Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Alfred University’s Cormack and Isaac Newton: What’s in common?

ALFRED  – What do Alastair Cormack and Isaac Newton have in common?
(Presumably not being beaned by an apple and discovering gravity. That’s Newton’s claim to fame, not Cormack’s.)
Both, however, are British, although born several centuries apart.
Both were trained as scientists.
And now, both have been published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, the oldest continuously published, peer-reviewed scientific journal in the world – again several decades apart and in different media.
While Netwon’s article was most likely handset in moveable type and printed on a sheet-fed press, Cormack’s will be prepared electronically and will appear in print as well as online.
Cormack, the Van Derck Frechette Professor of Ceramic Science at the Kazuo Inamori School of Engineering at Alfred University (AU), just received word that an issue titled, “Structure and biological activity of glasses and ceramics,” which he compiled and edited with Antonio Tilocca, will be published in Vol. 370, No. 1963, and dated March 28, 2012. The issue is available online at http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/site/2012/1963.xhtml
Cormack and Tilocca also co-authored the introductory paper. According to the abstract: “Repairing and regenerating lost or damaged tissues is a key goal of modern medicine. Synthetic biomaterials used for this task are generally optimised through trial-and-error approaches, which have led to significant progress in their development in the last two decades. However, further advances towards a new generation of biomaterials with enhanced properties now require a different approach, based on a more fundamental understanding of the way in which the structure of a biomaterial controls its biological activity. Our limited knowledge of the atomic structure of most biomaterials and of their interface with the biological environment has precluded such rational approaches so far. Significant advances in experimental and simulation methods have recently led to important progress in the structural characterisation of glass and ceramics for biomedical applications. This themed issue illustrates recent developments in our knowledge of the structural features of topical biomaterials, including silicate and phosphate bioactive glasses and titania and calcium phosphate bioceramics. Given the established role of these materials in the field, this information represents a precious reference to rationalise the way in which biomaterials work and guide the development of future biomaterials.”
(Benjamin Franklin’s celebrated account of his electrical kite experiment was also published in Philosophical Transactions, but Franklin and Cormack have less in common than Cormack and Newton.)
Founding dean of the Inamori School of Engineering in 2004, Cormack returned to full-time teaching and research after completing a five-year term.
He joined the AU faculty in 1985, and was promoted to the rank of full professor in 1992. He served as associate dean for what was then the School of Ceramic Engineering and Materials Science in 1991-92, and was dean from 1997-2002.
Considered to be among the leading researchers today in the field of computer modeling of materials, Cormack focuses on the atomic-scale physics and chemistry of materials, particularly ceramics and glass. He uses computers to model the way in which atoms are arranged in solids, and how that arrangement of atoms affects their properties. He is a frequent lecturer on the topic, invited to speak at conferences, colleges and universities around the world.
Cormack is a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society, the Society of Glass Technology, the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the Mineralogical Society (United Kingdom). He is also a Chartered Scientist and a Chartered Chemist in the UK.
For more about the Inamori School of Engineering at Alfred University: http://engineering.alfred.edu
For more about Alfred University: http://www.alfred.edu

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