A mad magnet tale

A mad magnet tale

This story of the generation of an ultra-strong magnetic field (https://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/nanotechnology/magnetic-field-record-set-with-a-bang-1200-tesla) and the subsequent disaster reminds me of a story that I was told by a very prominent...
141. A world made of blueberries

141. A world made of blueberries

My good friend and cooleague (cool colleague) Anders Sandberg has calculated what would happen if the world suddenly turned into blueberries. I offer it as an example of how scientists think; one that might be used to help schoolchildren, and even beginning university...
Life, REF, and the half-loaf principle

Life, REF, and the half-loaf principle

One of my favourite writers is the Russian-born Englishman S.J. “Skid” Simon. Unless you are a bridge player, you have probably never heard of him, although he wrote many murder mysteries in the period before the Second World War, the best-known being...
A scientist looks at philosophy

A scientist looks at philosophy

My first (and only) genuine philosophy article published in a genuine philosophy journal. Twenty-five years on, I am still quite proud of it! All about models and what they really mean (and don’t mean). A scientist looks at philosophy IMAGE: Wikimedia...
The logical way to cut a round Christmas cake

The logical way to cut a round Christmas cake

Sir Francis Galton was a Victorian explorer, statistician, student of intelligence and heredity, and all round polymath. In his role as a statistician he came up with a way to analyze the power of prayer by arguing that royalty, being prayed for so frequently in the...
138. What is a Geiger?

138. What is a Geiger?

Today, September 30th, is the anniversary of Hans Geiger’s birth. Geiger was a student of Ernest Marsden at the Cavendish laboratory in Cambridge, Shortly after he had joined, Marsden decided that it was time for him to get his hands dirty and try a...
137. Creepy objects

137. Creepy objects

After my radio broadcast on the relics of scientists in museums around the world (http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/ockhamsrazor/preserved-scientists/8624266), I received a number of suggestions for creepy additions. So I’m starting a blog here on...
136. Brilliant bacteria

136. Brilliant bacteria

Sometimes a scientific paper comes out that generates a gasp of admiration at first sight. That is true of a paper just out in Physical Review Letters “Nonlinear self-action of light through biological suspensions” (Anna Bezryadina, Zhigang Chen (San Francisco...