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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Ethnomathematics! Doesn’t the very term conjure up visions of politically correct wallahs (and walis) trying to prove, in a postmodern way, that “all cultures are equal”?

True, previous generations of math historians had tended to be unjustifiably Eurocentric, though the really great ones, like the Swiss-American Florian Cajori (1859 - 1930) were certainly not so. But to me there are two great benefits to be gained from the study of the maths of the East.

Firstly, the achievements of China, India and the Middle East give the lie to any postmodern assertion (if that’s not an oxymoron) that mathematics is a culture-dependent thing without any fundamental underlying reality.
Not me! I've only clocked up 36 years, with two to go. But I thought that this article is worth reading: 44 Years of Academic Life: So what changed?. It's not even from a science department, but it does sum up the mood of academia in Britain today. Any thoughts from readers on the Continent or in North America?
Juno Spacecraft to Study Jupiter, we are informed by Don't people think before they give names, or choose songs? They select for weddings "I will always love you" by Whitney Houston, which is a song of irreversible parting, and I have even heard of a Church of England vicar choosing John Lennon's "Imagine there's no heaven" for something or other. I live on the eastern side of the Pond, which makes me a European, and the name of our continent is taken from that of Europa in Greek mythology.


Oct 06 2008 | comment(s)

Nachrichten aus Großbritannien

Government spies could scan every call, text and email

Ministers are considering a £12 billion plan to monitor the e-mail, telephone and internet browsing records of every person in Britain. This is the heading of an article in today's Daily Telegraph. Two questions: Would it work? (Especially with our government's record of sloppy data handling) How would one escape over the Firewall?
Welsh miners’ sons in physics Reading an article Death threat to scientists over Big Bang test, I learn that one of the leading figures behind the experiment is Lyn Evans, the son of a miner, whose fascination with science started as a boy, when he would create small explosions with his chemistry set at his council house in Aberdare, South Wales. Some years ago I attended a talk given by Sir John Meurig Thomas, FRS, himself a miner’s son from South Wales.
The mediaeval western European church had hitched its wagon very tightly to the philosophy of Aristotle, and by extension to the astronomical model of Ptolemy. This caused Galileo no small amount of aggro. One of the greatest mathematicians and physicists of Mediaeval Islam, namely Abu Ali al-Hasan ibn al-Haytham, (965-1040) encountered a similar problem.