Journalist down in Kandahar

Calgary Herald reporter Michelle Lang was killed yesterday in Kandahar, Afghanistan, along with four Canadian soldiers, when the armoured vehicle in which they were travelling encountered a roadside bomb left by the Taliban. Lang, originally from Vancouver, was 34 years-old. I’ve now lost count of journalist casualties in Afghanistan, but it is a sobering number. […]

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Producing diesel and jet fuel in a low-carbon world

For the past month I’ve had a Nature Geoscience discussion article sitting in my blog ideas folder, largely forgotten. When I first came across the paper back in late November, it was under embargo, which indicated that the journal regarded the subject as being of potentially major interest. Going by the relatively low level of […]

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Maybe there is hope

Scene: this afternoon, at the Greenwich Peninsula shopping complex in suburban south London. Crotchety father in raised voice and perfect diction to whingeing 10-year-old son: “I’m fucking telling you, lad, it’s too much fucking TV, too much fucking Playstation, and too little reading fucking books. Carry on like this and your brain will fill up […]

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Merry Christmas, Dr Liu!

“This year is the 100th year of China’s Constitution, the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 30th anniversary of the birth of the Democracy Wall, and the 10th year since China signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. After experiencing a prolonged period of human rights disasters and a […]

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On loneliness and washing-up

BBC radio senior gob John Humphrys has his uses, and one of them is to conduct valuable interviews such as this. Sod the mostly vacuous politicians who fill the schedules of the Radio 4 Today programme; I’d much rather hear the stories of the John Arthurs of this world. What I don’t want to hear is […]

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Dozy cows

Do dairy cows need to sleep more? This question is being asked by researchers at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. We know that sleep-deprived humans use more energy than when they get sufficient slumber, but the effect has so far not been investigated in cows. There is particular concern that high-yielding dairy cows housed […]

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Aake Aardvark to Zygmund Zygote

You may have followed the saga of the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN particle accelerator which straddles the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva. Early hopes for this gargantuan physics experiment were dashed by some dodgy electrical wiring that broke the machine when it was switched on for the first time in September 2008. Since then […]

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Pushing back the boundary of the stone age

With archaeological research into early humans tending to focus on the early Middle Palaeolithic, around 200,000 years ago, it comes as a surprise to learn that Israeli researchers have found evidence of typically human behaviour as early as half a million years before that. I’m afraid that I do not have access to the full […]

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ClimateGate – the scandal that never was

Jim Hansen, NASA scientist and bogeyman of climate change denialists, has offered his thoughts on a scandal manufactured by those with a political axe to grind, and contempt for science and the scientific process. In an essay titled “The temperature of science”, Hansen discusses errors in temperature databases, and the consequences of such when it […]

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