Electromagnetic Mayhem

Not long ago, I read an article Apocalypse now? Nuclear proliferation is the least of our worries...

Lang may yer lum reek – especially in Alaska

In Scotland, traditional New Year greeting isLang may yer lum reek meaning “long may your chimney...

Feliz año nuevo 2017 a todos

Unlike Alex Durig, who has given us 5 Predictions for 2017, I will not attempt to make any. ...

Do You Get The "Violet Or Purple" Blues?

Do you find that your camera is not registering violet correctly?  Flowers that are more violet...

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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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Some years ago, I was watching a wildlife TV programme, where a mother leopard was leading her three cubs, and they encountered a bank. Two of the cubs jumped it on the first go, but the third struggled until it found a piece of overhanging vegetation which enabled it to take the bank in two leaps.

When one leaves school and enters university, one can find that leaps are required which can overtax the brain. I am always pleased to find books in maths and the sciences which allow one to make these leaps. In Mathematician’s Delight (Pelican 1943), W. W. Sawyer wrote:
16-bit Blues

16-bit Blues

Dec 30 2009 | 3 comment(s)

How often have you taken a picture with a digital camera, only for it to come out looking like this? The sky’s too bright, the shaded parts are too dark, and however much one juggles with it with software, it won’t come out right.

The eye managed to adapt to it all right, effortlessly moving over the scene. With film, if one were a darkroom wizard, one could play tricks with the processing. But digital – what do we get for our multi-megapixels and our 16777216 colours?

Water management has always been a big thing in China.  This morning I read about the South-North Water Project, in which China is starting to divert huge quantities of water from the sub-tropically wet south-west of the country, moving it to the arid north and north-east.

The project is not without human cost, as this article Migrants bear sacrifice for China's south-north water diversion project from China's own news agency shows.

In Anglo-Saxon orthography, so we understand, the letters "ge" often represented the sound "ye".  With that little bit of information, you should have no trouble in construing the following:

And if you want to go back a bit further in time, here is my idea of a Christmas greeting:

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