Muck and Medicine

An article in The Federalist:The Darwinism That Fuels Atheism Actually Favors Religiosity ...

The First Known Deuterostome?

A few days ago I read an article in the Telegraph Humanity’s earliest known ancestor discovered...

Happy Chinese New Year 2017

Today is the first day of the Chinese Year of the Rooster, 2017. I am addressing this in particular...

Electromagnetic Mayhem

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

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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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A few days ago, I read Oldest Biblical Inscription Deciphered, Archaeologists Say by our News Staff, and found it fascinating.  It takes one back to Solomon, who, according to the Bible, had a thousand wives (that’s includin’ concubines, I have to tell ya.)  Now people like to embellish these stories, and my mother sometimes would sing this:

Oh Solomon, he had a thousand wives
And bein' a kind hearted fella,
He wanted all o' them
To lead contented lives
So he bought each mamma
A grand piana, ....

Research finds no advantage in learning to read from age five

says a press release from the world's southernmost university, the University of Otago in New Zealand.

Comparing children from Rudolf Steiner schools, who usually start learning to read from age seven, and children in state-run schools, who start learning to read at five, Dr Sebastian Suggate found that the later learners caught up and matched the reading abilities of their earlier-reading counterparts by the time they were 11, or by Year 7.  Of his third series of experiments, he says:
When Dmitri Mendeleev first published his table of elements in 1869 (picture), only 60 of these were known. One group in particular was absent, namely the inert gases.  Now you may have heard this song:

"All these gases are inert
  Helium, neon, argon.
I’ll sing this song until it hurts
  Krypton, xenon, radon." **
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.