Archive for the ‘Science & technology’ Category


Three of the most likely technological advances of 2018

December 31st, 2017 by Roger Darlington

Professor Jim Al-Khalili is one of my favourite scientists – able to explain complex ideas in simple and accessible form, especially quantum physics. In today’s ‘Observer” colour supplement, he writes: “What about 2018? Surely the world won’t look too different? All I can say for certain is there are three technologies we’re going hear much […]

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Among all the doom and gloom, some good news about our health prospects

December 19th, 2017 by Roger Darlington

It’s called gene editing. As a BBC story puts it: “Scientists are now able to edit genes from organisms. Gene editing has already been used for some devastating illnesses – with great success. However, it is often lengthy and costly. Only five years ago a form of gene editing was discovered with great fanfare. It […]

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A remarkable story about an amazing young woman

December 5th, 2017 by Roger Darlington

I recently attended a conference held at the BT Centre and organised by the Good Things Foundation (on whose board I have sat for six years – I step down tomorrow). The event was all about the power of the Internet to change lives for the better. The most inspirational address came from a young […]

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So apparently we’ve all evolved from the sister of the humble sponge (some more than others, Mr President)

December 1st, 2017 by Roger Darlington

“A longstanding row in animal evolution has come to a head, with a team of scientists claiming they have ended the debate over which type of creature is the sister of all other animals. Researchers have been torn for years over whether sponges or marine invertebrates known as comb jellies were the first type of […]

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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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