The power of words and their associations influences us in our everyday lives. When your partner is tender, is it because of a session at the gym or the fact they’re looking to get married? When something is cold, is this good news because it’s the temperature below which viruses don’t grow or does cold describe your work colleague who is aloof and unapproachable? And if someone tells you about the cloud that’s coming, do you either rush for an umbrella or jump for joy because you don’t need to buy another server? Yes words are really powerful.
The hard drives within our brain translate the meaning of words according to their context and past experience. As one wise person once told me, sometimes your biggest strength is your biggest weakness. In this case, the biggest strength of our brains is that we’ll always find a meaning for a word or phrase and store that away. Its biggest weakness is that it’s hard to dislodge that meaning and change it… even when blatantly wrong in a different context.
We’re also receptive to words that go together, like bread and butter, horse and carriage, salt and pepper… and Research and Development. This last pairing usually conjures up an image of a white coat, pipette or test tube. But add the unlikely yin of tax credits to the yang of R&D and we get a confusing combination indeed, something akin to curried ice cream or chilli-flavoured chocolate. Our brains don’t accept them so readily. In the case of R&D tax credits, the swinging pendulum of white coat to pinstripe suit, perhaps quite naturally, confuses many companies. The golden opportunity though lies in this ‘hybrid’ of the two, which combines a comprehensive understanding of the legislation with a deep and meaningful technical knowledge relevant to the business. Technology and taxation in perfect balance, truly giving you the science behind the numbers.
Our final gem from the world of words involves the use of rhyming. It is proven fact that we remember things much better if they’re in a rhyme. OJ's lawyer was accredited with getting him cleared of a murder charge using the famous phrase: "If the gloves don't fit… you must acquit".
So the next time you’re pondering how technology and taxation can go quite so well together and recover you maximum cash, think: Do you need grey suits or grey matter… Jumpstart's the latter.
Posted on Thursday, 23rd February, 2012
The X-prize foundation, which previously awarded a prize to the first commercially viable spaceship in 2004, recently offered a prize for a working Star Trek tricorder-like device, capable of independently diagnosing 15 diseases. However, it appears that hand-held technology capable of diagnosing medical issues by simply scanning a patient may be closer than previously thought.
Full-body scanning devices already exist for airport security, prototype medical scanners and material spectroscopy systems. They use terahertz waves (T-rays), which lie in the far infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum. At these extremely high frequencies, every molecule has its own unique spectroscopic signature, allowing existing devices to detect cancerous tumours, detect explosives or test integrated circuit chips without destroying them. However, these systems have several drawbacks; large amounts of energy are needed to produce T-rays, and their design requires low temperature operation. These issues make them bulky and expensive to run.
To overcome these drawbacks, researchers from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore and Imperial College London in the UK have used a new ‘nano-antenna’ technique to produce and amplify the T-rays. They shine light of different wavelengths on a pair of pointed, metal electrodes separated by 100 nanometers and placed on a semiconductor wafer. The interaction between the incident light pulses and the electric current passing between the electrodes produces a beam of T-rays with a power output that is 100 times greater than those present in current systems. The beam can also be tuned across a much larger frequency range and operates at room temperature. The lower power requirements of the new method make more portable devices possible.
The multiple improvements that this system makes to current methods for T-ray production mean that portable, high-power medical scanners may not be that far-off. So after mobile phones and tricorders, could we soon be playing our games on holodecks and eating from replicators?
Posted on Monday, 6th February, 2012