Archive for the ‘Science & technology’ Category

A review of “The Brain” by David Eagleman

November 16th, 2017 by Roger Darlington

Eagleman is an assistant professor of neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. A wonderful presenter, he created and wrote the fascinating six-part television series “The Brain” which was first aired on PBS in the United States in 2015 and subsequently shown (and reshown) on BBC in Britain (which is how I saw it). […]

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Albert Einstein vs Philipp Lenard: a clash of intellectual titans

October 18th, 2017 by Roger Darlington

I’ve been watching recordings of the 10-part National Geographic television series called “Genius” which is a fascinating presentation of the life of the brilliant scientist Albert Einstein. A theme of the series is just how human Einstein was in his problems with family, friends and colleagues. Scientists may be incredibly intelligent but they can be subject […]

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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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