Archive for the ‘Science & technology’ Category

A review of “Reality Is Not What It Seems” by Carlo Rovelli

September 19th, 2017 by Roger Darlington

Italian theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli seems to have replaced British academic Stephen Hawking as the foremost exponent of the latest thinking on basic physics in terms which are generally accessible to a non-specialist readership. For those of us who access Rovelli’s work in English, his first popular work was “Seven Brief Lessons On Physics”, but […]

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Word of the day: synesthesia

September 7th, 2017 by Roger Darlington

Synesthesia is a perceptual phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. Synesthetic associations can occur in any combination and any number of senses or cognitive pathways. In one common form of synesthesia, known as grapheme-colour synesthesia, numbers are perceived as […]

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Who have you heard of? Albert Einstein or David Hilbert?

September 4th, 2017 by Roger Darlington

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always known of the German-born physicist and humanitarian Albert Einstein but, until a few days ago, I’d never heard of the German mathematician David Hilbert. I came across Hilbert in the book I am currently reading: “Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey To Quantum Gravity” […]

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Are some operations only effective because of the placebo effect?

August 20th, 2017 by Roger Darlington

The effectiveness of alternative or homeopathic medicine is simply down to the placebo effect, but it may be that a number of routine operations only achieve their efficacy through the same process. In a fascinating article in today’s “Observer” newspaper, one surgeon comes clean on what is going on: “Nobody is suggesting that a liver […]

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A review of the science book “The Big Picture: On The Origins Of Life, Meaning And The Universe Itself” by Sean Carroll

April 6th, 2017 by Roger Darlington

Carroll is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology and an award winner for writing science books. As the title suggests, this book is hugely ambitious with a vast and complicated subject matter. At 440 pages, it is probably longer than it needs to be and at points is a struggle to comprehend, […]

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Word of the day: abiogenesis

March 17th, 2017 by Roger Darlington

Currently I’m reading a fascinating but challenging book by Sean Carroll, an American theoretical physicist. It has the title “The Big Picture: On the Origins Of Life, Meaning Anad The Universe Itself”. One of the subjects discussed is abiogenesis which the origin of life. The truth is that we do not have a single agreed-upon […]

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Suppose the speed of light has not always been the same?

March 4th, 2017 by Roger Darlington

This week, I found myself with some time to kill and bought a copy of the “New Scientist” magazine. A special feature looked at “five impossible things about the universe that just might be true”. The first of these related to the speed of light. Our current thinking, as embodied in Einstein’s general theory of […]

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Ever heard of the Shapley attractor?

February 1st, 2017 by Roger Darlington

No? You surprise me! It just happens to be the most massive structure in the observable universe. It is a dense “super-cluster” of galaxies some 750 million light years away. So what, I hear you cry. Well, the Shapley attractor is pulling the Milky Way through space at a speed of 1.25 million miles per […]

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The brain is a truly wondrous thing

January 23rd, 2017 by Roger Darlington

Today, I made another hospital visit to a friend who had a serious stroke almost four months ago. He has lost the use of his right arm and right leg and struggles to put together a coherent sentence although, with physical therapy and speech therapy, he is slowly improving and hopes to be allowed home […]

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Word of the day: syzygy

November 14th, 2016 by Roger Darlington

In astronomy, a syzygy (from the Ancient Greek suzugos meaning, “yoked together”) is a straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies in a gravitational system. The word is often used in reference to the Sun, Earth, and either the Moon or a planet, where the latter is in conjunction or opposition. Such a configuration explains why […]

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