As a teenager I remember being wowed by Larry Niven’s ‘known space’ stories, including his Ringworld novels. Looking back, though, I’m not so sure about his aliens. He had two main ones – the Puppeteers and the Kzin. At the time they were pretty cool. Up until the mid-1960s, most (good) aliens basically looked human,… More I figure that Larry Niven’s aliens weren’t alien enough
It’s intriguing how we always talk about stuff like radio, microwaves, light, x-rays and the rest – as if all these were different things. Well guess what – they’re not. They’re all exactly the same thing. Electromagnetic energy. That’s it, really. Well, there are differences – as we’ll see in this post. But in terms… More Explaining the electromagnetic spectrum in less than 550 words
I saw a documentary the other day about Project Orion – which to me underscored just how much times have changed since the 1960s. Owing to a severe attack of geekiness, I already knew quite a bit about the idea, but this added interviews with project scientists such as Freeman Dyson. What was it? On… More Surfing the nuclear blast wave – with science!
I like Trek ‘the original series’ way better than Star Wars ‘Part IV’ because Trek gave us Spock. That’s it, really. But let me explain some more. When Lucas developed Star Wars (by which I mean the original 1977 movie) he deliberately wrote a story that spoke to our deepest senses of mythic self –for… More I like Trek ‘the original series’ way better than Star Wars ‘Part IV’ because…
How fast is time? If you’re trapped in the office or enduring a maths class or something dull you’d no doubt tell me it drips past. Just as you’d also tell me it moves damn fast if you’re enjoying the latest Star Wars movie. But that’s personal perception of time. To physicists, no matter how… More Einstein’s cool way to make time go slower
Every so often I see an advertisement on TV for some product or other – usually toothpaste – that’s being demoed in a ‘science lab’. All these labs are the same: sparsely furnished, clean, white, sparkling benches; brilliant lighting; lots of Perspex; bits of immaculate lab gear and high-tech flat-screens with glamorous white-coated supplicants wandering… More What a real science lab actually looks like
It occurred to me the other day that one dandy way to clean a microwave oven is to chuck a cake of soap into it and blast it on ‘high’ for a few minutes. It was a better idea than my previous microwave-inspired trick which involved dismantling the rotating platter and using egg whites and… More Why I don’t do fun science tricks with microwave ovens