Archive for the ‘Science & technology’ Category

A review of the new science book “White Holes” by Carlo Rovelli

March 10th, 2024 by Roger Darlington

This is the third book that I’ve read written by the famous Italian theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli. He has a lively and engaging style, unusual for scientists, and this latest work contains a series of references to Dante’s “Inferno”. But the concepts about which he writes are hard to comprehend. Black holes used to be […]

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What do you know about zero-degree longitude and the international date line?

January 26th, 2024 by Roger Darlington

The location of zero-degree latitude is obvious (the equator), but the location of zero-degree longitude is a purely political decision. It was variously placed at the Canary & Madeira Islands, the Azores, the Cape Verde Islands, Rome, Copenhagen, Jerusalem, St Petersburg, Pisa, Paris, and Philadelphia (among other places) before it finally settled down in London. No […]

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Have you ever watched ASMR videos? Apparently it’s a thing.

January 24th, 2024 by Roger Darlington

If you follow social media, you may have noticed a few of the more than 13 million ASMR videos online. Many of the videos create ASMR-inducing sounds to play out social situations with actions that may trigger a response. The videos have rapidly gained popularity, but they may still leave you wondering: What is ASMR […]

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A review of “The Future Of Geography” by Tim Marshall

November 26th, 2023 by Roger Darlington

Marshall has had outstanding success with two huge bestsellers: “Prisoners Of Geography” (2015) and “The Power Of Geography” (2021). Like the last chapter of the last book, this work is not really about geography but all about space. In his acknowledgements to this latest book, he thanks his publishers “for the freedom to write what […]

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If you were going to launch a rocket into space, which direction would you do it? East or west?

November 17th, 2023 by Roger Darlington

Most countries launch space rockets eastwards because the Earth spins west to east and launching eastwards gives rockets a boost from the Earth’s rotational speed. But Israel, with its Shavit space launch vehicle, launches due west against the planet’s spin. This ensures that the rockets fly over the Mediterranean Sea and not over Israel and […]

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Is there intelligent life out there or are we alone in the universe?

November 5th, 2023 by Roger Darlington

If it is suggested that humankind is probably the only intelligent life in the universe, some people condemn this as an arrogant thought. But this is not a matter of attitude or emotion; it is a matter of science and probability. On the one hand, it seems impossible that humans can be alone in the […]

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Word of the day: kilonova

October 26th, 2023 by Roger Darlington

I’m endlessly fascinated by the size and complexity of the known universe. We seem to know so little and are regularly discovering new objects. So I know about the type of object called a supernova. But today is the first time that I’ve heard of a kilovova. A kilonova (also called a macronova) is a […]

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Searching for WIMPS in North Yorkshire

August 10th, 2023 by Roger Darlington

WIMPS are weakly interacting massive particles. These subatomic entities are the most likely source of dark matter which, it is believed, accounts for around 85% of the universe’s mass. There’s a plan to discover these little WIMPS 3,000 feet underground in a working mine in North Yorkshire. Wouldn’t that be something?

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Where is everybody? It’s called the Fermi paradox.

July 30th, 2023 by Roger Darlington

This week, various people in the United States Congress became very excited about possible evidence for extraterrestrials visiting Earth. I don’t believe it for a moment. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence – and so far there’s none. It is a paradox associated with the Italian-American Enrico Fermi (who makes an appearance in the current blockbuster […]

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What is colour and is yours the same as mine?

May 30th, 2023 by Roger Darlington

“For a long time, people believed that colours were objective, physical properties of objects or of the light that bounced off them. Even today, science teachers regale their students with stories about Isaac Newton and his prism experiment, telling them how different wavelengths of light produce the rainbow of hues around us. But this theory […]

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