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Education Wars: the Empire Strikes Back?

One of the difficulties of judging the ways of people is the fact that highly intelligent individuals...

Is this a Huorn?

Those familiar with the Lord of the Rings will remember the Huorns.  According to the Lord...

Palyn- or Palin-?

About ten years ago, what is now the Electron Microscopy Laboratory at the University of Reading...

Is colour helpful?

A couple of days ago, I read this on Real Clear Science:Why Spelling Tests Don’t Help Kids Spell...

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Robert H OlleyRSS Feed of this column.

Until recently, I worked in the Polymer Physics Group of the Physics Department at the University of Reading.

I would describe myself as a Polymer Morphologist. I am not an astronaut,

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In 2001 there was a massive outbreak of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) in the United Kingdom.  This caused, in terms of prices at that time £8bn / $13–16bn of loss to the UK economy, and much distress in agricultural communities.

 One of the most memorable things of that time was images of cattle and other carcasses being burned.


Not long ago, we acquired a range of inexpensive storage vessels, ideal for keeping leftovers in the fridge before they go into yours truly, the family dustbin. 

Here is an example: the steel dish is covered by a tight-fitting plastic (presumably polyethylene) lid.  Or it was tight-fitting when we bought it, but some of these lids are now so tight-fitting that they won’t even go on at all, and one or two have split in the attempt to force them on.
 

 

Going round the exhibition of the Association for Science Education always leaves me with a few small challenges, such as “how much can I really take in of what an exhibitor is telling me?” and “how much school science do I really understand?”  For example, on the same table as the Toilet Roll Fungus, part of the NBCE exhibit, I came upon two fuel cells.  I’ve had to think quite hard before writing this one up

Some years ago, I was a bit mystified as to the distinction between prebiotics and probiotics. 

These days, one can easily look them up on Wikipedia, and find that prebiotics are meant to encourage the growth of ‘good’ bacteria in the gut, while probiotics are supposed to deliver the bacteria directly. 



Sub chases, films giant squid going to Pacific abyss


Scientists from the Japan National Museum and broadcasters from NHK and the U.S. Discovery Channel , said (Monday Jan 7th) they have captured footage of an elusive giant squid deep in the North Pacific that may have been up to 8 metres long before losing its two long tentacles.



Boxing has been in the news lately, what with this young lady (Nicola Adams) becoming the world’s first female Olympic boxing champion.  So when I saw claws like the ones in the next picture two days ago, I immediately thought they might be used for combat, like the outsize claw of the male fiddler crab.