Wednesday 30 May 2012

Paper of the Year Award 2011

Our Paper of the Year Award goes to:

Michael Harder of the Office of Interdisciplinary Sciences (Germany) who argued the case for using the developing science of complex systems to help understand the interactions now occurring in the financial system.  In a most thought-provoking presentation he showed how the new science can explain the inter-connectedness of the current crises of debt, inflation, population movements, and poverty and suggested the need for massive changes in the way we work, our currencies, production methods and Eurozone politics.  Along the way, the following points were notable:
·         Modern physics suggests the world comprises logical islands in an ocean of chaos and probability.  We prefer the logical and believe in causality, which leads to specialization. 
·         Specialists dont recognize the wider reality.  They feel their island is the only correct one,  whereas many correct islands must be connected to perceive reality. This requires more complex thinking than were used to.
·         Order and Chaos are the key attractors with entropy leading to chaos and action leading to order. 
·         Ordered systems tend to deteriorate into chaotic systems and the chaotic tends to order.  The result is a natural balance best described by Darwinism.
·         Darwinism is essential for any company management.

However, reward of the fittest eventually leads to a growing population hitting system boundaries where the favoured species runs into the limits of its environment and risks crashing if it fails to correct its growth and adapt. (Dont try to work against nature)

The global economy hit its system boundary about 25 years ago when we started consuming more resources than the planet could sustainably provide. 

Friday 25 May 2012

EDANA Middle East Symposium 2012

Edited highlights of our report on the EDANA Middle East Symposium (14th -15th Feb 2012) are now available in Nonwovens Report International magazine - Issue 2 2012.  The full report will be posted here in due course, but in the meantime here are some photos from the occasion. 

While the conference hotel was at the Jumeirah Beach Resort, it was not in that resort's costly Burj al Arab hotel illustrated in the NRI article, but in the more popular and reasonable Jumeirah Beach Hotel illustrated below:

Friday 18 May 2012

Biopolymer World

Q. When is a biopolymer not a biopolymer: A. When it’s a polyolefin.


Last month’s Biopolymer World Conference in Venice was a “first” and a great way to catch up with the latest developments in biopolymers, an increasingly important source of materials for nonwovens now that fossil fuels are getting pricy.  Ahead of the meeting it was clear that the dictionary definition of biopolymer was being adapted for marketing purposes but we were nevertheless surprised to discover how different the modern “biopolymer” had become.
Biopolymer used to refer to a macromolecule produced by living organisms the key examples being cellulose, chitin, proteins, and DNA.  Plant cellulose is the most important biopolymer, growing naturally in enormous quantities (~100 billion tonnes/year) most of which ultimately biodegrades to provide the raw materials for the next generation of plants.  In fact biodegradability and biopolymers are linked by more than the “bio” prefix because the carbon cycle of life requires all living things to decompose back to their building blocks for reuse.  It was therefore reasonable to begin to describe the new synthetic biodegradable polymers as bio-polymers even though they did not originate in nature.
However imagine our surprise when over dinner at the conference a delegate expressed the view that polyethylene was now the most important biopolymer on the planet!  The logic for this was impeccable...