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G.K.Chesterton (1874 – 1936) visited the United States twice, in 1921 and 1930.  I...

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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 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.

A couple of days ago, I read this on Real Clear Science:

Why Spelling Tests Don’t Help Kids Spell by Misty Adoniou

I highly recommend this short article, but I would like to pick out one sentence:

Nor is getting children to write their spelling words out 10 times, even if they have to do it in rainbow colours.

Germans: ‘We’ve found second solar system’

This sounds like something from a science fiction comic when I was young, back in the days when Dan Dare was with Spacefleet, which was effectively the RAF in Space before the Russians and Americans took over.

However, this bit of news is quite contemporary.  According to one of my favourite online newspapers*, a team of German scientists claim to have discovered a “second solar system” made up of seven planets orbiting a star similar to our own.