Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Funky squid

We all know that squid can change the colour of their skin right?

Well, what do you think would happen if you hooked up a squid to an iPod (electrically) and then played some happening beats directly into one of its fins? ... take a look at this video!

Wow! now if only we could get some squid DNA sequences into the puny skin colouration sections of our own DNA and hey presto, disco heaven!

Friday, August 17, 2012

I predict a riot

In the "new" Russia these days if you dance and sing in a church you may find yourself with two years in jail for your troubles; of course I'm sure it depends what you sing about, grovelling to non-existent men in the sky or real men in the Kremlin would be just fine, but any kind of criticism of the establishment, religious or political would appear verboten - sounds a lot like the "old" Russia to me. After the furore over the St. Paul's protest camp I bet there are plenty of Churches here in England that would love roving punk bands to visit and perform protest songs, in fact they'd probably be thrilled to have anyone visit, whether they moaned about David Cameron or not..

Another place struck off my must-visit list..

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dweeb or Dork?

Ever wondered what kind of modern, technologically savvy person you are? Apparently "geek" is something to aspire to...

Monday, August 13, 2012

Last one out, turn off the lights

Well the Olympics are over, what the heck will we do with all that spare TV time now?

We watched the closing ceremony last night which compared to the opening ceremony scored a "B minus" in my estimation.

The highlights for me were:

- Imagine (great song, nice idea)
- Wish you were here (love Floyd, but why no Led Zep or Stones?)
- Homage to "The Life of Brian" - who'd have thought 30+ years later such a controversial film would be celebrated like this..

The lowlights were:

- Jacques Rogge (will that sour bugger ever smile?)
- George Michael doing his current single
- Spice girls (enough said)
- Harry Windsor (for someone with only a short cab ride home he didn't look that bothered..)
- I wasn't there!

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Mohawk hair science

Climate denial vs. real science..

The guy on the left is your typical old school GOP "vested interest" kind of US Senator (James Inhofe from Oklahoma) gun toting and god fearing no doubt. He's a climate change denier which, because of the utterly dire way in which bad science is given a disproportionally high profile in our mainstream media he seems to get away with. Inhofe was elected despite the overwhelming evidence for global warming which make his pathetic assertions on this subject about as credible as the "stork theory" of reproduction. Unfortunately for our species, Human beings generally prefer believing in things that they'd like to be true rather than things that are actually true, and while that behavioural attribute remains people like Inhofe continue to exploit them by claiming that "God says Global warming is a hoax" whilst behind the scenes receives millions of dollars in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry.

The guy on the right (Bobak Ferdowsi) is a real scientist and works for NASA and has seemingly caused more of a stir in the media than the fact that human-kind has been able to land a one ton beach buggy on the surface of a planet 250 million miles away from Earth. It's indicative of the way science is discussed in the media these days that Bobak is such a hit, with a budget running to billions of dollars it's as obvious as an ice core up your end-times that NASA would be scientifically advanced enough to produce a "hot geek", it's not rocket science.... oh wait....

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Last words..

te he..

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Daily Mail moment

I know, I know, even in my own head I sound like my Dad...

Parallel universes

There's a lot of talk these days about the possibility of there being more than one universe and that the one we all live in is but an infinitesimal shard of insignificance among an infinite number of sibling structures all with their own sets of physical laws and attributes. It's a fascinating idea, admittedly there's not much concrete evidence for it yet but  from the maths involved the concept "shows promise" as they say.

For me though it seems quite obvious that on some human level we all inhabit different mental "universes". Religious people for example inhabit varyingly different universes to me and it seems like the more fundamentalist the viewpoint the further the distance and character between us. Nothing brings these differences into focus more than the ongoing battle between science and religion; take the recent technological triumph of the Mars curiosity rover, science blogger Flaye Flam received a letter from a reader of her blog complaining about the "wasted" money and effort involved in looking for non-terrestrial life when everyone apparently "just knows" that the Christian God created everything in a puff of dust in the garden of Eden 6000 years ago (I'm sure you can imagine the kind of thing). Clearly this person inhabits a different universe from the rest of us and I thought her response to him was really good (and polite!), I've reproduced it here to illustrate what I mean...

Hello. I’d like you to know your letter reached our universe with success. I’ve been particularly conscious of parallel universes in the last week since I started reading “Why the World Exists” by Jim Holt. This book blends physics and philosophy to explore the question of existence. There’s much discussion of parallel universes in which the constants of nature and perhaps the very laws are different from ours.

Do you have philosophy in your universe? Is your universe apparently expanding? Ours is accelerating. Isn’t that the weirdest thing? And we've just confirmed that our space is pervaded by a Higgs field which gives elementary particles mass. What kinds of particles do you have in your corner of the mutliverse?

I’m intrigued that in your universe evolution is “junk science”. That’s mind-bending for us here on Earth because natural selection is such an elegant process, it’s hard to conceive of a universe in which life would emerge and not be subject to it. How does it work out your way?

Your universe seems to have quite the negative attitude toward space exploration. Where does that come from? Do you have other planets in your solar system? Do you have solar systems? You must at least have Google translate, since you message reached me in English, though I think you might have a few glitches. Anyway, nice to hear from you. Keep in touch.

Monday, August 06, 2012


Unbelievable feat of science and engineering (of all kinds) - can't wait to see what they find.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Ancient wisdom

"Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.’"

Marcus Aurelius 121-180 A.D.

(Common sense hasn't changed much in the last 2000 years)


Next time you come across a religious article or blog post that you feel is in need of translating into something more rational you could always run it through this little auto-correction filter and hey presto all those horribly ambiguous or meaningless words get switched to something much more realistic.

(Stolen without any moral qualms from the excellent Crispian Jago - if you want to see the opposite filter then follow the link and check it out on his site)

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Jeremy, Jeremy

It looks like people are getting their knickers in a twist about comments made by Jeremy Paxman about the stupidity of literally believing the Old Testament. During a recent interview with Richard Dawkins Paxman clearly tried to bait Dawkins by offering him the chance to agree with the comment that people who believed in a literal OT "hogwash" were "stupid" - it's not clear if this is Paxmans' own view but to any sane observer it was obvious that he was using such comments as a device to illicit a strong response and make the interview more lively, as he always does. Following continued complaints by "Christians" (unnamed) the BBC Trust editorial standards committee has now ruled that Paxman "went too far". It's not clear to me why stating the bleeding obvious or even an uncontroversial personal opinion on this topic would be deemed "too far". This is a very odd ruling, what's the point of a current affairs program that specialises in robust cross-examination of guests if no one risks offence? Should we respect stupid opinions and tip-toe around them?

If the complainants who are accused of holding such "stupid opinions" would like to step out from behind their shield of tradition and unconditional respect and actually present a case for why believing the Earth is only 6000 years old and that we are all descended from a bloke called Noah who had a knack for building boats, isn't stupid, I'm sure Paxman would have a field-day..