts activities to both adults and children and visitors of all ages gained an insight into the function and importance of hearts, healthy and unhealthy foods and what can go wrong through smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise. Gym Fit4less also dropped in with some timed mini-challenges from hopping, star jumps and sit-ups, to running on the spot and skipping. Meanwhile, a Stem (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) ambassador from Ninewells Hospital ran activities on insulin and diabetes. Exhibition and community engagement manager Rebecca Erskine said: “At this time of year, many of us are still in New Year resolution mode but we’re hoping to show visitors that keeping healthy isn’t just about short-lived resolutions it’s a life choice and can actually be easier and more enjoyable than we might realise.” Wellgate manager Jon Walton said: “Once again, we are delighted to be hosting another fun-packed Saturday Science Live but this time with a serious health message which will engage both children and adults. “If we can encourage some of our shoppers to not only enjoy our activities but also explore how to feel healthier this year by making a few simple changes to their day-to-day lives, that will be a brilliant outcome.”

UK & World

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk


VIDEO: Do you know how much sugar is in your food?

January 29 2016

It has become public health enemy number one in recent months. Sugar is currently the topic of a heated debate with calls from Food Standards Scotland (FSS) to introduce a tax on the ingredient. A recent report from the food body said that “radical change” was needed to address Scottish eating habits, which have led to two out of three adults being classed as overweight or obese. It added that Scottish people over-estimate the healthiness of their diet, with up to 16% of their daily energy intake coming from sugar. This week The Courier took to the streets, quizzing Dundonians on their knowledge of ingredients in foods widely considered to be healthy. We asked members of the public to line up a fruit yoghurt, a cereal bar, a tin of tomato soup, a bottle of salad dressing and a bar of organic black chocolate in order of sugar content (from most to least sugary) without looking at the labels. Next, we revealed the actual sugar content of each item a result that proved to be eye-opening for our participants, most of whom were unaware of the so-called ‘hidden sugar’ in ‘healthy’ foods. The item with the highest amount of sugar per 100g was the cereal bar (30g of sugar), followed by the yoghurt and dark chocolate (both 13.5g of sugar), the salad dressing (10.5g) and the tomato soup (4.8g). None of the people quizzed managed to place the items in the correct order and were surprised to hear that the yoghurt and the cereal bar in particular were high in sugar. While avoiding sweets and fizzy drinks is an obvious step towards healthier eating, ‘hidden sugar’ in other everyday foods can make it difficult to track how much is being consumed. The FSS has now called for the food sector to be given 12 months to come up with a way of reducing sugar consumption if it doesn’t want to face a sugar tax. FSS chairman Ross Finnie said: “There can be few in any doubt now as to the gravity of the health time-bomb related to poor diet and obesity facing our nation. “Individual responsibility around food choices, exercise and activity levels remain important, but this cannot be left to individuals alone.” Meanwhile, Dundee Science Centre is bringing the issue to the attention of shoppers at the Wellgate Centre today. The Saturday Science LIVE event, aimed at both adults and children, is taking place on Level 2 between 1 and 4pm. Visitors have the chance to test their knowledge of how much sugar is contained in different drinks by being asked to match them up with tubs containing the corresponding amount of sugar. There is also the chance to explore the insides of ‘Stuffee’ the rag doll, and learn about the role of human organs. Rebecca Erskine, exhibition and community engagement manager at the science centre, said: “The human body is an amazing machine and understanding how it works is key to helping us keep it working well!”

Farming news

Moredun makes case to be home of key veterinary surveillance lab

December 10 2013

The Moredun Research Institute has made a strong pitch to become the home of Scotland’s new central veterinary surveillance laboratory. Speaking to the agricultural press ahead of the release of the institute’s annual report, chief executive Julie Fitzpatrick took the chance to point out the benefits of using facilities which already exist at the Moredun site. Professor Fitzpatrick has been widely admired over the years for her tenacity and determination to keep the Moredun as a pre-eminent force in the science of animal health. Her point has always been that although the institute may be small in global terms, it has the ability to deliver top-class services. The need for a centralised veterinary surveillance laboratory was identified in the Kinnaird Report of 2011. Compiled under the chairmanship of former NFU Scotland president John Kinnaird and presented to Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochead, the report made a number of fundamental recommendations aimed at improving veterinary surveillance, one of the most critical being the need for a central laboratory to eventually replace the eight currently in operation around the country. Prof Fitzpatrick, who clearly has the backing of Moredun Foundation chairman Ian Duncan Millar, made a strong case for the new laboratory to be sited at Moredun. A large, secure laboratory space previously used for BSE testing is available, and infrastructure modifications would be minimal compared to building a new laboratory on a greenfield site. Moredun also has scientific staff available with the skills required for diagnostic work. The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratory Agency (AHLVA) already uses the diagnostic facilities at Moredun. “We suggest that Scottish Rural College (SRUC) staff should also use this existing facility for centralised diagnostics so that staff may share resources to the benefit of both the tax payer and the livestock-owning communities,” said Prof Fitzpatrick. “This initiative would bring significant cost savings as there would be no requirement for funding of new specialised infrastructure that would replicate existing facilities. “The number of administrative, support and laboratory staff could be optimised over time for all three surveillance organisations SRUC, AHVLA and MRI with a reduction in recurrent costs,” she said. “Another benefit would be that specialised veterinary and animal science staff involved in diagnostics would be located on a single site, which will produce savings in the longer term. “Reporting could be undertaken by a team approach by the three surveillance organisations to ensure rapid and cost-effective communications with animal keepers, veterinary practitioners, Government and national and international bodies. “Succession planning and training of specialised staff would therefore be easier, and the sustainability of surveillance underpinned. “Specialised laboratory facilities are available at the Moredun Research Institute in the same building, including those for pathology, detection of parasites, viruses, bacteria, prions, affecting livestock, avian, and equine species.” It is no doubt a strong case but there is sure to be competition, and some of it from just a stone’s throw away from the Moredun’s home at the Pentland Science Centre at Bush south of Edinburgh. The Kinnaird Report certainly mentioned Moredun as the home for the new laboratory, but it also suggested the Edinburgh (Royal Dick) Veterinary School which is also at Bush. The Roslin Institute is only a mile away, as is Edinburgh University bioscience centre. Glasgow Vet School may also be interested, and of course SRUC and its SAC Veterinary Consulting division already have an interest as operators of the present regional veterinary laboratories. The Kinnaird Report suggested that these laboratories, including one at Perth, should not be closed immediately and that they should continue to offer post-mortem facilities, with samples then being sent to the central laboratory for diagnosis. The two-year time lag since the presentation of the Kinnaird Report may have suggested to the casual onlooker that it had been shelved, but it appears that is not the case. Mr Lochhead has decisions to make quite soon. The MRI team clearly want to be part of the solution when it comes to improved veterinary surveillance.

Motoring news

Form an orderly Q for Audi SUV

August 10 2016

First there was the Q7. Then the Q5 and Q3. All have been a phenomenal success for Audi. I’d be surprised if that script changes when the Q2 arrives in November. Audi’s baby SUV is available to order now with prices starting at £22,380. Can’t quite stretch to that? Don’t worry, an entry level three-cylinder 1.0 litre version will be available later this year with a cover tag of £20,230. From launch, there are three trim levels available for the Q2 called SE, Sport and S Line. The range-topping Edition #1 model will be available to order from next month priced from £31,170. While the entry-level 113bhp 1.0-litre unit isn’t available right away, engines you can order now include a 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel and 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol unit, both with manual or S tronic automatic transmissions. Also joining the Q2 line-up from September is the 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 148bhp or 187bhp. This unit comes with optional Quattro all-wheel drive. A 2.0 litre petrol with Quattro and S tronic joins the range next year. Standard equipment for the new Audi Q2 includes a multimedia infotainment system with rotary/push-button controls, supported with sat-nav. Audi’s smartphone-friendly interface, 16in alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and heated and electric mirrors are all also standard for the Audi. Along with the optional Audi virtual cockpit and the head-up display, the driver assistance systems for the Audi Q2 also come from the larger Audi models – including the Audi pre sense front with pedestrian recognition that is standard. The system recognises critical situations with other vehicles as well as pedestrians crossing in front of the vehicle, and if necessary it can initiate hard braking – to a standstill at low speeds. Other systems in the line-up include adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function, traffic jam assist, the lane-departure warning system Audi side assist, the lane-keeping assistant Audi active lane assist, traffic sign recognition and rear cross-traffic assist.


Dundee Science Festival patron Sir Philip Cohen shoots from the hip

October 25 2010

As Professor Sir Philip Cohen gets ready to launch the Dundee Science Festival, Jack McKeown examines his career and gets to know the man thought of as one of Britain's top scientists. In 1971, Professor Sir Philip Cohen then just plain old Dr Philip Cohen arrived in Dundee. Over the decades since he has single-handedly developed a branch of science called protein phosphorylation. Now, the drug market developed on the back of discoveries he made is worth £10 million a year. They include Gleevec, which has transformed a rapidly fatal form of leukaemia into a manageable disease. Because of his work, many people are alive who would otherwise be dead. Does consideration of the momentous outcomes resulting from the discoveries he has made ever make him feel giddy? "Giddy?" he exclaims. "Of course not. I'm just a scientist. What gets me going is the lab work, making little discoveries that slowly add up to a big discovery. "Of course, the fact that drugs have been developed which have kept people alive is a heartening thing, but it's the science part of it that I enjoy." As the city's greatest living scientist, it's fitting that Sir Philip should be patron of the Dundee Science Festival, which runs from November 1"“14. He'll be kicking the festival off with a talk on Thursday. "I don't prepare for talks, I like to shoot from the hip," he jests, before elaborating. "Actually, this will be a variation on a talk I gave in the Pacific north-west last April. "It was the 90th birthday of my former mentor Edmund Fischer, who I worked with in Seattle for two years. I gave a straight scientific talk at his birthday and then a general talk to the public." Sir Philip will be telling his audience about drug targets in the 21st century. "It's very important to explain your research to the public. It's easy to get bogged down in scientific jargon and technical terms, so you have to be careful to explain your research in simple terms that make sense to people. So next week I hope to give a flavour of how we go about solving problems, and how our research has helped develop treatments for diseases including cancer."Early careerBorn in Middlesex in 1945, Sir Philip (65) went to University College London where he was awarded a BSc with first class honours in 1966 and a PhD in 1969. He spent two years at the University of Washington before arriving at Dundee University, where he remains to this day. Since his arrival at the university, he has developed the College of Life Sciences from a converted stable block housing 11 scientists to an internationally renowned facility with 800 staff from 53 countries. His research has been devoted to the role of protein phosphorylation in cell regulation and human disease, a process that controls almost all aspects of cell life. His contributions to this area include working out over a 25-year period how insulin stimulates the synthesis of glycogen in muscle. A Royal Society Research Professor since 1984, he was knighted in the Queen's birthday honours in 1998. Next to a keen and inquisitive mind, probably the most important attribute to have in Sir Philip's field is patience. "The timescales involved can be very long," he says. "They are getting progressively shorter as technology advances, but developing scientific research takes time. "As far as my own particular field is concerned, I started it in 1969 and continued since I came to Dundee in 1971. The first phone call I received from a pharmaceutical company was in 1994. So it took 23 years of work before the commercial world got interested. "That's why governments must be prepared to support basic fundamental research for a sustained period of time, because it may take years or even decades before a field of research reaches the stage of maturity where it becomes obvious how it can be used to improve health and create wealth." Waiting for his research to become commercial wasn't nearly as frustrating as it sounds, he explains. "I wasn't just sitting there for 23 years waiting for the phone to ring. I was busy doing research.Archimedean moment"The reason I got into this wasn't to attract the attention of pharmaceutical companies though it's nice when that happens it's making the little research breakthroughs that I get excited about." The ancient Greek scholar Archimedes is reputed to have proclaimed "Eureka" upon stepping into the bath and realising the volume of water displaced must be exactly equal to the volume of his submerged body. Overjoyed that the volume of irregular objects could be measured with precision, he is said to have leapt from the water and run naked through the streets of Syracuse. Few modern scientists have Archimedes moments, Sir Philip says. "Research isn't about one instant breakthrough. Normally if you have one big idea that arrives whole and in one piece, it's rather a shallow insight. "The type of problems scientists are trying to solve these days are too big to just sit down and think through. Our brains don't have the capacity to do that. Scientists work by carrying out experiments and analysing the results. After the results are analysed, they often raise new questions which are investigated through more experiments. "I wrote an article about my life for the American Journal of Biological Chemistry. It was called Nibbling at the Edges. That's what we as scientists do. We take little tiny bites from the edges of the problem, and the hope is that by nibbling away from all sides we will eventually get to the middle." One of the biggest changes over the course of Sir Philip's career has been the rise of the computer. "The gulf between the technologies we use today and those we used when I was starting out is vast. I spent 25 years working out how the hormone insulin works and when I look back on the technology we were using it seems very primitive." And the biggest discovery in the field of life sciences? "Unravelling the structure of the human genome is the blueprint for everything." Although Sir Philip argues science is no more complex than it ever was, there's no doubting it's becoming ever more specialised, which makes keeping non-scientific people abreast of developments increasingly difficult. "One of the things I love about my area is it's a very general area. I work with the biological mechanisms that regulate how all living cells control almost all of their functions. It allows me to keep a very general perspective. There are some areas where people are investigating minutiae of one tiny aspect of science. I've always enjoyed being able to move from one field to another. "After solving how insulin works I've moved on to quite a different problem of how the body's immune system regulates viruses. Each cell in our bodies contains hundreds of thousands of parts. If just one of those parts goes wrong we can become ill. "What's amazing isn't that we do sometimes get unwell, it's just how seldom things do go wrong. Given the complexity of it all, it really is a wonder we last more than a few days." The 20th century was an era where our knowledge of ourselves and the world we live in expanded at a pace never seen before. Does Sir Philip expect such a rate of discovery to continue? "I think the last 50 years have been the scientific golden age. I think we're now entering the applied age. "The last 50 years were all about finding things out and discovering theories. The next 50 years will be all about applying the ideas we've had over the last 50 for the creation of wealth and the improvement of health."Professor Sir Philip Cohen will be launching the Dundee Science Festival with a talk on Thursday (October 28). Discovery of New Drug Targets for the Treatment of Disease in the 21st Century, takes place at the University of Dundee's Dalhousie Building from 6-7pm, followed by a wine reception. Admission is free and does not need to be booked in advance. Dundee Science Festival runs from November 1"“14. The website dundeesciencefestival.org has more information for anyone interested.


Vitamin D ‘could boost dogs receiving care’

May 3 2016

Pet dogs are taking part in a research project looking at the effects of vitamin D on their health. In the first of the studies, vets are assessing dogs that have had surgery to repair damage to their knee ligaments, with all of the animals involved having been injured spontaneously - typically while on a walk with their owners. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh's Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies aim to improve health outcomes for pets receiving veterinary care. The team will explore whether dogs can also produce vitamin D in their skin after exposure to the sun, in the same way that people do. Previous studies have shown that animals with lower levels of vitamin D in their blood often show signs of increased inflammation. The team will examine whether inflammation linked to reduced intake can hamper dogs' recovery from surgery. Blood samples will be taken before and after surgery to allow the team to measure their levels and any symptoms of inflammation. They will then monitor the dogs to see whether having higher levels of vitamin D before surgery has a positive effect on their recovery. If a link is found, researchers will test if supplements can help to lower inflammation and improve chances of better recovery from surgery. In a separate study, vets will investigate how dogs acquire vitamin D in the first place, taking blood samples to examine whether levels fluctuate with the changing seasons. The findings will help to determine whether dogs are getting enough vitamin D in their diet throughout the year. Dr Richard Mellanby, head of veterinary clinical research and companion animal sciences, said: "Vitamin D plays a vital role in bone health and there is growing evidence that it has other health benefits for people and animals. "Our research aims to understand whether dogs' vitamin D levels fluctuate throughout the year, which is important for making sure we're feeding our pets the right diet. "We're also interested in how vitamin D affects recovery after surgery and whether having less vitamin D is a cause or consequence of inflammation. "Untangling this complex relationship will help us to devise new approaches to improve the welfare of animals after surgery."