Betelgeuse, Gamow, and a Big Red Horse

There has been a lot of talk recently of Betelgeuse possibly going supernova this century or not...

Climate Change, the Walrus and the Carpenter

I have recently watched two videos on climate change by Sabine Hossenfelder.  The first one...

A Very Large Hadron Collider?

Frontpage image: Illustration of spherical explosion (kilonova) of two neutron stars (AT2017gfo/GW170817)...

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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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Ploughing through the Codex just now, I come across this (with particular reference to MRSA), by Brigitte Nerlich of the University of Nottingham, England:

Words matter in public health

... media coverage of hygiene and cleanliness in hospitals tended to portray doctors and nurses engaged in a heroic "battle" against "intelligent super bugs. This was personified by the modern matron wielding the weapon of "cleanliness." Interviews with hospital matrons revealed a gap between the media portrayal and the reality on the wards. Matrons said that the limitations in their authority over contractors, and time constraints made it impossible for them to spend even half their time as a "visible presence" on the wards. ...
I have often found reference to medieval and early modern folks most helpful in debugging things that have bugged me since I did science when I was a student in the Sixties (for me they did not swing). One particular bunch are the Oxford Calculators, also known as the Merton scholars. As the Wikipedia article states:

Until recently, I had only known of Thomas Carlyle as a writer, mightily significant in the 19th century, but somehow superannuated by the time I heard of him.  However, recently I learnt that he is responsible for that famous English mis-definition:

A straight line is the shortest distance between two points.

which he gave us while translating the Eléments de géométrie of Legendre.  The great French mathematician actually wrote

"La ligne droit est le plus court chemin d'un point à un autre."

I was reading about recent excavations at Amheida, a buried city in Egypt’s Dakhleh Oasis, where it is beginning to appear that agricultural development was taking place before the settlement of the Nile valley and rise of the Pharaohs. I thereupon turned the Al-Ahram Weekly Online, in order to search their Heritage section, and read about the horrendous murder of the wife of an Egyptian doctoral student here in Europe. It is always very sad when tragedy befalls people coming from abroad to work or study in our universities and institutes, but this incident is particularly gruesome.

The man who stopped smoking

is the title of a video from the British Medical Journal (BMJ).  The blurb says:

Richard Doll was a luminary of clinical research whose case control study, published in the BMJ in 1950, first identified smoking as an important cause of cancer and other diseases. The paper's findings were received with apathy, anger and disbelief. This 10 minute film to promote the BMJ archive now being fully searchable back to 1840 charts Doll's remarkable life and the impact of both of this paper, and his follow-up British Doctors' Study.
One of the pleasures of working at Reading University is being able to walk across to our Agriculture Department at lunchtime and join the table talk.  Today, they were discussing the following press release.

Rising energy costs give an important role for organic farming in securing long-term food supply

The nub of this is as follows: