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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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Practically every month in my Chemistry World there appears an article where a group of workers has synthesized some natural product with amazing ingenuity. But why, to use a Hogwartsian analogy, does one go to such great effort when the greenhouse is only a walk away from the potions department? So let us join Professor Sprout for a walk around the Hogwarts greenhouses.

Some plant families, such as the Cruciferae and the Labiatae are remarkably free from poisonous plants, whereas others such as the Araceae all seem to come with a toxic hazard warning sign.

Frederick II (1194 –1250), Holy Roman Emperor and King of Sicily, so I have read, preferred equation-solving contests to watching knights impaling each other in jousting. Certainly, the great mathematician we know today as Fibonacci spent some time at his court.

As a result of this development, Italy became a leading centre of the mathematical arts, and by the 1530s the solving of cubic equations was all the rage in Venice, with great prize money.

When the Chinese invented gunpowder round about the 800s, they founded one half of the science of chemistry, namely bangs, the other half of course being stinks

They quickly applied it to warfare, both as an explosive in bombs, and as a propellant in rockets.  It remained the explosive for about a millennium, but in the 19th century demands both from the military and from industry created a demand for new explosive.unpowder was a low explosive which burns swiftly rather than detonates.  

(Sensors in the skin - does that sound like Frank Sinatra singing?)

Of the professors at Reading University, perhaps the one with the highest media profile is Kevin Warwick, well known for planting microchips inside himself as signalling devices. However, it seems that nature, as so often happens, got there first.

I have recently been contacted by a friend who is worried at the decline in numeracy in the West.  He asked me what I thought of the following:

In 2005, Newt Gingrich (who had been on the Hart-Rudman Commission) stated:
The collapse of math and science education in the US and the relative decline of investment in basic research is an enormous strategic threat to American national security. … Keeping America competitive in the twenty-first century is dependent upon having increasing number of students studying math and science.
Alterted by a British blog, I read the following in the New York Post.

A New Frontier for Title IX: Science

Is this for real?