Archive for the ‘Science & technology’ Category


Word of the day: nyctohylophobia

June 2nd, 2024 by Roger Darlington

The word means: a fear of dark forests or wooded areas. It occurs in the English translation of the Chinese science fiction novel “Death’s End” by Cixin Liu. In the context of this novel, the ‘forest’ refers to the theory that, in the vastness of the universe, there are countless other civilisations. The ‘dark’ rests […]

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Is there anyone out there? How would we know?

April 28th, 2024 by Roger Darlington

If there is an alien civilisation, it is probably on a planet circling a star, right? There are an estimated 200 billion trillion stars in the universe. A lot, right? So how come we have found no evidence for any other intelligent life? I’d always assumed that evidence could come from the use of the […]

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Have there been lost civilisations? How would we know?

April 28th, 2024 by Roger Darlington

In this fascinating article, the wonderfully-named Flint Dibble – an esteemed archaeologist – effectively rebuts the arguments of Graham Hancock. He writes: “It’s the quantity of actual archaeology, an enormous body of positive evidence, that proves the negative. There is no lost civilisation from the Ice Age that was global and used advanced technology to […]

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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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