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Wednesday, 9 April 2008

The Top Ten Advances in Materials Science & What will define the next 50 years of Materials Science? THE MATERIALS TODAY ROADMAP CHALLENGE

["THE MATERIALS TODAY CHALLENGE - In Search of Materials Science Foresight- Road Maps throughout the next 50years!"

I posted the abstract of this theme straight away, in "Conversations-[link]" when it was brought to my attention. I feel that it highly deserves of a longer open comment-JA]:

What are the defining discoveries, moments of inspiration, or shifts in understanding that have shaped the dynamic field of materials science we know today? Here are some that Jonathan Wood, Editor, and the editorial team at Materials Today, think are the most significant.

In making their final selection Materials Today Focus on the advances that either changed our lives or are in the process of changing them.

They assembled a list of the top ten advances in materials science over the last 50 years.

The arguable nature of such a perilous exercise are not ignored. Questions such as:

-Should an advance alter all our daily lives, or does fundamentally changing the research arena count?
- What about discoveries that can be clearly attributed to a certain date and investigator?
- How can one best consider those developments that have come about incrementally through the efforts of many ?

Doubts and argument will Remain.

[One theme that haunted me for a time, in my projected web-log series; Materials Chemistry “& Physics”, Materials Science & Engineering cropped up-JA]:

Where does materials science stop and electronics, physics, or chemistry begin?

[I must admit that this question did not appear to me to be an over-riding scientific preoccupation but rather one of organization; (as it probably is to Universities, and to participating scientists dedicated to their disciplinary approach) Of course I am speaking as one from an interdisciplinary field: Metallurgy – Materials –Products (from Condensed mater physics & mechanics of materials through Processes (Chem. Eng) and Products to Market.
In my case this translates as : how much work could be done with my limited personal means and capabilities? What could one (I) aspire to achieve? Conceivably better to abide by the maxim, "Safety in Numbers - and find or build a team, network and achieve.

Perhaps I arrived at an answer which suites me.

My science base is interdisciplinary and my school proud of it’s technical and engineering origins as "A Place of Useful Learning.”(and earning, I can hear one echo). I decided to web-log all aspects as far as possible for the moment breaking down my strategic – management focus web-log “Conversation-on-Innovations” for the moment into two recognised fields “Materials Chemistry & Chemists” (defined) and “ Materials Science, Technology & Engineering (defined) this weblog, and a third “ source of therapy” to relax maybe, from the rigours of the preceding themes, perhaps more cultural, lets say less rigorous but more creative writing “poetry on science, poetry by scientists…by definition in “No_Holds_Bard” an open approach.-JA]

Nevertheless [to their credit-JA], the Materials Today editorial team did aim at coming up with a balanced selection.

In doing so, they wish to start a debate about the discoveries that most mark out today’s materials science. [In fact, this write-up is my first contribution.
More important they asked a crucial “Non-Darwinian” question, (remember “Darwinian approach is essentially a view of the past (Link)]:

What will define the next 50 years of materials science?

[With Materials Today’s chosen time limit of 50 years, the list is of immediate relevance, [as the well known expression goes “the future is today could there be more than a wink at Materials Today?”] It is about how materials science is affecting our world today, right now! [and our Materials World today, leader and associate in France SF2M and the Federation in EU FEMS.
By some co-incidence this is the current time span taken by the International Panel on Climate Change, IPCC. The framework of CC and the long predicted peak in easy to use fossil fuels, is likely to be one of the most if not the important issue and “Road Map – Framework”.

Perhaps we can add a couple of supplementary criteria
“Jobs generated or cash earned or again both?

I believe Materials Today have strongly hinted at what they feel may be the most productive routes to explore, hence their current hindsight fired number one choice:

1. “International Technology Roadmap” for Semiconductors.
N° 1 bis must be :
"The International Panel for Climate Change & Renewable Energy’s “Technology Roadmap.”
Of course there is nothing like “A little help from your friends” (ref. song by The Beetles). eg. assistance from "The Contributing International Communities". This partially answers one of the debating points namely the individual or collective contribution dilemma. If the aim is Societal benefit the collective approach is probably more suitable. This is certainly not intended to be exclusive of individual talent, often exceptional, the James Clerk Maxwell's, The John Bardeen's or again the late Pierre Gille de Genne's of this world, to mention but a very few not already mentioned, or little mentioned in the case of Bardeen, in the HOT TOP TEN!

Footnote I :
I have included a few random thoughts in the following footnotes amenable to criticism and

Science is a Process, Not a Collection of Facts The essence of science, broadly defined, is that it is a systematic approach to figuring out how the world works:

1. Look at the world around you.
2. Come up with an idea for why it might work that way.
3. Test your idea against reality.
4. Tell everybody you know the results of the test.

Put those steps together, over and over, and you have the best method ever devised for increasing our store of reliable knowledge.

"That’s basically it. Not too scary is it? So, why do we seem to have such a vast gulf in understanding between those who eschew science and its proponents?" is the encouraging comment, from David Bradley in Doing-Science following Chad Orzel's What_everyone_should_know_about_science ,and Eva Amsen

In fact I had on older reference, whose clarity and simplicity I liked and posted, but whose link went sour on me. Lucky I re-found it via “The Wayback Machine” I am now able to refresh it and tell you about it. Here is the new link Univ of Oregon "Karen". posted initially in a"Conversations" post in which I first commented upon the theme of limits, according to Gilles Cohen-Tannoudji's treatment (in french) of "The Universal Constants"(in french).
I have added a few more comments which you can fire at:

E = mc^2 is still likely to influence much of our approaches to The "IPCC's awaited Roadmap", as are the clear and simple recipes based on existing technology exposed by Socolow "Wedges" which I tend to label "Wedge-a-War" in my "Conversations" posts or if we move now it will be "Wedge-a- wee-war." "For a man's a man for awe(all) that and awe'(all) that" (R. Burns Auld Scotch's National Bard)

Footnote for memory (TBD)

The Quantum of Action:
Nobel Physics 1918 Max Planck-Lecture

  • energy and matter have their reasons. E=mc^2,
    energy and wasted matter have their reason S
    wasted energy and matter have their reason S

  • Nobel Prize Physics 1921 Einstein-Lecture
    The "Baton – Cohen Tannoudji" “Quantum of cost” that they suggest be called b after Louis Brillouin.
    Where b = h/k whose dimensions are Temperature T°K x Time.
    Such a value would then represent:
    The cost in “quantum” action (h) per quantum of information (k) and thus be a “true quantum of cost” – the smallest physically permissible cost.
    Such physics in which a quantum of cost could exist, would necessarily be probabilistic in essence - in nature, because infinite precision is required to achieve deterministic predictability (a definite value) and this is impossible since infinitely costly (“the sky’s the limit?” or is it now “the skies”?

    Sounds a bit like every day-life? We call things definitive knowing they are not and we agree to a commercial market price and worry about having been done or convince ourselves how good at price, market research or negotiation we are.

    Cohen-Tannoudji suggests that these notions can be applied also to non-quantum Chaos phenomena and gives the well known Chaos Theory example – the “butterfly- effect” or mathematically “sensibility to initial conditions”, whereby non-identical initial conditions no matter how small, “quantum limits h, k ” inevitably lead to evolutions which inevitably diverge one from another. Evolution cannot be predicted over infinite duration unless the precision is infinite! The quantum cost make infinite precision impossible. NB. Such a physical representation of chaos is achieved when h & k both tend to zero (a limit which is neither quantum nor thermodynamic but where b = infinity.)
    Some consequences : All knowledge has a cost b = (fn?) h/k (“fn? to play safe not having studied this subject in the necessary depth for affirmations)
    The incompatibility of “now and always”! That’s life, again!

    High Purity Cr sources for Superalloys

    Energy for th Future:Phil.Trans.A-Vol. 365, N° 1853 / April 15, 2007, curtesy The Royal Soc. London

    Engineered foams and porous materials: Phil Trans A. Vol 364, N° 1838 / 06 curtesy_The R Soc. Lond