Archive for the ‘Science & technology’ Category


The grim record of covid deaths in the United States

December 15th, 2021 by Roger Darlington

The US death toll from Covid-19 has passed 800,000, a once-unimaginable figure seen as doubly tragic given that more than 200,000 of those lives were lost after vaccines became available last spring. The figure represents the highest reported toll of any country in the world and is likely to be even higher. The US accounts […]

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How did Covid variants go from Delta to Omnicon?

November 29th, 2021 by Roger Darlington

At the end of May 2021, the World Health Organisation (WHO) adopted a new system of naming Covid variants of concern or special interest with letters of the Greek alphabet. It did this to avoid stigmatising countries or regions where such a new variant was first identified. At the time, there were four variants of […]

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I bet you’ve never visited a materials testing house

November 7th, 2021 by Roger Darlington

It’s a (very) little known fact that, when I left school in Manchester, I thought I wanted to be a mechanical engineer. Indeed I obtained a place on a university degree course to study mechanical engineering, but deferred my entry by a year to go into industry for some practical training. I learned very quickly […]

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How did Bletchley Park break Nazi Germany’s Enigma code?

November 6th, 2021 by Roger Darlington

I’ve read the novel “Enigma” written by Robert Harris [my review here]; I’ve seen the film directed by Michael Apsted [my review here]; and this weekend, I visited Bletchley Park where a British team built on the work of Poles to break the Enigma code used by the German army, navy and air force during […]

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When and how did the Internet start?

October 29th, 2021 by Roger Darlington

International Internet Day is marked annually on 29 October. The day commemorates the anniversary of the first message that was sent between two computers on 29 October 1969 through ARPANET, the predecessor of the Internet. They intended to transmit the word “LOGIN,” but the system crashed just after they had sent the first two letters. Hence, […]

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A review of an impressive new book: “Exponential” by Azeem Azhar

October 24th, 2021 by Roger Darlington

Around a decade and a half ago, Azeem Azhar – what a wonderfully alliterative name – and I served together as members of the Consumer Panel of Ofcom. the UK’s regulator of telecommunications and broadcasting. He is much younger and much smarter than me and went on to become a tech entrepreneur and tech analyst. […]

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Word of the day: immiserate

October 6th, 2021 by Roger Darlington

I’m reading a book called “Exponential” by Azeem Azhar, someone I used to know when we sat together as members of Ofcom’s Consumer Panel. One of his favourite words – one I’ve hardly seen before- is ‘immiserate’, a verb meaning to make miserable or to cause to become impoverished. It seems that many new technologies […]

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How many covid deaths have there been now?

August 31st, 2021 by Roger Darlington

Each evening on the BBC’s News At Ten”, it announces the latest daily death toll but, for a long time now, it has failed to mention the total number of deaths. That figure for the UK, as of today, is 132,485. That’s almost twice the number of non-combatants killed in this country in the Second […]

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A review of “The Secret Body” by Daniel M Davis (2021)

August 4th, 2021 by Roger Darlington

There is a certain irony that, a year and a half into the global pandemic when I finally fell foul of the coronavirus and had to self-isolate, top of my reading list was this book with the sub-title “How the new science of the human body is changing the way we live”. Although the author […]

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Word of the day: aphelion

July 5th, 2021 by Roger Darlington

This is the point at which the Earth is furthest from the sun. It occurs because the earth’s orbit is not circular but mildly elliptical. The precise moment of its occurrence this year is 23.27 BST today 5 July. At this point, we will be 5M kilometres further from the sun than in early January […]

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