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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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For some time now in Britain, our “great and good” have been belabouring the more conservative part of our population [1] with accusations of Islamophobia and Homophobia.  The implication of those two epithets is that they are some kind of medical or — by extension — moral pathology.  I will attempt in this short blog to raise the subject of what I consider to be some errors of our “great and good.”

I have seen creeping into recent discussions of the TV show ‘Cosmos’ the idea that we scientists, because of our greater knowledge and understanding of how the natural world works, will somehow be intrinsically better when it comes to dealing with matters of ethics, politics or religion.  I beg to differ.

A Star that seems Brighter when Eclipsed

This paradoxical phenomenon was brought to my attention by a recent article in Physics World.  Quite an informative article, but like some bard of old, with legendary tales of kings and heroes, I would like to tell it as a story, in three episodes.

    1: Variable Star

One of the difficulties of judging the ways of people is the fact that highly intelligent individuals can at the same time be in the grip of a totally cockeyed ideology.  One reads things like this:

Parents who dress their daughters in pink are holding back the economy, says minister

Those familiar with the Lord of the Rings will remember the Huorns.  According to the Lord of the Rings Wiki:
Mostly the Huorns stood as dark trees in the deepest forests, gnarled and unmoving, yet watchful. When aroused in wrath they moved swiftly as if wrapped in shadows, falling on foes with deadly and merciless strength. . . . These were wild wood spirits who were bent on the destruction of all who threatened the forests. They were dangerous to all on two legs unless they were protected by Ents.

About ten years ago, what is now the Electron Microscopy Laboratory at the University of Reading, was set up, to take over from individual EM units in other departments by purchasing more modern equipment.

On of the pleasures of working there was interaction with people from other departments, and one particularly enjoyable excursion was doing pollen samples for people, so introducing me to the science of Palynology.