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Front page - autumn - 2010

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EDITORS IN CHARGE

Editor-in-chief SINTEF:
Director of communications Petter Haugan

Editor-in-chief NTNU:
Information Director Christian Fossen

Editor SINTEF:
Åse Dragland
Email: Ase.Dragland@sintef.no
Tel: +47 73 59 24 76
Fax: +47 73 59 83 50

Reporters: Svein Tønseth and Christina B. Winge

Postal address: Gemini, SINTEF, N-7465 Trondheim, Norway

Editor NTNU:
Nina Tveter
Email: nina.tveter@ntnu.no
Tel: +47 73 59 53 21
Fax: +47 73 59 54 37

Reporters: Nancy Bazilchuk, Lisa Olstad, Synnøve Ressem and Hege J. Tunstad


Translation and English editing:
Hugh Allen, Stewart Clark and Nancy Bazilchuk.

 
Blood pressure dilemma 

European health organizations have recommended that people with blood pressure higher than 180/20 be regarded as at risk and followed up by a physician.

PhD candidate Halfdan Pétursson and his colleagues at NTNU have compared this recommendation to medical information from approximately 65 000 residents of Nord-Trøndelag, who have participated in an extensive county-wide health survey called HUNT. Pétursson’s analysis showed that if the recommendations are followed, 74 per cent of the county's population would have to have regular follow-ups. The European recommendations are both medically and ethically unacceptable, according to the researchers. Norwegian health authorities do not follow the recommendations either.


Svalbard bears, gulls at risk

Polar bears in East Greenland and Svalbard and glaucous gulls in Svalbard are among the Arctic animals showing the most deleterious effects of persistent organic pollutants, according to a new summary report co-authored by an NTNU biologist, Bjørn Munro Jenssen.

The summary, which is part of a comprehensive effort called the Arctic ­Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) was published in the July 2010 issue of Science of the Total Environment. While researchers could not document strong evidence for widespread ecosystem effects from contaminants such as PCBs and DDT, they surmised that the reason for this was a lack of long-term data, not a lack of effects. They also noted that factors other than pollutants, such as climate change, disease and the invasion of new species, will adversely affect each animal’s overall toxic exposure.


New book: Ghost town

Persistent memories. Pyramiden – a Soviet mining town in the High Arctic
Bjørnar Olsen, archaeologist, University of Tromsø; Hein B. Bjerck , archaeologist, NTNU; Elin Andreassen, photographer
Trondheim Tapir Academic Press (2010)

Ghost town

Photo: Elin Andreassen

In 1998, the Russian Arctic Coal Company decided to end its more than 50 years of continuous activity in Pyramiden in the high Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. A remarkably abrupt departure left behind a mining town devoid of people but still ­filled with all the stuff that constitutes a modern industrial settlement. Today the well-equipped Pyramiden survives as a conspicuous Soviet-era ghost town in pristine Arctic nature. Based on fieldwork conducted in 2006, this book explores what the things left behind can tell us about how people lived and coped in this town on the edge of civilization. It is also concerned with Pyramiden's post-human biography and the way the site provokes more general reflections on things, heritage and memory. Challenging the traditional scholarly hierarchy of text over images, the book uses art photography to address these issues and to mediate the contemporary archaeology of Pyramiden.

More pictures from the book.

The Pyramiden project is also a part of a larger research group called Ruin Memories.


Anne-Sophie Mutter named honorary doctor     
Mutter

Photo: © Anja Frers / DG

NTNU Rector Torbjørn Digernes says the world-famous German violin virtuoso Anne-Sophie Mutter “represents a shining example of all that the university values.”

Digernes made Mutter an honorary doctor at the university’s special centennial concert held to celebrate the opening of Norway's first institute of technology in Trondheim in 1910. His Majesty King Harald V attended the celebration.

"Anne-Sophie Mutter is a great ambassador for all the values by NTNU stands for. She is internationally outstanding, has deep knowledge and commitment to her art, and a global reach," the rector said. Mutter plays frequently with the Trondheim Soloists, and Rector Digernes recognized her contribution to helping give the musicians – and Trondheim's music scene – international visibility.


Curing concrete with CO2

Concrete is usually cured using water, but a research group at SINTEF ­Materials and Chemistry has done an experimental study (exSEP) of curing concrete with CO2. The study showed that this type of curing takes place hundreds of times as quickly as hydraulic curing, and that the concrete becomes stronger. A third factor is that the technology is CO2-neutral, because the CO2 that is released during the production of cement is reincorporated in it during the process of curing.

“This is not a new technology,” says SINTEF’s Ove Paulsen, but what is strange that as far as we are aware, no one actually uses it.We believe that this technique can make an important contribution to reducing global CO2 emissions, at the same time as it makes the production of concrete products significantly more efficient.”


Superconductors find a practical use
Superconductor

Photo: Thor Nielsen

The discovery of high-temperature superconductors in 1986 led to a Nobel Prize and to predictions of a revolution in energy transmission, but not until now has an application actually come to anything. The barrier has been broken by SINTEF Energy Research scientists Magne Runde and Niklas Magnussen.

The two were recently awarded a German-Norwegian industry prize for their use of superconductors – materials that carry current without resistance – in industrial processes that are already saving money in the copper and aluminium industries.

The German Zenergy Power GmbH group has taken up a patent held by the two Norwegian researchers to build extremely energy-efficient induction ovens for production processes uses in the metallurgical industry.


 

 

 
Older people safest in nursing homes

FireThe figures are quite clear: 19 of the 23 people who have died so far this year in domestic fires in Norway were more than 70 years old and lived at home. A lack of nursing home places means that many people have to live in their own homes longer than before. Pots that boil dry and decorative candles that light fires are the most usual causes of house fires. In a recent report, SINTEF fire researchers suggest that older people are safest in nursing homes.


Gas detector for the petroleum sector 

Technology from SINTEF ICT has led to the establishment of GasSecure, which is producing the world’s first wireless gas detector for oil and gas installations. Gas leaks are a serious risk factor on installations, due to the risk of explosions that they represent. The new detector combines acoustic and infrared detection, and has already been patented.


Searching for success

Mega projects, such as are found in the oil and construction industry, cost huge sums and may often lead to major conflicts of interest. The complexity increases with the technological demands and political restrictions. These mega projects are therefore far more difficult to implement successfully than smaller projects.

Statoil and NTNU have signed a cooperation agreement with the University of California to study success factors in mega projects. The goal is to develop new practical organizational knowledge – which in turn should lead to better project management and business operations in new markets.


Fluoride and psychosis
Scream

Photo: www.photos.com

Psychotic disorders occur unusually frequently among East African immigrants in Norway. The most common explanation has been war trauma and the collision of cultures. But researchers at NTNU have raised another hypothesis for the cause: fluoride. Many East Africans move from areas with excessive natural fluoride and low natural iodine, to a country with little natural fluoride and enough iodine in their diet.

This dietary shift can affect hormone production in the thyroid gland and lead to the metabolic disease called hyperthyroidism – which in turn can develop into a psychosis. The theory has now been internationally published. The idea has been postulated by the late Professor Karl-Erik Zachariassen of the Department of Biology and Associate Professor Trond Peder Flaten in the Department of Chemistry, NTNU.


Faster weather forecasts
Men with umbrellas

Photo: www.photos.com

NTNU's supercomputer, Njord, is one of Europe's most powerful high performance computers, and is used by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, among others, to perform the calculations needed to predict Norwegian weather. Njord, named after the Norwegian god who protects seafarers and fishermen and who sends favourable winds and calm seas, has recently been
upgraded with new hardware, which tripled its previous capacity to a staggering 23.5 teraflops. (A teraflops is one trillion floating point operations per second.) This addition has enabled the Meteorological Institute to produce weather forecasts more rapidly and more accurately than before.


 


Published October, 2010

 

 

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