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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Here is a somewhat provocative article by the Chief Exec of the Royal Society of Chemistry. Have a read, and please tell me what you think. (For non-UK readers, GCSEs are taken at the end of year 11, after which one is allowed to leave school.
I sent the Professor Meg Urry interview to a colleague who is quite high-up in graduate teacher training. Here is his reply .
We do have a lot of evidence about student motivation and about their view about the Nature of Science (Physics). What is disappointing about Meg's comments is that they are solely anecdotal and only related to her view, yet if she read a little more widely, she would discover a broader perspective. The ROSE project, based in Oslo, is the probably the latest and largest project on student motivation towards sciences in secondary schools, covering many countries in the modern and traditional world.


Aug 27 2008 | comment(s)

An explanation in RAP format of what the Large Hadron Collider is all about. It's nested in the following Daily Telegraph article. I enjoy it, hope y'all do too!
Was Hippasus pushed? If you are even mildly interested in the history of mathematics, it is likely that you will have heard something like the following story. The Pythagoreans (who were also into music in a big way) worshipped numbers, and believed them to be the basis of everything. If one were to do a modern caricature of this, it might go:
  Do you believe in Rock ’n’ Roll?
  Can mathematics save your soul?
By numbers, they meant whole numbers or positive integers. Whether this included ‘one’ is a moot point, because later Greek mathematicians regarded ‘one’ as the ‘generator of numbers’. One day, a man called Hippasus discovered that the square root of 2 was irrational. This went so much against the Pythagorean world view that they took him out to sea and threw him overboard. It didn’t stop there, though.
FLEMING DOES NOT RULE OK! These could be what Physics World calls Lateral Thoughts, because I originally wrote this horizontally with my leg in plaster. Here follow some snapshots of my journey through Physics, which is not a straightforward one like that of Marco Polo, but a meandering one like that of the 14th century Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta. But this is no random selection, but a selected album entitled “Electromagnetism.” The prologue to this tale finds me as a pre-teenager in the mid 1950’s, poring over my Pictorial Encyclopaedia. I eagerly drink in the graphical information along with the textual, and today I still recall the story of our Earth being pulled out of our Sun, along with the other planets, by a passing star. My chief custard pie, though, is reserved for the illustrator who depicted the arteries and ventricles of the heart, on both sides, as blue, and similarly the veins and auricles in red. Crazy heart picture
Recently some people have disputed the existence of the NEUTRON, which if this had any sound basis would cast doubt on some of my recent activities. Maybe this is because the neutron has not had much of an impact in popular culture. The only item that I remember is a song Yes to the Neutron Bomb (1981) by the Liverpool Group “Moderates”. I first went a-neutron scattering about three years ago. I arrived at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford, and went to the ISIS facility. After getting my badge and doing the safety test, I walked through the experimental hall (picture) and found myself entering a room entitled “LOQ CABIN”, although it did not look at all as if Abraham Lincoln had been born there. But what is the point of scattering neutrons?