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Cardiff researchers in project to make cities 'greener'

Cardiff has extensive parkland in the city centre Credit: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire

Cardiff University has been awarded one of 14 research grants to develop 'green infrastructure' in urban areas around the world.

Urban forestry is one example in which woodland is planted in cities to manage storm water and reduce city temperatures.

Another example is ‘green roofing’, whereby roofs are partially or completely covered in vegetation to absorb rainwater, increase insulation and, again, reduce the temperature in cities to combat the so called ‘heat island effect’.

By taking advantage of the multiple benefits of green infrastructure, we hope to provide substantial economic, social and environmental gains not only for the US and Europe, but also developing countries around the world. To do this, we will need to develop approaches that are sensitive to local culture, knowledge and expertise

– Dr Andrea Frank, Cardiff University

'Shaken baby syndrome' test developed in Cardiff

Experts at Cardiff University have developed a test to help doctors diagnose so-called shaken baby syndrome.

Credit: PA Images

Abusive Head Trauma (AHT) is the leading cause of death amongst abused children. The method employs a simple checklist of 6 signs to look for.

It is estimated that as many as 34 in every 100,000 infants less than one year of age are victims of AHT, though the true figure is unknown because many cases of AHT are missed and others may not come to the attention of clinicians.

It is vitally important that abusive head trauma is diagnosed accurately so that the team looking after the child can ensure that they receive appropriate support and are protected from further harm.

"Arriving at these decisions can be extremely difficult, especially for doctors who do not see many cases of severe child abuse. This study offers a prediction tool to help doctors make these extremely important decisions, where the life or death of a child often hangs in the balance."

– Professor Alison Kemp, Cardiff University’s School of Medicine

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Electronics 'centre of excellence' for Cardiff

Credit: Michael Rosenfeld/DPA/Press Association Images

A 'global hub' for research into semiconductors and their materials is to be set up in the capital.

Cardiff University has signed a deal with semiconductor wafer company IQE.

It says it will drive the testing and development of technology that lies behind global ‘megatrends’ including smart phones and tablets.

It says sectors including healthcare, biotechnology and mass communications could benefit.

Coupling IQE’s infrastructure with Cardiff’s existing strengths in expanding areas of semiconductor devices and materials will create cutting-edge opportunities that will put us ahead of our competitors.

– Professor Colin Riordan, Vice-Chancellor

Evidence unearthed of 'pre-historic feasting' in South Wales

70,000 bone fragments were analysed. Credit: Cardiff University

Researchers at Cardiff University say they have unearthed evidence of feasting in South Wales during pre-historic times.

The study is published in the journal Antiquity

Archeologists have spent 10 years analysing bone fragments in a ‘midden’ or rubbish heap at a prehistoric feasting site at Llanmaes in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Over three quarters turned out to be from pigs at a time (during the Bronze Age) when sheep and cattle were the main food animals.

Credit: Cardiff University

Scientist say, significantly, the majority of the pig bones were from just one quarter of the animal - the right forequarter – suggesting a feasting pattern.

Biomolecular analysis of teeth and bones has also demonstrated that many of the pigs were not locally-raised and may have been brought to the site from a substantial distance away.

Researchers says that is a monumental feat in prehistoric Britain.

This selective pattern of feasting principally on just one quarter of one species is genuinely globally unparalleled and particularly startling as it continued over a period of centuries during the Iron Age.

The Early Iron Age communities of South Wales and beyond would have been small and dispersed, but these feasts would have represented a time of solidarity, when people came together to feast on pig right forequarters, just as their fathers and their fathers’ fathers had done.

– Dr Richard Madgwick, Cardiff University

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Cardiff scientists join hunt for 'ripples in space-time'

A dust disc being sucked into a black hole. Credit: PA/PA Archive/PA Images

An international project involving Cardiff University researchers, set up to find the first direct evidence of the existence of gravitational waves, has been officially inaugurated at a ceremony in the America.

Researchers at the University’s School of Physics and Astronomy will use a powerful supercomputer to comb through data from two gravitational wave detectors that have undergone a major upgrade as part of the Advanced LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory) Project.

Gravitational waves are tiny ripples in space-time that are emitted as a result of violent cosmic events, like exploding stars and merging black holes.

They were first predicted by Albert Einstein as a consequence of his general theory of relativity, but have yet to be detected directly.

It is believed the detection of gravitational waves will usher in a new era of astronomy, allowing researchers to examine the last minutes of the lives of black holes, as well as provide a snapshot of the Universe just a fraction of a second after the Big Bang.

At Cardiff University we hope to use these observations to understand the nature of space-time and matter under extreme conditions, and to test Einstein's theory of gravity when gravitational fields become super strong.

– Professor B S Sathyaprakash, Cardiff University

Cardiff scientists discover cancer-fighting compound

Credit: Britta Pedersen/DPA/PA Images

Cardiff University says scientists have developed a new anti-cancer stem cell agent capable of targeting aggressive tumour forming cells common to breast, pancreas, colon and prostate cancers.

The new OH14 compound has been licensed by Tiziana Life Sciences, a British-based pharmaceutical company.

It will now undergo further development before undergoing clinical trials. Researchers say studies have shown it to be effective in eliminating a number of different kinds of cancers cells, including cancer stem cells from breast cancer patients.

The breakthrough comes almost exactly a year after the same research team announced that they had discovered a molecule capable of reversing the spread of malignant breast cancer.

Our computer aided drug screening process has now identified two new classes of anti-cancer agents, specifically targeting two distinct and novel mechanisms underpinning cancer.

– Dr Andrea Brancale, Cardiff University’s School of Pharmacy

Computer programme 'aids rescue effort'

A seismic graph. Credit: Ralf Hirschberger/DPA/PA Images

Cardiff University says experts are helping the immediate rescue efforts in Nepal by providing a real-time assessment of the risk of more landslides after Saturday’s earthquake.

Dr Robert Parker and his team from the University’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences have developed a computer program calleds ShakeSlide.

The University says organisations like The World Bank and MapAction are now collaborating with Dr Parker directly, working alongside the disaster assessment teams.

The model predictions provide a rapid, first-order assessment of earthquake-triggered landslide hazards, and are currently being used to guide efforts to map landslide damage caused by Saturday’s earthquake in Nepal.

– Dr Robert Parker, School of Earth and Ocean Sciences
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