Tag Archives: Science

Salt assault

We all know that salt in our diet contributes to stroke and coronary artery disease. What I didn’t realize until very recently was just how important it is. But a BBC Radio 4 interview with Graham MacGregor yesterday quickly fixed my misunderstanding. Continue reading

The end of the world is nigh

Lightning by vegglefrog (Creative Commons License CC BY 2.0)

Lightning by veggiefrog (Creative Commons License CC BY 2.0)

Don’t worry. This isn’t about Trump. I’ve returned to my first love – science fiction – with two new novels in the pipeline. The first is a conspiracy thriller set in the near future, the second an apocalyptic blockbuster set in the present day. Continue reading

Logic gates and neurons

At their most abstract level, the logic gates that make up a digital computer are machines for destroying information. That might not be immediately apparent, but take a look at this (image from Wikipedia):

AND symbol

Two inputs; one output. At every operation, one bit of information is lost forever in an irreversible process. Continue reading

Why do we feel sad?

Here I’m not asking what makes you sad. Rather I’m asking, what is the purpose of sadness? Generally speaking, there is an evolutionary reason for all the abilities and faculties that we humans possess. So what is the evolutionary advantage of sadness? Continue reading

The tragedy of the meme

memesIt was the geneticist, Richard Dawkins, in his book The Selfish Gene, who first proposed the idea of the meme. Dawkins defined the meme as a unit of cultural transmission, an idea, pattern or concept that could be passed from person to person, changing or evolving as it propagates, such that successful memes or their variants spread rapidly, and unpopular memes die out. Dawkins, a scientist and an atheist, no doubt had in mind the notion that scientific and rational memes would steadily gain acceptance, and that religious and superstitious memes, when exposed to the harsh light of analysis and debate would gradually fade away. What a tragedy then, that the memes that seem to spread like wildfire are trivial nonsense at best, or ignorant bigotry at worst. Continue reading

After sustainability – what then?

Climate change is a very real danger, but one that we are already well on the way to fixing. Without wanting to sound complacent, I think it’s a challenge that the current generation will solve. But what then? Do we simply want to avoid affecting the Earth’s climate, like environmentalists say? Or should we aspire to actively manage it? Continue reading

What is time?

Time is an oddity. In mystic thought, it is often cyclical. In classical Newtonian physics it was thought of as a steady march onward. In Einstein’s universe, it is wrapped up with the fabric of spacetime and can dilate in unexpected ways.

One thing we know about time is that it waits for no one. Time marches on (although not in a steady way, thanks to Einstein) and we experience it passively. Without any effort on our part, future becomes present and recedes into the past, even while we sleep. We can’t feel the passing of time like we feel the wind against our face, although change is happening imperceptibly, and after a lifetime, we realize that its passing has ravaged our fragile bodies.

Where did the time go, we ask? As if it is a thing that moves. Continue reading