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Grim New World?

Are we heading for a Grim New World?  It looks like it, from two short articles that I have...

Of Badgers, Cattle, And Bovine TB

In recent years in Britain, we have heard much about bovine tuberculosis, which affects a wide...

A Post-Truth Society?

As some of you may be aware, even on the western seaboard of the Atlantic, Theresa May is shortly...

Obama, Ancestry, and DNA

On the 23rd of April, Barack Obama, President of the United States of America (fanfare!) issued...

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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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The Wrong Kind of Snow has struck again.  As this New Scientist article relates, on the 6th of February 1991, trains in South-Eastern England were brought to a halt.  When British Rail announced that this was caused by "the wrong kind of snow", people thought that this was simply the mother of all official excuses.  But it was true: fine, dry, powdery snow had indeed been sucked into the works of the electric trains, and caused the


One of the beauties of spiral galaxies is bursts of blue-and-red hydrogen light from newly-born clusters of stars.  In the 19th century a poetically similar outburst of creativity occurred in Naples, which not only transformed Italian popular music, but propelled by recordings of Enrico Caruso and Mario Lanza among others, has since warmed hearts across the globe.

La Canzone Napoletana is understood to have taken off in 1835 with the song Te voglio bbene assaie by Raffaele Sacco (1787 –1872), who as well as being a poet was also an inventor of optical instruments.  The particular song I am
Look what's happening in Britain! 

I have just been reading a newspaper article:  Climate change belief given same legal status as religion  which starts:
An executive has won the right to sue his employer on the basis that he was unfairly dismissed for his green views after a judge ruled that environmentalism had the same weight in law as religious and philosophical beliefs.
Where does one draw the boundary between science and politics? Here in Dear Old Blighty, our Home Secretary has just sacked his chief drugs adviser over this very issue. If you care to read the article, Cannabis row drugs adviser sacked, please let me know what you think.

Just over a year ago, the Daresbury synchrotron closed down (Is The Ring Destined For The Cracks Of Doom?) and I was contemplating the prospect of travelling to THE Continent (OK, the European mainland) in order to continue our Small-angle X-ray scattering work. 

Recent correspondence directed me to the fact that there is a Philosophy section in Scientific Blogging. This is something I have kept away from, since my view of the subject follows the Pooh-Goethe paradigm [1]. However, I have just read In The Beginning - A Rough Guide To A Physicalist View Of Everything which introduced the subject of metaphysics. Now it may be customary to think that metaphysics is “that which lies beyond physics”, so the more we get our physics right, the better the metaphysics. But then Darwin had a different perspective. In his Notebook M (1838) he wrote