Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Militant Atheists

So this is what "militant atheist" means (in the eyes of believers)...

Tuesday titter

I've only felt like this for a very few box-sets, House, Soprano's, Breaking Bad not much else..

Collide and conquer

I was sitting in the car with my teenage son yesterday and we were listening to someone on the radio talking about the announcement from scientists at the LIGO detector this week. In it they were discussing the incredible detection of both visible and gravitational waves from a neutron star collision, in which the flash of the smash was seen via telescopes at exactly the same time as a gravitational wave passed through our planet, distorting space-time under our very feet. I noticed that he (my Son) was fiddling with his phone and not really paying attention, I asked if he was impressed at this detection but he said that he wasn't very interested in it and didn't really understand what was being said. I can understand his frustration, it's unlikely that many people really understood the magnitude of this feat nor the amount of skill, dedication and hard-work required to achieve it. 

I took some time to try and break it down for him, explaining what happens to stars as they grow old and run out of fuel, how gravity causes them to collapse and become super dense and how even a teaspoon of matter from such a star would weigh millions of tons. Then I asked him to imagine what it would be like for two of these super-heavy monsters to smash into each other, creating a black-hole and completely obliterating themselves causing ripples in the very fabric of space-time itself, and, how unlikely it was that we would be able to see all of this from Earth and detect the minute distortion at exactly the same time as seeing the explosion through various telescopes, demonstrating that gravity travels at the same speed as light. Then to cap it all, to think about the fact that all this mayhem was actually going on over 130 million years ago, when dinosaurs roamed our planet and before Human beings had even evolved on the savannas of Africa, ergo, it's amazing what we can achieve and learn when we just collaborate.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Seasonal vistors

We had an unusual visitor to our little garden today, it's a Goldcrest, a lovely little bird with a striking yellow/gold stripe on its head. It must be something to do with the weather at the moment and also that I spent most of the day standing by the kitchen window (I was brewing beer and had my camera out, hence the snapshot) I noticed several interesting species of bird including, coal, long tailed, blue and great tits, chaffinches, wrens and several jays, all of whom popped by briefly to (I guess) feed on the various insects around who are being fooled by our Indian Summer into much higher activity levels than usual, either that or birds are oddly attracted to the smell of malt!

A little of the dark-side

It's a beautiful day here in the South East of England, unseasonably warm and sunny. So, to celebrate I thought I'd kick off a full brew-day to make a Christmas beer, a dark Winter-warmer! In the photo above you can see the different grains I used, we have pale malt, pilsner malt, roasted malt, chocolate malt, brown malt, crystal malt and various other adjuncts like flaked oats and lactose. Hopefully this little lot will combine to make an unctuous black beer  that I'm going to flavour with cacao nibs soaked in Cointreau, giving it a kind of Chocolate-orange vibe, should finish around a cockle warming 8-9% ABV so ideal to sip (in suitable moderation) next to a roaring fire.

Here you can see the grains "mashing", it's essentially just mixing them with hot water and holding a steady temperature of around 65 Centigrade for around 90 minutes. When you do this enzymes in the barley convert the starch in the crushed husks into sugar giving the yeast something to further convert into alcohol. You can't really see it in this picture but the final liquid (wort) came out treacle-black and already visibly viscous, the beer will take a couple of weeks to ferment and then another 6 weeks to condition in bottles, hopefully it'll be just about ready as the holiday season kicks-off!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Puking, relatively

Reading this book currently; fascinating stuff, some of which I already know and some I don't. It's basically a history of science kind of book but drills into a little more detail on key discoveries in physics, like the relationship between electricity and magnetism and general relativity. 

I like Krauss, he's a good writer and even better speaker, he uses humour to get points across and generally keep the audience engaged in what can sometimes be a fairly dry subject. Last night I read his through his attempt at explaining relativity and the speed of light using a metaphor involving his daughter projectile vomiting onto the back of his head whilst driving to nursery school. Slightly more tangible than clocks, mirrors and steam trains; looking forward to the next instalment.

Nostalgia ain't what it used to be.

Feeling nostalgic today, must be my age..

I remember when this song (see image above) was in the charts (35 years ago!) I was at university and had a week-end job as a chef in a greasy-spoon cafe a couple of miles from where I was living at the time. I used to cycle there and back and the route had a really long hill section in it. I recall having this track pumping out of my Sony Walkman, cranking the volume up to 11 as I got faster and faster down the hill on the way to work, it felt exhilarating. As things levelled out and I was at maximum velocity an open top triumph Spitfire drew alongside me being driven by some flash bloke with shades and a tash, to my horror, in the passenger seat was my recently "ex" girlfriend! Clearly she had "moved-on" and feeling somewhat out-done that I was still on a push-bike and she was in a snazzy sports car I struck my best "uninterested look" by directing my gaze upwards and away from the car. I felt it was going well (the music was helping) until I realised that, in my state of distraction, my front wheel had brushed the curb and I was in one of those uncontrollable wobbles that you sometimes get on two wheels when steering corrections get ever more violent and pronounced ending in inevitable disaster.

Over the handlebars I went, the world spun for a few seconds and I ended up in a ditch full of blackberry bushes by the side of the road, blood oozing from several nasty scratches on my arms and face. They didn't even stop to see how I was, and I limped on to work to get plastered-up and put in a full shift (we weren't snowflakes in those days, although my Dad would probably disagree) I limped back home later that evening to fix my bent front wheel, lick my wounds and feel sorry for myself. I threw the cassette-tape into the back of a drawer and I never set eyes on that girl again, but as fate would have it, like this song, she's scorched into my memory because of the powerful sensory associations I experienced in those moments. I can't help being reminded of that event every-time "eye of the tiger" pops up on the radio or on the TV. These days I sometimes forget why I'm in a particular room but remember that moment as clear as a bell, such is the interconnected nature of memory.

Friday smirk

Patience, patience..

Thursday, October 12, 2017


Looks like it's started already..

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The inevitable clash

J&M bang on the money as usual. It seems to be a fundamental property of intransigent unfalsifiable beliefs that they eventually clash with cultural evolution and tolerance. The problem is that because reason isn't used to arrive at them, reason and evidence can't easily be used to dismiss them! It's usually violence, marginalisation or sheer weight of numbers that does it in the end.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Hubble trouble..

Stop sniggering at the back!

Monday, October 09, 2017

Not alot

I always thought that this whole "God" idea was much ado about nothing..