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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Even on this side of the Atlantic, we have noticed:
Burris, standing at the governor’s side, said he’s eager to get to work in Washington “to face a convergence of parallel crises.”
 One’s first thought is that either in Chigaco or Washington the geometry is of Riemann’s elliptic variety. 

But it then struck me, that the word “parallel” has long taken on the meaning “simultaneous” as in multi-tasking or even parallel processing.  Another case where mathematical and scientific usage run counter to (or even athwart – lovely old Anglo Saxon word) common usage.
I have received this request from a friend roughly 5,000 miles away:
My maternal cousin has to prepare a write up for her school.  She needs to write something on 'fun physics'.

You may remember the melamine scandal where in September this year over a thousand babies were made ill and four died as a result of producers putting melamine, or worse, melamine scrap  into milk to increase its apparent protein content as determined by standard analytical methods (basically nitrogen determination.)
The British Medical Journal has been busy overturning medical myths, according to BBC News.  
"Both physicians and non-physicians sometimes believe things about our bodies that just are not true,"
wrote Dr Rachel Vreeman and Dr Aaron Carroll in this august publication.  But the BBC continues:
We've all been told to put a hat on in winter because most heat is lost through the head.

The researchers even found that the US Army Field manual for survival recommends covering your head in cold weather because around 40-45% of body heat is lost through the head.
So says an article in the Sunday Telegraph, following the death of Oliver Postgate, creator and writer of some of Britain’s most popular children’s television programmes, namely Pingwings, Pogles’ Wood, Noggin the Nog, Ivor the Engine, Clangers and Bagpuss, of which the last was voted in a 1999 poll to be the most popular children’s television programme of all time.
Recently News Account have published an item The Meaning Of Milton 400 Years Later. This has led me to some thoughts.

It was only when I was into my forties that I got around to reading Paradise Lost. To start with, there are some bits that really stick in my scientific mind. Take this bit where Satan gets ejected from Heaven:

Him the Almighty Power
hurled headlong flaming from th' eternal sky
with hideous ruin and combustion down
to bottomless perdition, there to dwell
in adamantine chains and penal fire,
who durst defy the Omnipotent to arms.