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Design group MaltaType, made up of Dingli, Matt Demarco, and Katerina Karamallaki, have set up the exhibition to engender awareness of good design through historical study
Design group MaltaType, made up of Dingli, Matt Demarco, and Katerina Karamallaki, have set up the exhibition to engender awareness of good design through historical study

Valletta is being transformed into Malta’s vibrant cultural hub. With this welcome upheaval, however, the need to preserve the unique urban façades of the capital city’s old establishments has become critical.

Malta-based design group MaltaType is organising an exhibition on their study of shop sign production, as well as the typology and aesthetic of Valletta’s Strait Street signs, using them to create stylised prints of various shops.

The eponymously named exhibition will preserve the artefacts of Valletta’s modern history through a series of prints showing signs, shop fronts, and typography. The installation will lead from one room to the next, expanding on different aspects that constitute the process of designing and producing some of Valletta’s most iconic signs.Design_M

This project does not aim to emphasise reverting to past styles or practice, but to engender awareness of good design through historical study.

The exhibition is not intended to be a static event. Talks will focus on the history of design and the analysis of the aesthetic of the capital’s commercial establishments. Workshops will also take place, centring on the printing techniques used in the project. A main feature will be the launch of a newly-designed font created by MaltaType specifically for this event.Design_Type-Sketches

Preserving and studying past knowledge is key to generating innovative techniques. This project does not aim to emphasise reverting to past styles or practice, but to engender awareness of good design through historical study. Design is a rather young research topic in Malta, and a comprehensive study of local design is sorely needed as a baseline to build upon. The MaltaType exhibition is one such keystone. 

Design_CarmenbarMaltaType will run from 25 May until the following Sunday at Splendid in Strait Street, Valletta. The project is part of the annual artistic programme of the Strada Stretta Concept, a Valletta 2018 Foundation project. The artistic director is lecturer Dr Giuseppe Schembri Bonaci (University of Malta), and the exhibition is curated by Nikki Petroni, while the MaltaType designers are Ed Dingli, Matt Demarco, and Katerina Karamallaki. For more information:

Where Humanities, Medicine, and Sciences meet

Not many Ph.D.s lead to a new programme of studies, but cardiac paediatrician Prof. Victor Grech’s did. His study on Infertility in Science Fiction inspired him and his supervisors, Prof. Ivan Callus and Prof. Clare Vassallo, (University of Malta) to start the HUMS programme: a space for researchers in the humanities, medicine, and sciences to meet and discuss the bridges between these areas.Continue reading

3D-Printed knee implants for longer lifetime

Knee pain

Student_robertJCV-0523By Robert Zammit

One of the most common causes of total knee replacements is osteoarthritis, a disease which affects around 40% of Maltese senior citizens. The rise in age expectancy and obesity, compounded by injuries to patients, will see these numbers grow. All of this is expected to increase total knee replacement surgeries by 362% by the year 2030. The need for knee implants to have a longer lifetime is real.Continue reading

How bright?

Milky way

Student_karlJCV-1552By Karl Fiteni

An astronomer’s task is to provide insight into the nature of the universe through the observation of celestial objects. Stars are usually a few hundred, or even thousands, of light-years away—a problematic distance for direct study. Instead, people can study the light emitted by the star rather than the star itself.Continue reading

Titan: Life on another world?

Student-JosefJCV-1108By Josef Borg

If you were to travel back in time to Earth’s distant past, about three billion years ago, you would find a planet bearing barely any semblance to today’s world. A toxic atmosphere primarily composed of methane swathed our planet as its surface, devoid of liquid water at the time, was incessantly bombarded by small asteroids. While time travel evades our current realm of possibilities, we do have a replica of this past, primordial Earth right in our cosmic backyard!Continue reading

Look up↑

Earth is just one planet in a solar system that wanders around a galaxy. Each galaxy is unique in its own right, each composed of its special ration of dust, gas, and endless stars. What unites them all is the mysterious dark sky that they float in: the Universe.

A constantly growing expanse of space and time, the Universe’s attractive gravitational force is currently decreasing while its repulsive force is increasing. This repulsive force is referred to as dark energy. It is pushing galaxies apart at an increasing rate, bringing up a flurry of questions. Why is this happening? How does dark energy work? What is the role of magnetism?

To answer these questions and more requires the right tools. Improvements in instrumentation up until now have enabled astronomers to unveil many mysteries, not only in the visible region of our Universe where human eyes are sensitive to electromagnetic waves, but also beyond. This is done through various means. Optical telescopes, such as the famous Hubble Space Telescope, detect the intensity of incoming radiation in the optical band of the spectrum. Fundamentally, all celestial objects emit electromagnetic radiation, among them radio waves.

The observation of cosmic objects in these radio frequencies is defined as radio astronomy. Because radio waves penetrate dust, scientists utilise radio astronomy techniques to explore undetectable areas of space which cannot be seen using visible light by optical telescopes.

The project is an international effort to build the world’s largest multi radio telescope that will have a total collecting area of approximately one million square metres.

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is the largest project planned for the 21st century. It will see thousands of radio telescopes built in South Africa and Australia. It will enable unparalleled insights into the Universe. The project is an international effort to build the world’s largest multi radio telescope that will have a total collecting area of approximately one million square metres. SKA’s developers are building a system that would operate over a wide range of frequencies, and its size would make it 50 times more sensitive than any other radio instrument. It is set to be able to take images of the sky at up to 10,000 times the speed of current survey radio telescopes.

The University of Malta’s (UoM) contribution to the SKA project is being spearheaded by the Institute of Space Sciences and Astronomy (ISSA). ISSA Founder Prof. Kristian Zarb Adami, Faculty of Science Dean Prof. Charles Sammut, and Iman Farhat are developing an antenna which can be printed like a newspaper and can be rolled out like a carpet.

Unlike conventional antennas which are designed to work optimally at one frequency, the engineering prototype developed at the UoM can sense a large range of frequencies and is capable of running applications such as TV, wireless, Bluetooth, and near-field communications. This was also important because ISSA researchers are trying to detect the first atoms and molecules that were formed at the earliest stages of the Universe. This antenna is also intended to serve as a cost-effective element to cover remote locations for SKA.

The SKA project is scheduled to be built in phases, starting in 2018 and finishing in 2024. Even before the SKA is online, several thousand combined radio telescopes will be collecting and processing data equivalent to 100 times today’s global internet traffic per [unit of time].

The first small scale prototype antenna ISSA built had 256 elements and met SKA’s application and requirements. This was immensely motivating, especially when considering the high standards of this world-wide consortium. The initial success drove home the possibility of further in-depth studies.

ISSA has now embarked on building a large-scale version of the array (funded by the Technology Development Programme of the Malta Council for Science and Technology and Malta Communications Authority). The Malta array demonstrator is an implementation of two antenna arrays. Each array consists of 5,000 elements covering an area of 100 m2. The main aim of this is to test the array in an environment close to its real world conditions. The characterisation of the antenna array radiation pattern is being investigated using a far-field flying source. The system makes use of drones equipped with a transmitter and a dipole antenna that communicates with the array on test. The team is now working on this antenna to ensure a seamless performance.

SKA is a behemoth of a project, involving about 100 organisations across 20 countries. With it, scientists and researchers all over the world will be able to conduct transformational science in astronomical observation, breaking new ground with every step and redefining our understanding of space as we know it.

Key goals include challenging Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity to have a closer look at how the very first stars and galaxies formed moments after the Big Bang. It could also potentially provide an answer to one of the greatest mysteries known to humankind—are we alone in the Universe? SKA-night

That amazing Baroque world

St John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta (Photo by Michal Szymanski / Shutterstock, Inc.)

By Professor Denis De Lucca

The Baroque period was a time of great upheaval. Monarchs believed in the divine right to rule, a notion continuously threatened by the relentless spread of the Ottoman Empire. Civilisations clashed like never before, opposing religious ideals stoking that vicious fire. Curiously, this was also the age when science, technology, and art were making their own grand strides. The cannon and the musket altered military landscapes. The studies of Descartes, Kepler, and Newton revolutionised thought. Borromini, Bernini, Guarini, and Caravaggio altered the artistic world.

Continue reading