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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...

Lang may yer lum reek – especially in Alaska

In Scotland, traditional New Year greeting isLang may yer lum reek meaning “long may your chimney...

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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 recent article by Nury Vittachi, Scientists discover that atheists might not exist, and that’s not a joke, received rather a lot of comments.  Among these were a few about the place of women in the world: however these tended to be lost among the welter of other comments.  Indeed, the article seemed to attract a large number of orcs.  Now in some ways I am a highly discriminatory sort of person, and here I am discriminating between trolls


Recently this headline on Real Clear Science caught my eye: Carbon-12 Nucleus Shaped Like Equilateral Triangle.  It led to an article in Physics World, entitled

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