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It’s Art, but is it Abstract?

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The Anti-Gender Agenda

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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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"From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent."


Thus spoke Sir Winston Churchill, in the company of President Harry S. Truman, on March 5, 1946, at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri.

But this Iron Curtain was not a single boundary, but two fences (mostly) separated by a furlong or so (5 furlongs = 1 kilometre) with a no-man’s-land in between.

Tomorrow is Sunday, and as I prepare to mount my plastic pulpit I will take as my text the introduction to Chapter 5 (Complex Numbers) of A Survey of Modern Algebra by Birkhoff&Mac Lane.  This is a classic and accessible work, first published in 1941, which brought to the American-speaking world what was previously locked up in Van der Waerden’s Moderne Algebra (1931).  The chapter opens with the definition of a complex number and the field C [1], and then continues:

To the historian, English is a fascinating language.  Unlike most of the languages of Europe, it underwent an almost complete makeover following the Norman invasion (1066 and All That).  As a result, although or basic words and grammar are basically like German and especially Dutch, the lion’s share of our vocabulary is from French and Latin.  
Last night, I watched on BBC Television Natural World, 2008-2009 - 14. A Farm for the Future in which

Wildlife film maker Rebecca Hosking investigates how to transform her family’s farm in Devon into a low energy farm for the future, and discovers that nature holds the key.
“As a young boy I was always very curious.

My parents didn't like to leave me at home alone, because they knew I would dismantle the radio. . .”

So begins an interview with

Ghana's rocket man


who is now working at NASA.   It’s short, but very informative: read it here.
I have been working in research for 36 years now.  As the millennium turned, and our department found itself being starved of staff like the Hodja’s Donkey, I found myself being called upon to assume some small teaching roles.  I found two incompatible things: one, that I really enjoy teaching, even more than research; two, that there is so much physics that I never had learned properly.