Disappointing persons of the year 2021

I’m starting to think that in this day and age, you will but err when you pick individuals for traditionally ‘prestigious’ awards, prizes, recognitions, etc., probably because the sort of people who can stand out by themselves have to have had the sort of clout and power that typically comes not through personal achievement as…… Continue reading Disappointing persons of the year 2021

‘Real science’

From ‘The most influential climate science paper of all time’, The Conversation, October 8, 2021 (emphasis added): Manabe, working with various colleagues, went on to write many more seminal climate modelling papers. He set the foundation for today’s global climate modelling efforts. The physics was beguilingly simple so his models could run on these early…… Continue reading ‘Real science’

Woolly mammoths and a quasi-techbro

I wrote for The Wire Science about George Church’s idea to repopulate the Arctic tundra with woolly mammoths to, among other things, help maintain the permafrost. He isn’t the first person to think of this – that dubious distinction belongs to, and Church himself got it from, Sergey Zimov, whose ‘Pleistocene Park’ in northeast Russia…… Continue reading Woolly mammoths and a quasi-techbro

Is ground-based astronomy a space activity?

An article published on the European Southern Observatory blog on September 10 describes an effort to protect the night sky – a crucial resource for astronomy – by recasting astronomy as the dominant form of human space exploration and thus attempting to have its activities ‘protected’ by the Outer Space Treaty (OST) and other similar…… Continue reading Is ground-based astronomy a space activity?

Sci-fi past the science

There’s an interesting remark in the introductory portion of this article by Zeynep Tufekci (emphasis added): At its best, though, science fiction is a brilliant vehicle for exploring not the far future or the scientifically implausible but the interactions among science, technology and society. The what-if scenarios it poses can allow us to understand our own societies…… Continue reading Sci-fi past the science

Starlink and astronomy

SpaceX’s Starlink constellation is currently a network of 120+ satellites and which, in the next decade, will expand to 10,000+ to provide low-cost internet from space around the world. Astronomers everywhere have been pissed off with these instruments because they physically interfere with observations of the night sky, especially those undertaken by survey telescopes with…… Continue reading Starlink and astronomy

Playing the devil’s advocate on Starlink

After SpaceX began to launch its Starlink satellite constellation to facilitate global internet coverage, astronomers began complaining that the satellites are likely to interfere with stargazing schemes, especially those of large, sensitive telescopes. Spaceflight stakeholders also began to worry, especially after SpaceX’s announcement that the Starlink constellation is in fact the precursor to a mega-constellation…… Continue reading Playing the devil’s advocate on Starlink

Solutions looking for problems

There’s been a glut of ‘science projects’ that seem to be divorced from their non-technical aspects even when the latter are equally, if not more, important – or maybe it is just a case of these problems always having been around but this author not being able to unsee it these days. An example that…… Continue reading Solutions looking for problems

SpaceX rocket blows up but let’s remember that #SpaceIsHard

The Wire June 30, 2015 “… it’s not all or nothing. We must get to orbit eventually, and we will. It might take us one, two or three more tries, but we will. We will make it work.” Elon Musk said this in a now-famous interview to Wired in 2008 when questioned about what the…… Continue reading SpaceX rocket blows up but let’s remember that #SpaceIsHard

Desperate Toyota does a Tesla

Let go to take control. That’s what Elon Musk did with the patents on his Tesla brand of electric cars. That’s what Toyota has done now with its patents on fuel-cells, releasing 5,680 licenses for royalty-free use at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Tuesday. It said in a statement, “Toyota aims to go…… Continue reading Desperate Toyota does a Tesla