Cobras and pencil stubs – be careful what you wish for

Here in the UK we are in the conference season, when political parties get together to tell the faithful what they intend to do if they get into government. Not being a political blog, I’m not commenting on proposed tax cuts, or increases in government spending, or public schools,* or homelessness, or anything else, butContinue reading “Cobras and pencil stubs – be careful what you wish for”

Luminous toothpaste

Imagine my delight when I discovered a toothpaste that promised luminous teeth. I imagined lighting my way at night with a glowing smile, or even having British teeth brighter than those in the United States. Of course, I’m not so gullible to take this literally and can spot marketing hyperbole when I see it. Nevertheless,Continue reading “Luminous toothpaste”

How do we know humans are responsible for climate change?

I write this a few days after David Attenborough’s program, “Climate Change – The Facts” appeared on the BBC. It received great acclaim but like so many accounts it explained the consequences, not the science behind how we know climate change is anthropogenic. It’s not surprising there are so few accounts of the science becauseContinue reading “How do we know humans are responsible for climate change?”

Is Science Popular?

Scientists often despair at the general lack of scientific understanding by the general public. And to be fair, that understanding is not brilliant, evidenced by regular surveys. I have summarised a snapshot of a series of surveys from across the world below to illustrate the point. Percentage of people getting the right answer to aContinue reading “Is Science Popular?”

… damn lies and statistics

The saying, “there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics” is attributed to Mark Twain but may have originated from Benjamin Disraeli. It’s one of those phrases that has been misquoted more times than I can remember because in truth statistics is a branch of mathematics essential to understanding the world. StatisticsContinue reading “… damn lies and statistics”

Old in a young age

The stereotype of people of my age is someone who, when asked to press “any key” on the computer, asks, “where’s the anykey”. I’m not like that. Although my children might smile when I claim to be technically savvy, I like technology and I’m generally the antithesis of a Luddite. Just recently, for example IContinue reading “Old in a young age”

You say 'aluminum,' I say 'aluminium' let's call the whole thing off

News headlines are buzzing over Donald Trump kicking off a trade war. In amongst the smoke and mirrors of politics one thing is very clear, the name of the 13th element is pronounced differently in North America and Europe. In Europe the discussion surrounds US tariffs on steel and ‘aluminium’, while in North America it’sContinue reading “You say 'aluminum,' I say 'aluminium' let's call the whole thing off”