Archive for the ‘Science & technology’ Category


Ever heard of the idea of a fecal transplant?

December 3rd, 2018 by Roger Darlington

No, me neither. Until this weekend when I was happily eating a delicious Chinese meal with Czech/Mexican friends over from Prague and the subject came up of basically eating someone else’s poo. Apparently it is a serious and – in some circumstances – useful process. You can read more about it here.

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The vital role of UK Biobank

October 27th, 2018 by Roger Darlington

UK Biobank is a major national and international health resource, and a registered charity in its own right, with the aim of improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of serious and life-threatening illnesses – including cancer, heart diseases, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, eye disorders, depression and forms of dementia. UK Biobank recruited 500,000 people aged […]

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Who are the best providers of communications services?

September 19th, 2018 by Roger Darlington

Choosing a communications provider should not be simply a matter of price but also of service quality – but which provider is the best for fixed, mobile or broadband? Fortunately Ofcom provides some very helpful data and I’ve reviewed the latest statistics in my new column on IT matters here. Today, at Ofcom headquarters, I’ll […]

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Who has saved more lives than any other person in history? You’ve probably never heard of him.

September 17th, 2018 by Roger Darlington

Edward Jenner (1749-1823) was an English scientist who lived in the 18th century. He discovered the first vaccine, which was for the smallpox virus. This disease was widespread at that time and killed many people. Those who were infected but survived were often left badly scarred. Jenner noticed that milkmaids who had caught the cowpox […]

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When did you last write a letter?: The rapid decline of long-form communication

September 16th, 2018 by Roger Darlington

This week, I have chaired two meetings at which we’ve discussed different forms of communication and which have led me to draw the same conclusion: we are witnessing the rapid decline of long-form personal communications whether in the form of text or voice. One meeting was at Citizens Advice which is the statutory body representing […]

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How old is the germ theory of disease?

September 12th, 2018 by Roger Darlington

I’ve recently returned from a trip to Colombia which finished in the Caribbean port of Cartagena. Since my return, I’ve started to read the classic novel by Colombian Nobel prize winning author Gabriel García Márquez “Love In The Time Of Cholera”. Although the novel does not specifically identify the location of the story, it is very […]

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Ofcom reports on a decade of digital dependency

August 2nd, 2018 by Roger Darlington

Ofcom study shows how a decade of technological revolution has transformed our behaviour One in five people spend more than 40 hours a week online Brits now need constant connection to internet, and are checking their smartphone every 12 minutes Most people in the UK are dependent on their digital devices, and need a constant […]

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Perhaps we are alone in the universe after all – the outcome of the Fermi paradox and the Drake equation

July 15th, 2018 by Roger Darlington

So many science fiction books, films and television series involve other life forms – often lots of of them – but what are the scientific chances that we are, or we are not, alone in this huge (and expanding) universe? Two of the greatest thinkers on this subject have been the Italian physicist Enrico Fermi […]

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A (very) short history of broadband Britain

June 5th, 2018 by Roger Darlington

Can you remember those early, exciting days when you moved from narrowband to broadband for your Internet connection? Instead of having to dial up each time, you were always on and, instead of a speed of as low as 28.8 kilobits per second (kps), you jumped to at least 128 kbps. A lot has happened […]

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A review of “Our Digital Future” by William Webb (2017)

April 20th, 2018 by Roger Darlington

This attempt, by a British professor who has worked for Ofcom and now runs his own consultancy, to predict the future in 10, 20 and 30 years time has three characteristics to commend it: it is short (just 120 pages), it is accessible (no specialist knowledge required), and it is eminently balanced (no over-optimism). The […]

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