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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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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

A friend on a newsgroup went recently to see the "Creation" fim / movie.  He'd like to know what the folks on Scientific Blogging think of it (I presume it's being shown across the pond, also.)  He writes:

Dear All,
Went to see the film the other night. Not quite what I expected and to some extent disappointed as it was very much an interpretation of Darwin (and Huxley), which didn't always fit in with the biographies of Darwin I've read.

Specific points:
Huxley had a walk on part and the actor who played him made him look like a dwarf and a stooge to Hooker.

With what words he did say, I'm not sure whether many people would be able to differentiate between his anti-clericalism and an anti God stance.

Recent events in the Chrematosphere*  have brought the following to mind. It is from Fred Hoyle’s Frontiers of Astronomy, concerning the collapse of a giant star before it explodes as a supernova.

The collapse

Two letters

Two letters

Sep 21 2009 | 2 comment(s)

One sometimes gets frustrated reading our Daily/Sunday Telegraph.  So many of their columnists, and those who comment on blogs, think that "Global Warming" is a man-made political scam, a another appendage to the giant bloodsucker that is the Treasury, and a gravy train for politicians.
Having returned from a Polymer Physics conference a couple of days ago, I felt the need to read one of the masters of the subject, Nobel laureate Pierre-Gilles de Gennes.   I came across this gem:

Fragile Objects: Soft Matter, Hard Science and the Thrill of Discovery by Pierre Gilles de Gennes and J. Badoz (read the link for a description).

Here I found this gem within a gem, a chapter entitled The Imperialism of Mathematics, which starts:

I have just read a letter in Chemistry World (September 2009, p40) by A J Dijkstra, who has just translated the first ever book on lipid chemistry from French into English. This book is Recherches chimiques sur les corps gras d'origine animale, Paris, 1823, by Michel Eugène Chevreul. His long life (1786 – 1889) took him from before the French Revolution to the inauguration of the Eiffel Tower. Chevreul had a long and varied scientific career, as his Wikipedia biography relates.