Of the sense of wonder that casts light into the darkness

This post begins on a personal note. My Mum passed away, suddenly, last week. Mum got me writing, encouraged me to write – and was an avid reader of what I wrote. Including this blog, where her favourites were my science posts. Mum taught me to wonder about everything – about the way our curiosity fuels our… More Of the sense of wonder that casts light into the darkness

Why the new ‘Earth 2.0’ is more likely to be Venus 1.1

This week the SETI institute announced they were going to check the newly discovered Earth-size world 1400 light years away, Kepler 452b, for radio transmissions. I don’t think they’ll find any. Here’s why. The problem is that near-Earth size, insolation and orbit – which is all we know just now – doesn’t necessarily mean Earth-like. The planet was… More Why the new ‘Earth 2.0’ is more likely to be Venus 1.1

Why history is really a ‘today’ thing

I’m always intrigued by the way people generally view history. To some  it’s a dead past, uninteresting. Others look on it as a trainspotting exercise in data-collection. Academics, on my experience, use the subject as a device for validating self-worth. Henry Ford, reputedly, insisted history was ‘bunk’. In a way he was right, because we… More Why history is really a ‘today’ thing

Heralding the decline and fall of the west, apparently

The other day I found a tweet by Stephen Fry linking to a Texan college video in which students working to become lawyers, psychologists, and so on, didn’t know who’d won the US Civil War. Or who their Vice President was. Fry wondered if it was evidence of Spengler’s The Decline and Fall of the West. I’m not… More Heralding the decline and fall of the west, apparently

Pastoral folk or Wagnerian metal – which music best suits Tolkien?

In the last few posts I’ve been exploring the way J R R Tolkien subverted twentieth century literature, creating a whole new form of fantasy – and why The Lord Of The Rings in particular was such a runaway success. Today I’m wrapping the series up with a few thoughts on the way people reacted… More Pastoral folk or Wagnerian metal – which music best suits Tolkien?

Deep magic from the dawn of humanity: the real appeal of Tolkien

In the past few posts I’ve been explaining why Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings struck such chords with the western world, despite breaking all the rules of the twentieth century novel. We’ve seen how, on one level, it ‘broke through’ a decade after being published, on the back of the way the counter-culture identified with… More Deep magic from the dawn of humanity: the real appeal of Tolkien