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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Yours truly has been watching telly again!  (I hope no-one will get the idea that the couch potato might be a significant source of starch.) 

This time, on our local BBC news service, we hear how researchers at the University of Portsmouth Institute of Biomedical and Biomolecular Science are cooperating with their Institute of Marine Sciences to harness the Gribble.  
I read this in today's Daily Telegraph:

Campaigns to protect native species 'are racist'

In a Times News Review interview, Marcus du Sautoy, our new Oxford University Professor for the Public Understanding of Science, says:
I became a mathematician and not a scientist because science often goes wrong .... You do an experiment 100 times and you get the same result. You do it for the 101st time and something different happens. No one would be my lab partner at school because all my experiments went wrong. Maybe I’m a bad choice for this job.
I have watched two so far of a BBC2 TV series The City Uncovered with Evan Davis, of which the three parts are:
  1. Banks and How to Break Them: Evan returns to first principles, and explains exactly how a bank is supposed to work. (R)
  2. Tricks with Risk: In the second of his series of documentaries on modern finance, Evan Davis heads into the world of the City's risk professionals – the derivatives whizzkids, and hedge fund managers.
  3. When Markets Go Mad: Evan Davis looks at the roots of the current crisis.
Dengue fever is a nasty disease found all over the tropics, with names like break-bone fever referring to the severity of the pain it causes.  It is carried mostly by the mosquito Aedes aegypti, but also by related species.  I have just read three reports on the BBC science site of techniques aimed at controlling the fever by attacking the mosquito in its sex life.
Here at the University of Reading, the good folks of the Association for Science Education have been holding their annual conference, and RU staff members like myself are invited to participate.

The event manifests itself by an exhibition marquee taking up the larger part of our central lawn, and various traders and institutions are plying their wares.  One which caught my eye was
a Mobile Science Lab – Data logging & computing in a single product
with 65 varieties of probes: humidity, temperature, oxygen for starters.  The brochure describes it as a

  • Student computer with built-in data logger, removing logger/PC communication problems (I like that aspect!!)