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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...


Science fiction meets fact — Superman’s eye lasers are developed in St Andrews

May 1 2018

Superman’s ability to shoot laser beams from his eyes has come a step closer to reality, with discoveries made by a research team at the University of St Andrews. It could be possible to attach an ultra-thin membrane laser to the eye using organic semiconductors. Unlike the Man of Steel’s ocular weaponry, the new technique could be harnessed for security, biophotonics and photomedicine. Writing in Nature Communications researchers say the threshold of their membrane lasers is compatible with the requirements for safe operation in the human eye. The team of Professors Malte Gather, Ifor Samuel and Graham Turnbull were also able to demonstrate ocular lasing using a cow eye. Professor Gather of the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University said: “In ancient Greece, Plato believed that visual perception is mediated by ‘eye beams’ – beams actively sent out by the eyes to probe the environment. “Plato’s emission theory has of course long been refuted, but superheroes with lasers in their eyes live on in popular culture and comic books. “Our work represents a new milestone in laser development and, in particular, points the way to how lasers can be used in inherently soft and ductile environments, be it in wearable sensors or as an authentication feature on bank notes.” Professor Samuel said: “By floating a thin plastic film off a substrate we have made some of the world’s smallest and lightest lasers and put them on contact lenses and bank notes.” They say the devices could be used as flexible and wearable security tags. “By varying the materials and adjusting the grating structures of the laser, the emission can be designed to show a specific series of sharp lines on a flat background – the ones and zeros of a digital barcode,” explained Markus Karl, who worked on the new lasers as part of his PhD.

Business news

Andy Samuel appointed chief executive of new Oil and Gas Authority

November 7 2014

Senior BG Group executive Andy Samuel has been named as the inaugural chief executive of the Oil and Gas Authority. The new Aberdeen-based industry regulator will come on-stream in April and will be responsible for implementing the recommendations of the Wood Review and maximising recovery on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS). The announcement of Mr Samuel’s appointment came as Energy Secretary Ed Davey issued a call to the industry to submit its views on the Maximising Economic Recovery UK strategy, the scope of OGA’s regulatory powers and sanctions regime, and the cost recovery mechanism. Mr Samuel has been appointed for a fixed three-year term, with a further three-year option depending on performance. He said he was looking forward to leading the new industry watchdog as the North Sea entered a new era. “I know first-hand the challenges industry currently faces and am confident that implementing the vision set out in the Wood Review will create a strong future for the UK’s oil and gas industry,” Mr Samuel said. “I have much enjoyed my time at BG Group, with a lot to be grateful for, and am now looking forward to establishing the OGA and setting its priorities in the New Year.” Sir Ian Wood author of the Wood Review, which estimated that a further four billion barrels of extra oil could be recovered from the UKCS through better industry collaboration and the adoption of new extraction techniques said that Mr Samuel’s new role was central to the long-term effectiveness of the new industry regulator. He said: “The OGA will need to work very closely with industry over the coming years, and Andy’s impressive experience and the significant credibility he holds within the industry will put him in a very strong position to encourage the industry collaboration that is needed as we enter the next phase of the UKCS.” The new CEO has spent the past 19 years with BG Group and has been managing director for European exploration and production since 2012. He was previously president and general manager of the US Exco Appalachia joint venture, where he had responsibility for BG Group’s Marcellus shale play and associated developments, had also served as chief operating officer of BG Trinidad and Tobago, and was a board member of Atlantic LNG. The Energy Secretary welcomed Mr Samuel’s appointment as he opened a new industry consultation, which will run until December 31, on the Wood Review recommendations. He said: “It’s vital for Government to work closely with industry to maintain Britain’s energy security, and Andy is superbly placed to steer the OGA to maximise the economic recovery of our oil and gas resources. “We’re also asking industry for their views to make sure we implement the Wood Review recommendations in the most efficient and practical way.” Chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said Mr Samuel’s new role would not only see him shape the future of North Sea oil extraction but also play a key role in the development of the wider UK economy. “Oil and gas is one of the UK’s most valuable industries, supporting 450,000 jobs in Scotland and across the country,” he said.

Business news

Ambicare Health to market skin cancer device worldwide

July 26 2010

The company behind the world's first light-emitting sticking plaster for skin cancer treatment is poised to begin marketing its device around the world. Ambicare Health was founded by Professor Robert Ferguson, from Dundee University, and Professor Ifor Samuel, from St Andrews University, to tap into the growing market for photodynamic therapy (PDT). This involves a drug being applied to the skin and then activated by a light source, causing it to destroy the cancer cells. Non-malignant skin cancer is one of the world's fastest growing diseases and the market for PDT could be worth £1 billion by 2015. Normally the therapy has to be done in hospital, but Ambicare has developed a wearable device, called the Ambulight, that allows patients to get on with their normal lives. The company has just completed a £1.7 million fund-raising exercise to enable it to start rolling out the product around the UK and overseas. Supporters include Longbow Capital, the Scottish Venture Fund run by Scottish Enterprise, and publishers DC Thomson. It has also found a distribution partner and named a new sales and marketing director, Gary Conroy, who has 20 years' experience in the industry. Chief executive Ian Muirhead said, "I am delighted to announce both the completion of this fund-raising and Gary's appointment at this crucial time for Ambicare Health. "Feedback from dermatologists on the Ambulight PDT has been excellent and indicates that we have a product that will make a real difference in how patients are treated for non-melanoma skin cancer. "We believe that Gary's experience will be invaluable as we commercialise our technology and target widespread adoption of the Ambulight PDT both in the UK and overseas."


Pensions debate ‘still lacks clarity’

October 25 2013

Debate about pension provision in an independent Scotland still lacks clarity in key areas, according to a professional body. The status of the country within Europe and what currency will be used are among the main issues at stake, the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) suggests. It follows the publication of the Scottish Government’s own pensions document. Martin Potter, leader of the Scottish board at IFoA, said: “Scotland becoming an independent country would have a significant impact on financial services, including pensions and insurance, the regulation of the sector and its future growth. “Whether a referendum results in an independent Scotland or not, it is right that discussion about how change could affect Scotland happens now. “Across the sector, we are still limited by the lack of clarity to date on the status of an independent Scotland in relation to the EU and the many financial implications of that uncertainty, all of which need to be considered.” The paper looks at challenges facing financial services and at cross-border schemes, raising concern about the future of underfunded pension plans. In April the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland said changes to pension rules with Scottish independence could force substantial costs on employers with unfunded schemes.


War memorial name corrected 97 years after death

April 15 2013

A retired doctor has won a fight to have her great uncle’s name spelled correctly on a village memorial 97 years after he died in France aged 20 during the First World War. Alison Corfield said the mis-spelling of Private George Samuel’s name as “Samuels” on the memorial at Shepreth, Cambridgeshire, caused “great distress” to his parents. Parish councillors in Shepreth have decided to have the final “s” removed after a plea from Mrs Corfield, 67, of Shrewsbury, Shropshire. Shepreth Parish Councilchairman Donna Thomas said a stonemason had given advice and changes would be made. “We will be making the amendment to the war memorial and will be covering the cost,” she said. “We have also spoken to the local vicar and she has said that once the correction has been made there will be a re-dedication and we will be inviting the family to attend.”

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

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.


Science celebrated at opening of St Andrews University’s £3.7m physics lab

May 22 2015

A world-leading research laboratory has been unveiled at St Andrews University. The £3.7 million physics facility, launched by education secretary Angela Constance, will put the Fife institution at the forefront of research into superconductors and light-emitting materials. One of just a handful of its kind across the globe and the most advanced in the UK, the ultra-low vibration laboratory will allow individual atoms to be studied using custom-built microscopes. It will allow more research into how lasers and optoelectronics can be used in areas such as solar power generation and healthcare. Ms Constance said: “Scotland’s universities are among the world’s best and enjoy a great international reputation with four universities in the top 200 in the world, including St Andrews. “The opening of this unique, new ultra-low vibration facility reflects the very best of academic research in Scotland and the university can be very pleased with what it has created here. “A strong, vibrant and diverse economy is essential to our national prosperity and in creating the wealth to support high-quality public services. “Universities and facilities such as this play a key role in providing research that could contribute hugely to our economy while also ensuring that high-quality learning opportunities are on offer.” As well as the laboratory, a clean room and nonfabrication facility have been created, jointly paid for by the Scottish Funding Council and the university through the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance. The laboratory will allow imaging and study of atoms in advanced materials, such as super conductors and quantum materials for next-generation technology. The clean room will provide a clean environment for development of new electronic and phototonic materials and devices. Professor Ifor Samuel, director of research in the university’s school of physics and astronomy, said: “2015 is the International Year of Light and we are very excited to have these new facilities to advance our research on lasers and optoelectronic materials, enabling us to explore their applications in solar power, displays, communications and healthcare.”

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