If both Special and General Relativity didn’t work precisely as Einstein said it did, GPS would be far less accurate than it actually is. Like, way off, meaning those auto-drive cars wouldn’t even get to the right road. Or any road. And we’d all be lost. Let me explain. GPS works by very precise distance … More How GPS finds you and lets Google send you adverts
It started raining so hard the other week that animals began lining up two-by-two to board a boat owned by my neighbours. I am only being slightly hyperbolic with that statement. Topsy-turvy weather seems to be the name of the game at the moment, not just in my neighbourhood but right around the world as … More Climate change is humanity’s biggest own goal ever
These days synthesisers are amazing instruments, often using technologies derived from computing – or existing only as software with the only hardware being a separate keyboard controller. That wasn’t always so. The commercial synths of the 1960s were built around analog hardware that played just one note at a time, like a wind instrument. By … More When was the first fully polyphonic synthesiser released?
Human reality is a funny thing. Society, as a whole, behaves differently from individuals – yet is made up of them. Understanding people, individually and en masse, is the raison d’etre of the social sciences. And it strikes me that conceptual realities of human nature often emerge in front of our noses, often in microcosm. I … More Learning the dark truth of the human condition
There was, I suppose, a universal sigh of relief when New Year 2017 ticked over and the world left the Year from Hell. We do like our arbitrary calendar dates. Reality, of course, seldom conforms to calendar dates. After all, Lemmy Kilmister kicked off the 2016 celebrity die-off just after Christmas 2015. A friend of mine suggested … More Reality isn’t just defined by calendar dates. Unfortunately.
I’m intrigued by how quickly we get used to music and sounds. Just about every track we listen to these days has electronically-generated content, and even the analog elements are usually processed. Thanks to digital signal processing and software originally developed for the oil industry, singers can even fix pitch and timing. But that wasn’t … More Why nobody notices synthesisers any more
One of the coolest things about history, for me, is the way the shapes and patterns of the past emerge full-blown before you, if you know where to look. Take clothes. What people wore tells us an awful lot about the society of the time. Take stockings, which were the height of gentlemen’s attire right … More Henry VIII and his calf-muscle bulging contests
One of the ways that George Orwell exposed the reality of authoritarian dictatorship in his novel 1984 was through the way his Big Brother authorities twisted the truth. They didn’t just lie in blatantly transparent ways – they demanded that their ‘alternative facts’ be taken as gospel, irrespective of any evidence to the contrary. If … More Orwell’s ‘1984’ and the alternative truth
Every so often we’re told that a rogue star or planet known as Niblick or Niburu, or some similar gibberish, is about to cause the apocalypse. Earth’s going to be whacked in 1984, 1987, 1999, 2012, 2018, apparently, with all the effect of a nine-iron on a golf ball, and NASA are hiding the truth … More Earth’s comet apocalypse at the hands of Gliese 710
OK so I saw Rogue 1. To me it was one of the best Star Wars movies ever made, up there with The Empire Strikes Back. In the specific, it was a sci-fi war movie – pure and simple. And it showed what usually happens in war – where people usually end up dead. It … More Star Wars without the Force – reviewing Rogue 1