Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Church: Blackcurrant squash “cures” cancer

13 August 2012

I used to think that selling sham cures was mainly the purview of quacks out to make some quick cash by exploiting desperate and vulnerable people, but it seems religion is getting in on the scam.



6 August 2012

Following from last week’s post, I’m pleased to report a successful landing:

One of the first images transmitted by Curiosity from the surface of Mars. (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Curiosity sees its own shadow. Hopefully that doesn’t mean 6 more years of NASA budget cuts. (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Now the real work begins:

Seven minutes of terror

30 July 2012

Next week the most recent Mars mission – Mars Science Laboratory, or Curiosity – is scheduled to set down on the surface of the red planet. The mission has four goals: Determine whether Mars could have ever supported life, study the climate of Mars, study the geology of Mars, and plan for a human mission to Mars.

The Curiosity rover, being roughly the size of a Mini Cooper, is much larger than any of the previous mars rovers. As a result, the approach of using airbags to cushion the final landing stage, used in previous rover missions, isn’t an option.


Overpriced rocks will stop your brain from frying

23 July 2012

Yesterday I went to check out a “mind, body and spirit fair” being held near me. I’m highly skeptical of the kinds of things promoted at these events, but decided to go out of curiosity. I’d never seen a psychic, medium or clairvoyant perform in person, and was hoping to see if I could get one of them to give me a reading which revealed something specific and personal, rather than vague and obvious.


Does eye movement betray lying?

16 July 2012

No. It doesn’t.


Which God particle is it?

9 July 2012

Last week researchers at CERN announced that the have observed a new particle which is consistent with the theory of the Higgs boson. Confirmation of the existence of this particle will explain why other particles have mass (see here for a nice explanation). Since it helps to explain a fundamental property of matter, the Higgs boson is occasionally referred to as the “God particle” by those outside those scientific community. But, the question which the teams at CERN haven’t answered is which God?


The wonders of the universe are not for sale

25 June 2012

Following the recommendations published in the Finch report, I’d like to ask a fairly simple question: should scientific publications be freely available?

At the moment most journals charge the reader for access. To those of us already familiar with scientific publishing, this is nothing new. This is how it’s been for years. But does that make it right? Readers can either pay for individual articles, or subscribe to the journal. Sounds reasonable. What about if you include the fact that the author of the article also has to pay to have his or her article published? What is the price of knowledge?

Before reading any further, stop and think for a moment. What would you pay for access to the results of publicly funded research?


Fusion: The quest for abundant, clean energy

31 March 2012

On Wednesday 4 April 2012 the Institute of Physics’s 2012 Annual Plasma Physics conference will be hosting a public lecture which will discuss the current state of the research into producing fusion energy.

The lecture will take place in the Maplethorpe Building at St. Hugh’s College, Oxford from 18:00 to 19:00. The event is free to attend, and is open to all. See below for further information and how to register your interest.

Edit: registration for this event is now closed to all those without functioning time machines.


Foggy foolishness

17 March 2012

In the last couple of weeks there have been quite a few foggy mornings. While driving to work on those days, I noticed that a fair number people had forgotten to switch on their lights. Note, when I say lights, I don’t just mean fog lights. I mean lights of any kind. Not even side lights (which, let’s be in no doubt about this, do nothing to help others see you when it’s foggy).

To make the commute slightly more interesting, I started counting the number of moving vehicles without any lights on. I soon noticed a trend: the heavier the fog, the more people I spotted driving without lights on.