Inside science news

Men in Black

The former head of a secret US government programme set up to investigate UFO sightings has told the media that extraterrestrial life may exist - as some UFOs defy explanation. See for example www.space.com/39169-aliens-may-exist--pentagon-ufo-program-chief.html ... and www.space.com/39171-mysterious-ufo-sightings.html ... We may not be alone he said as a lot of strange aircraft (or flying objects) have displayed characteristics not currently within the US military (nor that of any other earth based society).

Dowsing is Bunkum

Oh dear. The mainstream thought vigilantes have been out in force after the parents of a precocious biology student witnessed a man from the water company using a dowsing rod to locate the water pipe in order to make a connection to their house. Wow. This went viral - on Twitter and on numerous blogs. Lots of people who had never heard of Sally Le Page now do - courtesy of a little piece of condescension by people who think they are superior to the little people (like the technicians that work for water utilities).

Autumn Meeting 2017

We have a great line up of speakers at the 2017 Autumn Meeting in Watford (venue is the Quaker Meeting House in Church Road, a short step from Watford Junction station). These include Bob Johnson on the Sun and electromagnetic activities, Rupert Holms on the second book in his trilogy (the star core), Adrian Gilbert on the Stone of Scone (the various legends and history associated with it), and finally, Robert Porter on his revision of chronology (and his favoured location for the Exodus).

Fake News

Fake News has been in the news in recent weeks as Trump has accused his critics in the media of not just telling porkies but of having a political agenda. In other words, Fake News is defined as news broadcast (and written) not to inform, as Joe Public might think news should be, but to educate the public towards a certain agenda. That agenda is of course opposed by Trump. In the UK we have a similar situation in our media, especially when it comes to the BBC. An example of this is at www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-40420910 ...

Thinking a lot of oneself

One of the more whacky papers published this year can be found at https://phys.org/print414236899.html ... and was published at Evolutionary Psychological Science. It doesn't start very well as it begins, ' more intelligent people tend to be atheistic ...' and this 'dates back to the Romans and ancient Greeks ...'. It goes on to say the link between intelligence and religion can be explained if religion is considered an instinct, and intelligence the ability to rise above one's instinct. The big assumption here is that religion is an instinct. Is it?

Juncker Science

An interesting read at https://risk-monger.com/2017/05/10/glypho-nicotinoids-and-junck-science-... ... from a man with a bee in his bonnet, and bee decline in his telescope. Not knowing much about the subject I can only advise that it is worth reading - right to the end. It does illustrate how science is often sidelined by lobbying from NGOs and other environmentalist groups. Are scientists becoming more like vicars rather than an authoritative body of educated people? Are they as easily sidelined as the sermon on a Sunday morning?

Cheese Rolling

The journal Mathematics Today also has an article on the mathematics of rolling a large round haunch of cheese down a hill - the annual pastime of cheese rolling (page 63). See www.ima.org.uk/5625/westward-ho-musings-mathematics-mechanics/ ... See also the official website for cheese rolling at Cooper's Hill in Gloucestershire, www.cheese-rolling.co.uk - but see also an article on the Painleve Paradox in the IMA journal 81:3, DOI:https://doi.org/10.1033/imamat/hxw027 - the mathematics of rolling a cheese down a hill.

Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan didn't always get an enthusiastic hearing in Velikovskian circles as he was prepared to publicly criticise some of his ideas. However, he didn't dismiss them in a pompous manner, or one of contempt. Neither was he particularly the bogey man he was depicted by some people.

Creation Science

Creation Science has a bright future according to Dr Wile - go to http://blog.drwile.com?p=15572 ... and the link concerns a recent panel event where a team of creation scientists took questions from a large audience, said to include scientists with some probing questions. One of his fellow panellists was John Sanford, a geneticist, the inventor of the 'gene gun' (a device to introduce DNA from one organism into another organism).

Sex and Plants

I suppose this should come under biology but it is also interesting in the way science works and how it is influenced by cultural bias. Apparently the claim is that sex in plants was ignored by whoever the great and the good might have been in the period from the Palaeolithic to the 19th century AD. What they are talking about is plant breeding. Do they claim improvements, in shall we say sweetcorn, were due to chance rather than purposeful human activity.The story is at https://phys.org/print404050546.html ...