“More immigrants, fewer white-trash dole scroungers”

Actually, the prime minister didn’t say that in his speech today in Shoreditch, but you have to admit it’s an entertaining variation on the misrepresentative headline theme. What Gordon Brown did say is that immigration in the British Isles is as old as the hills, and without doubt a very good thing. One example cited […]

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Quantum life

Quantum mechanics describes the world of the invisibly small, from subatomic particles at the tiniest scale, to complex molecules at the largest. On the other hand, our everyday, macro-scale world is governed by classical laws of nature, with none of the strangeness and often contradictory nature of the quantum realm. But where exactly is the […]

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Liddle bloggox

The UK’s Press Complaints Commission (PCC) has for the first time ruled against the publication in a journalistic pseudo-blog of unsubstantiated claims. “There is plenty of room for robust opinions, views and commentary, but statements of fact must still be substantiated,” says PCC director Stephen Abell. In December of last year, Spectator columnist and one-time […]

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Accepting the Anthropocene

Ever since atmospheric chemist and Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen coined the term more than a decade ago, scientists have increasingly come to accept that we are now living in a new epoch known as the Anthropocene: a geological age characterised by the dominance of human activity on our small blue planet. The term has yet […]

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It’s a bumpy road ahead

This has nothing to do with the parlous state of the British economy. The subject is in fact friction, which no doubt had you enthralled as you timed wooden blocks sliding down inclined planes in your high school physics laboratory. Exciting stuff. The interface between seemingly smooth surfaces is in fact formed by a multitude […]

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RIP Henry Rishbeth (1931-2010)

It is with sadness that I report the death yesterday of my former boss and mentor Henry Rishbeth, professor emeritus of physics at the University of Southampton. Henry was a pioneer in the field of ionospheric physics, and held in great esteem by the UK and wider space science communities. I first met Henry when […]

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Remembering the world’s first hacker

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, named after the 19th century English writer and mathematician who worked on Charles Babbage’s analytical engine, a precursor of the digital computer. Lovelace’s writings on Babbage’s machine include a detailed description of a computational process, or algorithm, and the author is regarded as the world’s first computer programmer. Augusta Ada […]

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Images of space

Today sees the formal launch of the UK Space Agency. The news has been reported this morning by the BBC and a few other UK media outlets, but it’s pretty low profile stuff. Anyways, I’m not interrupting my work to write about the UK Space Agency. I did briefly mention the subject back in December, […]

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Did global warming really stop in 1998?

Anthropogenic climate change deniers insist that any positive trend there may have been in the Earth’s global average surface temperature levelled off in 1998. Now this myth has repeatedly been demolished by people who know what they are talking about, but still it persists within the closed, ideological ecosystem of climate denialism. Setting aside the […]

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A climate of desperation

When it comes to the public dissection of climate denialism, there is little to beat Peter Sinclair’s series of short videos titled “Climate denial: crock of the week”. I am a science writer by trade, which seems a bit of a waste now that people are increasingly turning away from reading in long form, preferring […]

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