Archive for the “News” Category

The missus kindly held up a piece of A4 paper this lunch time outside in a howling gale so I could project an image of the Sun onto it.

An 80mm refractor with a 5X Barlow was used.  Yes the image is upside-down just as it came out of the refractor :)

Comments No Comments »

You have GOT to laugh at our present pathetic Tory government here in the UK – well either laugh or cry buckets – it’s up to you.
I have just this minute seen on the TV a promise of putting “hit squads” in to sort out failing schools in the south – IF they are voted in at the next election.
This is to go along with giving us an “in-out” EU referendum – IF they are voted in at the next election.
And this also goes with building at least 100,000 new homes – IF they are voted in at the next election.
I’m sure there’s at least another half dozen promises – IF they are voted in at the next election.


OK I think we’ve got the message guys. You think we’ve all just got off the boat and you are pretty damn sure you are going to do dismally at the next election (so are we by the way).


Why not cut through the crap and just come clean??  
If you want to impress the hell out of us – AND stand a chance at the next election – rather than just talking about it, and promising us jam tomorrow, why not get on with the bloody job?

Comments No Comments »

Thor Heyerdahl, great adventurer and explorer would have been 100 today.

He created a great impression on a very young lad with his book “Kon Tiki” about an expedition aboard a balsa wood raft.  I recall building my own wooden Kon Tikis and sailing them on St. Valentine’s Park pond.

Academics did not think much of Thor’s pronouncements, and likewise Thor didn’t think too much of Academics – something we both have in common.

Unfortunately recent DNA studies have shown that some of his migration theories are incorrect – but he showed us that practically such migrations were possible, even if they did not actually occur.

Great for thinking outside the box, great adventurer, great explorer, and a man who sought his own path without resorting to the support of others – a sorely missed, unique personality.

Comments No Comments »

Very interesting. Did a very quick and simple IQ test I found on the Internet (expecting it to be completely useless) and it came up with the same number from a “professional” test that took well over an hour. Obviously worth a go if you want to know and you’re short of time.

IQ Test
IQ

Comments No Comments »

We are it seems surrounded by trouble and strife.  What I have written below came into my head almost complete – in one go.  I don’t believe it came from God :)  But it might have :) :)

I live in the south of the U.K. and I am defined by the Government of the day as English.  Do I, together with the millions who live with me in England actually “own” this land?  Already I hope you can see what a stupid question this is, and where it is leading.  Of course you do not “own” the land.  For the moment you are a mere squatter on the piece of dirt where you were dropped by your mother and that’s about it.  If you are extremely lucky you might be allowed to squat on your patch for around 80 years or so, not much more, and the way most of you go about business, it is likely to be a helluva lot less.  But don’t you at least “own” the house you live in, the one that you have bought and paid for?  Well you might think so, but does the house?  When you peg out and the house belongs to someone else will they now “own” the house, or will they like you just be squatting there for a short time?

You do not own the patch of land you and your neighbours are squatting on, you are (very) temporary custodians, and to be frank, you’re making a pretty shit job of it on the whole.  No land, country or house within a country actually belongs to you – you are simply a temporary squatter, get used to it.

Second in the list.  We have a group of Philosophies that create anything but the peace and goodwill they claim to champion, we come to Religions.  Don’t know if you’ve managed to work this one out for yourself yet (personal observation says that you haven’t) but every Religion on the planet is man-made.  Do you get that?  Every faith that you follow has been cobbled together by a man or a group of men.  There is NOTHING that can be pointed to that has come “directly from God”.  A man writes down words that he says God spoke to him.  There’s a name for people that hear voices.  A man claims that God has written “His thoughts” in stone, in metal sheet, on papyrus – you name it, God has written on it.  You actually believe that?  You don’t think for a nanosecond that the bloke that produces these wondrous relics actually wrote the stuff himself?  Let me have your name and address – I’d like to do business with you.  There may well be a God, but if there is, He does not intervene in your everyday life and He does not count the fall of every sparrow.  It is now long overdue for you to start growing up – you need to start taking responsibility for your own actions – and that’s very painful.

Lastly, your ever so finite lifetime.  Your one glimpse through the extremely narrow window to have a peek at what’s going on around here.  The full window stretches to 4.5 billion years into the past, and quite a few billion years into the future, with or without Homo Sapiens treading the Earth, almost certainly without I would say the way things are going.  You have this infinitesimally small window of a few decades (at best) that you are allowed to glimpse through and yet you act on a daily basis as if you have an infinity of time stretched out in front of you.  Sorry but you don’t.  The afterlife is something made up by the people in charge that don’t want their workforce going nuts on them.  There are Indians in the Amazonian rain forest who on their deathbed will wail and scream before just death, Christians think this is atrocious and attempt to placate them with their Religion.  Bloody right you should wail and scream before death because that’s the end of your all too brief time on this wondrous world, your allotted span has come to an end and you will not be around to see how things turn out.  A finite lifetime is a stinking trick, a pretty sick joke, and we’re all the comedians.

Now tell me again what exactly you are fighting about and what you are so ready to lay down your (very short) life for.

POSTSCRIPT:

You come into this world with nothing, and you leave it likewise.  The only thing you do have any control over is how much harm, or good, you do during your watch.

Comments No Comments »

It does not diminish the beauty of a sunset to know a little bit about it.

Smart man!

Comments No Comments »

Yesterday’s “Pointless” programme on BBC1 had me more than a little confused and I just looked up the life of Marie Curie to try and sort out my confusion.

One of the question categories was on Marie Curie, and two of the questions in the category were:

(1) What element did she discover?  (2) What subject was her Nobel Prize in?

I thought I knew both answers.  For the first I knew the element was Polonium, named after her native Poland.  However the contestant answered Radium and that is the answer that “Pointless” had as well.  Turns out that Marie Curie discovered BOTH Radium and Polonium – how about that then!!

For the second question I knew she had a Nobel Prize in Physics, but the female contestant wasn’t sure if her Nobel Prize was in Physics or Chemistry.  “Pointless” gave the answer as Physics.  Once again the correct answer is BOTH!!!!!  She got the Prize in Physics in 1903 and the Prize in Chemistry in 1911.  The only other person to receive 2 Nobel Prizes in two separate disciplines was Linus Pauling who won the Prize in Chemistry in 1954 and the Peace Prize in 1962.  You may be wondering about John Bardeen.  John Bardeen also got two Nobel Prizes, but both were in the same discipline – Physics.  In 1956 he got the Prize for semiconductor and transistor theory, and in 1972 he got the prize for his part in the Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer (BCS) theory of superconductivity.

Now ain’t that all interesting? :) :)

 

Comments No Comments »

There is some current web-wisdom going around that the human eye is unable to see polarised light – this is about as accurate as the observations of Mars as big as the full Moon.

With nothing better to do whilst sunbathing on a beach on a Greek island I practically put it to the test whether I could see regions of polarised light or not with the naked eye.

If you’ve done some basic optics you will know that if you look at the regions 90 degrees horizontally to the right and the left of the Sun, then these regions should be quite highly polarised.  Why?  Because any dust (dielectric) in these regions will be receiving light from the Sun at a glancing (shallow) angle and the light that is reflected from the dielectric towards your eye will be polarised.

I took a look at these two regions with the naked eye and saw nothing unusual.  I then picked up my Polaroid sunglasses and rotated them in front of my eye over these regions.  A bright patch appeared and disappeared depending on the orientation of the sunglasses, this was clearly a region emitting polarised light.  Now knowing precisely where to look I checked it out with the naked eye and could clearly see two mauve/purple regions precisely where the polarised light was coming from.  So the eye IS able to detect regions that are producing polarised light.  Mine can anyway :)

 

Comments No Comments »

Symbiosis or Evolution, or maybe a little of both?  It doesn’t really matter.  If you don’t know what I’m on about in the first sentence then you need not read any further and it won’t ruin your day.

Gaia – lots of misconceptions here – Gaia is NOT an organism, Gaia is a system.  A system that includes both living, and what we call non-living objects.  You don’t believe me?  Well the living objects certainly have a massive impact on our Planet’s atmospheric composition.  You don’t believe me again?  Then why do you think those looking for life on other planets propose using spectroscopy to look at the atmospheric components – and thus the clue as to whether life exists there or not?

Or our seas, rich in algae and plankton not only do they have a huge atmospheric impact, these life forms also have a necessity for the sea’s PH to be within certain bounds for their very existence.  So what?

I have written published papers on Biomimetics where I state that if Nature has produced a solution, whether aerodynamic, optical or hydrodynamic to some survival problem, then that solution is likely to be highly optimised and we are unlikely to be able to improve upon it – apart from using materials (like metals) that Nature doesn’t seem to incorporate into her living systems to any great extent.  Note that the living systems are not “heading” towards some sort of “perfection”, there are random changes occurring that may, or may not aid survival.  Those changes that do aid survival will allow the continuation of the life form, and vice-versa.  There is no “intelligence” involved here, but there are enormous timescales involved, timescales beyond human comprehension – and this is what makes evolution such a difficult concept to grasp.  But just take two things from this paragraph – very long timescales, and changes to living organisms that bring them more into “balance” with their surroundings in order to increase their probability of survival.

It is believed that the Earth is around 4.54 billion years old, and that life on Earth began around 3.8 billion years ago, unless you’re one of those that believe life began around 4,004 B.C.  So life has had 3.8 billion years to thrive, multiply, evolve and undergo symbiosis, creating billions upon billions of different bacteria, viruses, plants, animals, insects and birds – and during these geological timescales all these life forms have been undergoing change to increase their probability of survival in an environment that was also undergoing change.

In 2014 A.D. we are over 3.8 billion years down the life road, and the “system” that has evolved over all this time, Gaia, is now taking a very severe bashing from just one species – Homo Sapiens.  The system is actually having bloody great holes cut out of it, and what happens if you have a highly complex system in a quasi-equilibrium state and you take bloody great holes out of it?  It changes of course in an attempt to regain some sort of quasi-equilibrium.  And how does it do that?  How the hell do we know?  This is a multi-billion, probably multi-trillion component system we’re talking about here – who can possibly know how such a complex system reacts to the wiping out of whole animal species, and the felling of obscene areas of rain forest?  This is not Gaia “fighting back” as some sort of conscious organism that feels pain (I hope) – this is a complex life/non-life system in quasi-equilibrium that is having severe external constraints put upon the system – by our complete disrespect for our planet basically.

Is there global warming, climate change, melting of the polar ice caps, massive increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, life-form extinctions and a myriad other worrying things going on right now?  Some will argue that some of these things are not happening, and that some may be happening but they are “natural” occurrences and not the work of Homo Sapiens.  Then again, the average Homo Sapiens, like the Ostrich, is a master at sticking his head in a bucket of sand.

Comments No Comments »

A new course is available at the New Forest Observatory for those wishing to set up their own “Mini-WASP array”.

Comments No Comments »