Units of measurement

Units of measurement

The calving of a huge iceberg from Antarctica is a serious issue in the context of global warming, but has also sparked an ongoing debate on the best unit of measurement to describe its size. “The size of Delaware” screamed the initial, U.S.-based news...
What is a jerk?

What is a jerk?

Even some physicists are surprised to learn that “jerk” is a scientific measure. That’s right! A “jerk” is the time rate of change of acceleration, or (equivalently) the third derivative of distance with respect to time. Which reminds me...
My recent radio broadcasts

My recent radio broadcasts

I live a divided life, spending half the year in Australia and the other half in the UK. While in Australia, I recorded several programmes for ABC Radio National on various aspects of the science in our lives. They are now all available on podcast. Enjoy! 1. Science...
134. Flying Blind Into the Future

134. Flying Blind Into the Future

Dramatic, unforeseen change is an increasing feature of our interconnected world. But how can we prepare for it? This is a blog summary of a feature article due to appear in “The Actuary” (July edition), and on which I will be expanding in a keynote talk...
132. A great loo story

132. A great loo story

(If any readers can tell me the origin of this, I would love to know!) Academics, and especially critics, have long been associated with “high” culture. It is only within my lifetime that their attention has increasingly been drawn towards “low” culture, with Clive...
18. The UNscientific method. Part 1.

18. The UNscientific method. Part 1.

(Feb 3, 2017) I temporarily removed this early post because it seemed to be attracting spambots. Now re-posting. Enjoy! I am often asked the question “Is there a scientific method?” If the question means “Is there just one method that all scientists accept and use by...
My career in poetry

My career in poetry

I am stimulated to write this post by the news that the “celebrated American poet Joseph Charles McKenzie” has composed a poem to celebrate Donald Trump’s inauguration. The poem contains the immortal lines “With purpose and strength he came down from his tower To...

Awkward Objects

If ever I had combined my interest in science with that in mediaeval history, this wonderful-sounding conference, taking place in Helsinki this April (https://blogs.aalto.fi/mediatutkimus/2016/12/05/cfp-awkward-objects-the-bounds-of-the-body-in-early-modern-culture/),...