Why does climate vary?

The challenge of communicating climate science to the public, and the dangers associated with a scientifically over-simplified approach to the popular and political debate, is something about which I have commented on a number of occasions. Scientific literacy may not be particularly high in the population at large, but appealing to the lowest common denominator […]

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In defence of a flawed idea

The great and the good of the UK higher education establishment have today taken up rhetorical arms against a philistine government they accuse of abandoning the ideas of the Enlightenment. Their battle hymn, “In Defence of Public Higher Education”, is replete with nice words about the intellectual and cultural value of learning, but in attacking […]

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Nice speech, David

David Cameron urges the international community to seize a “massive opportunity” to spread freedom and democracy in the wake of the Arab Spring. A nice speech from a British prime minister anxious to establish his historic legacy before things go completely tits up at home, but there is no shortage of heads of state and […]

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Watch your head!

If anyone were to get splatted tomorrow by the de-orbiting UARS satellite, I imagine that’ll be upper atmosphere research gone for Burton. For the past decade and more, this scientific discipline has been hanging on for dear life, increasingly starved of funding, and a small shift in public opinion could finish it off for good. […]

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The world’s first unauthorised autobiography?

“All memoir is prostitution,” …says Wikiführer Julian Assange. He should know, for he had his autobiography ghostwritten by Andrew O’Hagan, trousered a half million quid advance, gave that to his lawyers for their services, and then ratted on the deal with Canongate, which went ahead and published anyway. Assange today… “[Canongate is] in breach of […]

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International Day of Peace?

Today is ‘International Day of Peace’ – a concept established in 1981 by the United Nations to coincide with the opening of the UN General Assembly. Laudable aims… “Peace Day should be devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples… This day will serve as a […]

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It’s grim (humour) up North London

Spotted on Walthamstow Marshes… South of the river, we would never indulge in such bad taste jokes. Or, for that matter, commit such an unforgivable spelling mistake. I blame the teachers.

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Mobile phone rhetoric messes with your brain

A few days ago, Finnish medical scientists publicised a study which shows that mobile phone radiation suppresses glucose metabolism in areas of the brain adjacent to the antenna. Despite being published in an obscure journal with no internet presence, and a very brief Finnish Academy press release which neither mentions the researchers’ names, nor appears […]

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Munro or no?

The BBC and other media recently reported that Scotland could lose one of its famous and baggable Munro mountains. By that I don’t mean the rock in question will vanish, but the status of Beinn a’Chlaidheimh as a mountain of at least 3,000 feet (914.4 metres) above sea level could be rescinded as the result […]

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Hej hej Lars!

For the first time in 18 years, Denmark has a prime minister whose name isn’t Rasmussen. Lars Løkke today takes his leave, and Denmark embraces Welsh disaster politics. Victory for the centre-left in Denmark’s general election sets the country apart from the mass of EU member states. It amazes me how, in the midst of […]

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