Wow. That’s the right word, when exposed to the astounding spread of world-leading science and engineering to be found at Manchester. Though the diversity presented here is evident, some quite amazing cross-disciplinary threads are clear, uniting our people.
We have people using the same 200-year old mathematical theorem to hunt for sterile neutrinos, and to model the transmission of the flu virus. We have people working on formal proof of properties in complex systems as diverse as neural pathways and smart grids, inspired by a quote about life and death from an ancient Roman philosopher. And, we have people developing new approaches to model multi-phase liquids using high performance computing.
Interdisciplinary work is core to Manchester’s mission, however it is clear that the discipline fundamentals certainly do not go untended.
In a rigorous empirical study, Manchester scientists compiled and analysed a database of 30,000 fungal species, finding strong evidence they can travel the full span of the planet, being found anywhere from North to South Pole. In a beautiful parallel, an impressive 10-year field experiment shows how diversity of plant species is key to maintaining the physical structure of soils.
When looking at the theoretical foundations of “cost-sensitive” predictive models for data science, Manchester computer scientists found that twenty years of international research effort is called into question, and point the way to a significantly more elegant solution. Manchester mathematicians have found deep links between tropical mathematics and algebraic geometry, with implications that will likely reverberate for decades in pure mathematics.
My own field being Computer Science, I was pleased to see an elegant thread of activity enabling future computing devices. New superfast electronics will undoubtedly be inspired by two Manchester papers: using graphene as the foundation of future superfast electronics and promising speeds orders of magnitude beyond silicon chips. New software compilation principles are introduced with an award-winning approach to “scalable task parallelism”, where software processes are automatically distributed across heterogeneous computing platforms, from mobile phones to supercomputers.
And of course, underpinning all such future technology is the need for energy. Manchester is at the forefront of energy as a science. We have research which both makes nuclear reactors more efficient using carbon dioxide turbines and advances our understanding how to clean up radioactive waste via analysis of ferrihydrite formation.
So, with no further ado, I leave you to your reading – I hope you find the same “wow” factor in these papers. The future of science and engineering is within these pages.