Category Archives: Science

Trust me. I’m a trained scientist. I know what I’m talking about.

You are awesome

supermanCongratulations on making it here. You’re a survivor. Not only did you survive childbirth, childhood and however many years you’ve lived since (an achievement that sadly most humans in history didn’t manage), but so did your parents, your grand-parents, and all your ancestors back to some single-celled organism swimming through ancient seas. Continue reading

Science, philosophy, and the Mountain of Ignorance

mountainofignoranceThere’s been a lot of debate online recently (like here and here) about whether philosophy is a waste of time. Here’s my metaphor for thinking about this question.

Imagine that ignorance is represented by a mountain. The mountain is big and in plain view of everyone. Even small children can see it clearly, and love to ask questions about it that their parents can’t answer. You know the kinds of questions I mean. Continue reading

Precisely inaccurate

idontthinksoThe instructions on my packet of Waitrose beef state confidently, Fry for 24 – 26 minutes. Really?

Not 23 minutes? Not 25 minutes? But 24 – 26 minutes. How precisely irritating. Continue reading

One billion good reasons to be afraid

asteroids65 million years ago an enormous lump of rock – a comet or asteroid over a mile in diameter – crashed into the Earth at enormous speed – perhaps 200 times the speed of sound – leaving a crater 193 km wide and 48 km deep.

Think about that for a moment. Continue reading

The Book of Dawkins

dawkinsIn the beginning was the word and the word was Dawkins. Dawkins said let there be a book that explains evolutionary biology to the layperson. The book was called The Selfish Gene and Dawkins looked on it and saw that it was good. Continue reading

The age of the Earth

earthPlanet Earth is 4.54 billion years old, but how do we know that? Continue reading

Ingredients for a miracle

embryo

  • 35kg water
  • 16kg carbon
  • 12kg oxygen
  • 3kg hydrogen
  • 1kg each of nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus
  • A sprinkle of potassium, sulphur and sodium
  • About a dozen trace elements Continue reading

Free will? It’s a no brainer

nobrainerImagine that you cannot see or hear and have no sense of smell, taste or touch. Imagine that you have no arms or legs or mouth. Imagine that you have no brain. How would you find food? How would you survive?

On his blog, Matt Russell tells the story of how bacteria manage to survive and thrive despite not having any of the basic tools that we would consider essential for living. It’s a story of survival against the odds that can perhaps teach us something about ourselves. Continue reading

I doubt that very much

gadandadamReligion. It’s a strange business. On other matters we are asked, are we for or against? But when it comes to God, we must answer, do we believe or not? How peculiar.

You might have thought that God would give us free will to choose Him or not. Instead He neglected to tell us clearly whether He even exists. It’s pure negligence. A shocking abdication of divine responsibility. Continue reading

The GMO debate and the lightning conductor

stopgmoGenetically modified crops generate intense anger on both sides of the debate.

Those who oppose it, such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, cite the risk of some kind of unpredictable disastrous effect on Nature.

Those who argue in its favour point out that millions of children could be cured of blindness if genetically-modified rice were used to feed people in the third world. In fact, vitamin A-enhanced rice could prevent up to a third of the world’s child deaths. And that’s just one example of the benefits.

The stakes couldn’t really be higher on either side of the debate. It’s imperative that the world makes the right decision about this issue.

So here, I’m asking, “How do we make the decision?” Continue reading