Book Review: The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins

And finally I have got around to reading Dawkins’ best-known and seminal work of popular science. Even now, nearly forty years after it’s initial publication (I read the 30th anniversary edition) it is still a heated subject of discussion in academic and popular science circles, the ideas it presents are considered ground-breaking, presenting one aspect of Darwinian evolution that is sometimes perhaps a tricky subject.
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Book Review: Paranormality by Richard Wiseman

There are many books on the paranormal, horoscopes, mediums, NDEs, OBEs, haunted houses and other such areas that make us think that there is something going on in the world that science cannot explain. On the other side there are many citing scientific evidence that it is, really, just a load of old rubbish (which most of my readers will know is my view).

Most of us, though fairly rational most of the time, will have some element of the metaphysical to which we cling. It might be religion or belief in ghosts or overpriced apparent magic water that we use instead of conventional medicine. For most, it is the idea that the alignment of balls of rock and gas hundreds of light years away from this tiny planet somehow dictates our character or what sort of day we are going to have. Continue reading


Long and very thoughtful post from Rosie Oliver on the relationship between science and sci fi. Go take a look at her blog!

Originally posted on Rosie Oliver:

faster than light..

faster than light.. (Photo credit: vishwaant)

Every so often there is a discussion about the relationship between science and science fiction. One is going on right now thanks to the Tomorrow Project and ARC magazine. So let me throw in a few random thoughts on the matter…

The relationship between science and science fiction is complex.

At the simplest level science fiction can supply a wish list for scientists to focus their efforts of invention. Even if scientists think the ultimate wish is impossible, that will not stop them going some way towards it. Take Star Trek’s tractor beam, the kind that pulls objects towards the USS Enterprise as an instance. It was thought impossible until someone showed that they could go a little way towards it by using the ricochet mechanism of laser beams. Of course if we can control artificial gravity, then the tractor beam becomes even more…

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Book Review: The Britannica Guide to Climate Change

Undeservedly, climate change is a political hot topic. Regular readers will know my views on this subject already. On my other blog 2012 And All That, I regularly post articles on denialist misinformation and also re-post articles from the likes of the superb bloggers at Skeptical Science and Watching The Deniers.

This is only the second book on the subject that I have reviewed. I feel I have read enough about the subject now that I probably shouldn’t have read this in such a linear fashion. For me, this would have worked best as a reference book, something to dip into from time to time or to hop around reading only the subjects that I feel needing clarifying in my mind. No wonder then, that it took me so long to get through it (I started it before Christmas). Continue reading

Book Review: How to Fossilise Your Hamster (New Scientist)

This, the third in the collection of New Scientist books, focuses not so much on responding to letters sent into the magazine of those odd scientific queries and compiling them into a volume with comprehensive answers, but on the more practical aspects of what you can learn for yourself. It is a book of experiments based on queries they magazine has received.

The experiments are of course straightforward and encourage you to recreate every day phenomena. Because of this, it is not so much a book to read cover to cover but one to dip into from time to time in case they are able to answer a particular query. One for the shelf then. Continue reading

Arc 1.2 Review

The theme of this, the second volume of the Arcfinity ezine, is about the future of humanity, subtitled Post human conditions. Intriguing concept to deal with how humans will change in relation to technological advances of the future. I mentioned in my “first impressions” post that I had not heard of most of the contributors so this was a whole new ball game for me.

This volume is just as slick and professionally made. The only difference from volume 1.1 is that it has more images. It also has far more links which, if like me you have the basic Kindle, you will not be able to follow. This is unfortunate and will give a better experience if you have a tablet such as an ipad. For a magazine dedicated to Futurism, it is a shame that these things were not taken into account.

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Book Review: The Incredible Human Journey by Dr Alice Roberts

You can’t help but like Dr Alice Roberts. Though best known as a co-presenter on the BBC series Coast, she has been involved in a number of other TV projects of which this was the most noteworthy. We appreciate her for the passion for her subject, her infectious smile and childlike excitement as well as a reluctant sex symbol for men who like nerdy, intelligent women with an inner child for anthropology. It must be noted that she is no mere eye candy or real life Dana Scully, but an accomplished academic, a qualified Medical Doctor and much respected contributor to engaging the public in science.

The book is written atypically for a popular science book, like a travelogue. Roberts wants us to take an interest in the people, the places and the journey she takes before she imparts her knowledge of genetics and human migration. Because of this the prose is colourful and engaging. The only other book I can think of written in this style is Jared Diamond’s Collapse: Why Complex Societies Choose to Fail or Survive. It worked well for that book too.

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The Hay Festival 2012

The biggest literature festival in the UK is next week… The Hay Festival is an enormous event that takes place every year covering not just literature but also politics, history science, music, classics, food, film and world events amongst other things. I’m not actually going (though I would like to be part of the festival another year) but as shameless filler while I’m away, I thought I would like to list what for me are the highlights of this year’s event. Continue reading

A Call for Open Access

It is a debate that has been raging for sometime now; I have even covered the issue in a roundabout sort of a way on this blog and 2012 and all that: the issue of public access to scientific research. Currently, access to journals are prohibitively expensive for common folk and for me as a graduate with a Master’s Degree who would dearly love to keep up with current research in my field, or even to impart some of it in my writing (fiction or otherwise). I truly miss being at University and try to get hold of free access papers where I can on subjects that are of interest to me or that I might want to write about. Those of you who read my other blog will witness that I’ve linked to many freely-available papers. Continue reading

Book Review: Why Does E=mc2? by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw

Professor Brian Cox, most known for his television series Wonders of the Solar System, followed a year later by Wonders of the Universe as well as popular radio science discussion programme The Infinite Monkey Cage, has become one of the country’s most recognised and popular scientific figures in a field not normally known for being sexy and “down with the kids”. In that respect, to many people Cox must seem like an enigma – a young and trendy guy who started public life in the band D:Ream (known for Things can only get better) and now inspiring young people to take up the hard sciences again and creating an interest in Astronomy not seen since Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. I went to the Basingstoke show of Uncaged Monkeys last year (the stage version of the radio show) and was pleased to see it was a sell out. Ben Goldacre, Stephen Jones and Simon Singh were also on the guest list. Science is getting big again and it is getting trendy too.
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