There was speculation the other week to the effect that smart people live longer – the genes for ‘smart’ and the genes for ‘long life’ apparently being the same. Once upon a time this would have merely meant that geeks got to spend longer being picked on by bullies. But, of course, one of the big… More So it seems smart people live longer. What does that mean?
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
A few years ago my wife and I took the ultra high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris. It tore through the Netherlands and Belgium at what to our New Zealand eyes seemed a sharp pace. Then it got to France, at which point the driver opened the throttle. Pow! Suddenly we were rattling along at over… More How things happen faster than you sometimes notice
The pointless slaughter of Cecil the lion saddens but doesn’t surprise me. Humanity is fast becoming the scourge of this planet. I’m aware African farmers have issues with predation – and that the fees charged to allow ‘mighty hunters’ on to their lands are a much-needed boost to their incomes. But the natural world is irreplaceable.… More Cecil the lion’s death highlights the fact that humanity is the scourge of a fragile Earth
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
I was asked the other week, on Facebook, why Jupiter doesn’t just fly off into space. You know, it’s so enormous, surely the Sun can’t hold it. Actually, it can. Jupiter is around 300 times the mass of Earth, sure – but it’s only 0.09 percent the mass of the Sun. Not only can the Sun… More The Sun’s big. Really big. And really grippy.
The other day I threw a crumpled bag into a bin and almost missed. It hung on the edge for a while. Quite suddenly it began collapsing into the bin, flexing as it did so. In a strict sense this was all understandable; I’d crushed the bag, meaning the energy of my fingers was stored… More Do humans see patterns where there aren’t any? Let’s talk…