Researchers’ Weekly Bulletin: the Blog

News for researchers at the Manchester Metropolitan University

Post-war playtime: Mettoy and Corgi Toys

June 13th, 2016

“While many of us are no doubt aware of the successes of the British motoring industry in the 20th century, it’s easy to forget that at one point the UK was home to the major manufacturers of miniature toy cars as well.”

“The names of some of these – such as Spot On and Budgie – are all but forgotten now, but in the 1960s the big three of Matchbox by Lesney, Dinky by Mecanno and Corgi by Mettoy were the world leaders in their field. Of these three, Mettoy and their Corgi range were perhaps the company with the most interesting history, which itself we find recorded in several documents at The National Archives.”

“Fleeing Nazi persecution, Arthur Katz and Philippe Ullmann brought their toy making expertise, honed in Germany, to British shores in 1934. Due to the metal nature of their products, the two men named their company Mettoy (as in ‘Metal Toys’). Arthur Katz’s naturalisation certificate is among those held by The National Archives…”

“After the Mettoy factory in Northampton had been used to manufacture munitions during the Second World War, production of toys resumed. Such was the success of the company that they moved from their initial manufacturing operation to a modern facility in Swansea.”

[Source National Archives blog: ]

Seven key findings from the new Creative Industry statistics

June 13th, 2016

“The Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) [has] published the latest UK creative industry statistics. Reports were published on:

  • Creative employment
  • Creative services exports”

“This post summarises seven key findings from these. In what follows the Creative Economy refers to employment in Creative Industries (in creative occupations and other jobs) plus creative occupations employed in other industries.”

To read the report go to:

To read the blog go to:

[Source Nesta blog as above]


June 13th, 2016

“The International Polar Foundation, which is housed in Brussels, Belgium, founded SciencePoles in 2005 to better communicate the exciting developments of polar research to the wider scientific community and the public at large. The website presents many fascinating findings from the iciest spots on the planet. For example, readers may enjoy an interview with the director of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Karin Lochte, as she speaks about EU-PolarNet, an initiative that aims to foster greater synergy between different European polar research institutions. Or they may like to read the words of Professor Michael Tipton from the University of Portsmouth as he discusses how to deal with cold injury and cold immersion in extreme environments. Readers who are interested in the science and logistics of arctic exploration will find much to appreciate on this excellent site. [CNH]”

[Source Scout Report, 3 June, 2016: ]

Digital Harlem

June 13th, 2016

“Once home to prolific artists and writers such as Louis Armstrong, Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale Hurston, early 20th century Harlem was a rich African American cultural hub. But this site, developed by historians and arts researchers at the University of Sydney, does more than document the characters and events of note during this period, offering instead a glimpse into the lives of ordinary Black New Yorkers living in the Harlem Neighborhood between 1915 and 1930. Using records drawn from newspapers, legal sources, and other archives, this resource uses a map interface to provide a way to explore and visualize Harlem’s rich history. Readers can use the search features on the left of the website to create their own maps of people, places, or events, or use the sidebar on the right to explore already created maps on different themes, such as gambling arrests or the life of seventeen-year-old Fuller Long. Tabs at the top of the site provide even more information on how the site can be used and understood to research the rich history of Harlem and its everyday people.

[Source Scout Report, 3 June, 2016: ]

Create or connect your ORCID identifier in Je-S

June 13th, 2016

“Researchers can now create or connect their ORCID identifier in the Research Councils’ grants system (Je-S).”

“An ORCID identifier (ORCID iD) is a unique string of numbers (a digital identifier) that distinguishes you from every other researcher – when a name isn’t enough! Letting researchers create or connect their ORCID iD to our grants system is an important first step towards improving the flow of research information across the higher education sector.”

“There is no need to wait until you are applying for a new grant to create or connect your iD – we would encourage both current and past award holders to log-in to their Je-S account, which you can do at any time, and add your ORCID iD to your ‘personal information’ page now. New applicants will also see the option to ‘create or connect your ORCID iD’ when creating a new Je-S account.”

For further information on the ORCID ID in Je-S, please visit the RCUK blog:

[Source Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council news: ]

New multiphoton microscopes could speed up disease diagnosis

June 13th, 2016

“Two new optical devices could reduce the need to take tissue samples during medical examinations and operations and to then send them for testing – potentially speeding up diagnosis and treatment and cutting healthcare costs.”

“One is a lightweight handheld microscope designed to examine external tissue or tissue exposed during surgery. One example of its use could be to help surgeons compare normal and cancerous cells (during an operation). A key advantage is that the device can acquire high quality 3D images of parts of the body while patients are moving (eg due to normal breathing), enabling it to be applied to almost any exposed area of a patient’s body.”

“The second instrument, a tiny endoscope incorporating specially designed optical fibres and ultraprecise control of the light coupled into it, has the potential to be inserted into the body to carry out internal cell-scale examination, for example during neurosurgery. Ultimately, this new approach may be able to provide high resolution images enabling surgeons to see inside individual cells at an adjustable depth beneath the surface of the tissue.”

[Source Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council news: ]

Major funders collaborate to produce first in-depth guide on evaluating healthcare system innovations

June 13th, 2016

“An e-book [just] published is the first to comprehensively address the challenges faced by healthcare providers in evaluating system-level innovations in healthcare services in an evolving landscape.”

“If innovations can be better evaluated then better, evidence-based decisions can be made by healthcare providers to improve the quality of health services in the UK.”

“Entitled ‘Challenges, solutions and future directions in the evaluation of service innovations in health care and public health’, the book is the result of a partnership between the MRC [Medical Research Council], the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Health Foundation, together with Universities UK and Academy Health.”

“The e-book, edited by Professor Rosalind Raine at University College London and Professor Raymond Fitzpatrick at the University of Oxford, brings together a global range of expert opinion following a two-day symposium in London last year. The event saw over ninety world-leading applied health researchers and methodologists debate how to address increasing complexity, diversity and pace of change within health systems. The e-book captures and advances those discussions in a series of essays which set out a repertoire of methodologies for evaluation.”

[Source Medical Research Council news: ]

Barclaycard: 50 years of plastic money – the story from the Archives

June 13th, 2016

“29th June 2016 sees the 50th anniversary of the official launch of Barclaycard, the first all-purpose credit card in Europe.”

“Origins and Idea”

“The idea of Barclaycard is credited to general manager Derek Wilde, later a vice-chairman of Barclays, and James Dale, who became Barclaycard’s first departmental manager. Their idea was backed by Barclays’ chairman John Thomson, who recognised the need to ‘beat the others to it’. The immediate inspiration came from a visit to the United States in 1965 by Wilde, Dale and computer expert Alan Duncan, specifically to look at Bank of America’s BankAmericard.”

“Barclays had, since the mid-1950s, begun to innovate and modernise in areas such as technology and advertising, for example ordering the first computer for branch accounting in 1959, and experimenting with cinema advertising. In 1967 Barclays would pioneer the world’s first external wall-mounted cash machines.”

“The card scheme was approved by the board without any market research or pilot, or adequate in-house computer system, and in the face of not inconsiderable internal and external suspicion, even hostility. It was recognised that profitability would be long-term, since the set-up costs were so high and credit controls strict.”

To read the rest of the blog go to:

[Source Archives Hub blog as above]

Researchers build the world’s tiniest engine from particles of gold

June 13th, 2016

“Researchers have developed the world’s tiniest engine – just a few billionths of a metre in size – which uses light to power itself. The nanoscale engine, developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge, could form the basis of future nano-machines that can navigate in water, sense the environment around them, or even enter living cells to fight disease.”

“The prototype device is made of tiny charged particles of gold, bound together with temperature-responsive polymers in the form of a gel. When the ‘nano-engine’ is heated to a certain temperature with a laser, it stores large amounts of elastic energy in a fraction of a second, as the polymer coatings expel all the water from the gel and collapse. This has the effect of forcing the gold nanoparticles to bind together into tight clusters. But when the device is cooled, the polymers take on water and expand, and the gold nanoparticles are strongly and quickly pushed apart, like a spring.”

[Source Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council news: ]

British Academy report examines cultural factors shaping community energy projects

June 13th, 2016

“The British Academy has [] published a report on the cultural factors that shape the success of community energy projects. Cultures of Community Energy suggests actions that can make community energy viable and sustainable. The report is accompanied by eleven international case studies exploring the cultural aspects of community energy projects.”

“A working group of experts from across the energy sector drew on these case studies to suggest actions that can support the growth of community energy in the UK. From cascading responsibility for carbon reduction to local authorities, to exploring ways of upskilling communities starting such projects, Cultures of Community Energy sets out practical findings and suggestions for the local, community energy sector, and ideas for policy levers that could support its development.”

“The report suggests that a tradition of social enterprise or co-operation affected how easily a community energy group was established, whilst some projects also arose out of a ‘resistance spirit’ to large commercial energy projects, and the desire to do things differently. The authors also suggest that government financial incentives are important to encourage the development of community energy groups, but a long-term, predictable government policy on community energy is equally necessary to allow projects to thrive.”

[Source British Academy news: ]