Monday, 21 May 2018

Tides will get bigger over the next 10 million years

This week's New Scientist has an article "Tides will rise for the next million years" and I was moved to write another science-oriented limerick.

The Altantic's three thousand miles wide
And America westward will slide
And I have to divulge
That the size of the bulge
Will result in a much higher tide.

Several very different things are involved.

The science of continental drift tells us that the North Atlantic is getting wider by just over a centimetre a year.
The tides are caused as a result of the gravitational pull of the moon. This means that the part of the sea nearest to the moon is attracted by the moon to form a bulge. One the other side of the Earth the Earth is pulled away from sea, creating a matching bulge.

Because the Earth rotates the bulges move round the world once a day, causing the tides. This bulge can be considered to be a wave moving across the Atlantic and it has a particular wave length.

Resonance then comes into play - rather like a huge musical instrument whene the there is a relationship between the wavelength of the note and the length of the string or pipe generating the sound. The tidle bulge has a wave length and the size of the tides (equivalent to the loudness of the note) depends on the size of the boxslowly gets wider tha amplicifcation of the tides due to resonance will get bigger. However when the Atlantic gets even wider the resonance will decrease and the height of the tide will fall.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Is there a significant difference between the way human and animal brains work?

The following essay was written as a follow up to an article by Micheal Marshall quoted in the Futurelearn Course "Introducing Humanism"
"Ultimately, the human brain is capable of some remarkable achievements; it is also capable of a quite remarkable level of self deception. By questioning even the facts we want to be true, by striving to look for the bigger picture, and by making use of methods like tests and trials to remove as much of our bias and motivated reasoning as we can, we can find out what’s really going on. "
Michael Marshall
So let us question a deeply held belief and see where the questioning leads.
Surely everyone knows that we are more intelligent than animals. Universities all round the world have scientists studying different aspects of the human brain with more and more powerful tools to try and find out what it is - perhaps a very unusual gene - which is the source of our great intelligence. Even Michael Marshall seems to support the idea that there is something special when he says that "the human brain is capable of some remarkable achievements."

Monday, 9 April 2018

Bats, Insects and Climate Change

Say thanks to the small free-tailed bat
Who consumes both the earworm and gnat
But the climate is warming
Too soon they are swarming
And the crops in the fields will fall flat
The Scientific American has an article "Bats are migrating earlier, and it could wreck havoc on Farming" which relates to the way climate change is affecting the Mexican free-tailed bats that migrate to Bracken Cave, Texas, in vast numbers, and which eat many of the insects which are agricultural pests.
Bats are not so significant in the UK, and an article in a Devon newspaper, The Moorlander, this week, reminds me that my interest in bats dating back about 60 years. The Devon Greater Horseshoe Project is conducting a survey this summer using bat detectors to count bats as they hunt for insects. About 60 years ago I spent time actively recording and ringing hibernating Greater Horseshoe Bats in Devon - for the pioneer bat ringer, John Hooper, One of my activities involved checking some of the smaller caves and mines in the area between Buckfastleigh and Chudleigh. While I no longer live in Devon, I do visit occasionally and will be most interested to see the results of the survey.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Man's contribution to life on the planet???

In the past, coming from the abyss.
There emerged, on four legs, a small fish.
Then came ape, and then man,
Plastic pot, and tin can,
And then piles, and more piles of rubbish.

See also
Plastic patch in Pacific Ocean growing rapidly, study shows
  • 22 March 2018
Discarded fishing net in the PacificImage copyright The Ocean Cleanup
Image caption Discarded fishing nets were part of the haul
A collection of plastic afloat in the Pacific Ocean is growing rapidly, according to a new scientific estimate.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Captured by the Camera

A Winter View at College Lake, near Tring
Things have not gone as planned over the last few months and my top priority is to keep fit and relax - and what better place to do so than College Lake - and this year I will try and include some more relaxing "Captured by the Camera" shots - and forget about the horrors of Brexit and Trump.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

A Merry Christmas to all

Picture from "If Santa used the Computer" 
Follow my example and have a relaxing Christmas and New Year Break - with not too much time on the computer - and hopefully we will all come back to the fray refreshed in 2018

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Censoring Climate Change

Having worked on early climate change publications when I was in Australia I have tried to keep up with developments ever since and been very impressed with the amount of excellent research origination in the United States.
There is no doubt that humanity is "trapped" on this planet and the changes we are making will have serious consequences on future generations. As such I find the recent article, Censoring Climate Change,  in New York Times about how the Trump administration is trying to bury the results of climate change research very disturbing.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Alice in the Cuckoo's Nest

Photo copyright
"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."
The Librarian Theatre is currently touring the UK from November with a play Alice in the Cuckoo's Nest which imagines the original story in the settings of a mental institution. "We're no shying away from the darker sides of the subject matter, but nor will ther ebe overly explicit content which would exclude younger audience members."
One has only to look at today's news about the domestic political crisis surrounding Brexit, the troubles in the Middle East, and the acres of poppies being prepared for Remembrance Day to feel that we all live in a mad world. In fact humans are pretty resilient and survive most of life's pitfall - although most of us get depressed on occasions, and a lot are badly affected in one way or another at some point in our life.

However the real problem is that those who are troubled with the most extreme forms of mental illness are not understood and are often shunned - which only makes their problems worse. As a result I welcome plays such as the above because they can help people understand what is happening and support those who need support and friendship in their times of difficulty.
In fact plays that treat mental health issues in a responsible manner are always welcome. When my daughter Lucy killed herself we were delighted to be able to work with small theatre group. The idea for the play Out of Sight came from when David Kester read an article Welcome to the Muppet House by Nick Davies in The Observer, about C1, the psychiatric wing of Holloway Prison. They researched the events relating to Lucy's time on remand in Holloway and the play illustrated why it was wrong to lock people up because they were mentally ill. It showed with a great deal of humour, the strength of, and need for human contact. We were particularly delighted that, in addition to the stage performance, the group also visited an number of schools and preformed to groups of six former pupils, followed by a discussion on the mental health issues raised.

[The stressful effects of Lucy'e illness, inappropriate imprisonment, and death had a serious effect om the family  Post traumatic stress disorder was one of the reasons why I abandoned the research into CODIL (seee other posts on this blog) and lead me to spend over 20 years doing mental health charity work at both the local and national level. There are also tragic links between Lucy's arrest and what happened after her sister Belinda was inappropriately arrested in the same police station some fifteen years later.]