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scientific developments, inventions, design, sci fi

Science versus junk science

An inventor comes out with a new idea – OK, we read about it, see it demonstrated, make up our minds.  But we’re wary when certain alarm bells go off and red flags go up.

1.  I.A. Richards, in Science and Poetry [1926] wrote:

We believe a scientist because he can substantiate his remarks, not because he is eloquent and forcable in his enunciation.  In fact we distrust him when he seems to be influencing us by his manner.



Golgafrincham Ark Fleet, Ship B

This blog author and many of its commenters have been accused, in the past, of being somewhat negative. You don’t say.


I’m sure we all wish the Morons for Mars all the very best in their one way trip to Mars. One way trip. Y-e-e-e-e-s-s-s-s. Run by reality TV people – what could possibly go wrong?

# It will fund the whole thing through sponsorship and a reality TV series – made by Endemol, the same people behind Big Brother, covering the preparations and mission on Mars.

# Some of the potential astronaut picks seem to be based on their televisual appeal rather than usefulness as likely colonists.

# The settlers will then inflate balloons to give themselves another 200 sq metres of living and cultivation space.

# Mars One calls its plans visionary, but most of the scientific and space community are less polite. The idea has been criticized for being underfunded, overambitious, and a suicide mission according to one study.


Lucus and Oscar 001

  • Did you hear the one about the guy that peeked into a Land Rover and asked the owner “How can you tell one switch from another at night? They all look the same. ” – “He replied, “It does not matter which one you use, nothing happens !”
  • The Lucas motto: “Get home before dark.”
  • Lucas is the patent holder for the short circuit.
  • Lucas – Inventor of the first intermittent wiper.
  • Lucas – Inventor of the self-dimming headlamp.
  • The three position Lucas switch – Dim, Flicker and Off.
  • The Original Anti-Theft Device – Lucas Electrics.
  • Lucas is an acronym for Loose Unsoldered Connections and Splices
  • If Lucas made guns, wars would not start.
  • Back in the 70’s, Lucas decided to diversify its product line and began manufacturing vacuum cleaners. It was the only product they offered which did not suck.

In fairness, they had a LOT of competition from Magneti Marelli.…

Das Boot

First, feast for sore eyes at The Tavern plus a plea for help from you techies out there:

I took over 280 snaps and a lot of video too. I have no idea how to ‘manage’ my own videos on the blog though.

Also, Cherie’s been doing some great work with HMS Warrior – another feast for the ideas. Think there is a hint in here somehow for me to get out and complete a certain craft.

And now to more immediate business. Sometimes, the curmudgeonly kindness of close colleagues brings a tear to the eye. Chuckles:

There you go James, the things we do for you. Stop this wimpish stuffing around with plywood and canvas, and get with the programme.

Those daring young [+wo]men …

Funny how we think of things around the same time. Here’s how this one went. Amfortas sent some lovely things on boats but also mentioned planes and airshows.

I’d been thinking – I like planes too:


… but know boats better, so you’re getting from me, currently, apoplectic politics, one post after another, things on the book, things on the boat, a few wimmin on bikes.…

Tale of two bits of tech


UC Irvine and Australian chemists have figured out how to unboil egg whites – an innovation that could dramatically reduce costs for cancer treatments, food production and other segments of the $160 billion global biotechnology industry, according to findings published today in the journal.

“Yes, we have invented a way to unboil a hen egg,” said Gregory Weiss, UCI professor of chemistry and  & biochemistry. “In our paper, we describe a device for pulling apart tangled proteins and allowing them to refold. We start with egg whites boiled for 20 minutes at 90 degrees Celsius and return a key  in the egg to working order.”

Like many researchers, he has struggled to efficiently produce or recycle valuable molecular proteins that have a wide range of applications but which frequently “misfold” into structurally incorrect shapes when they are formed, rendering them useless.

“It’s not so much that we’re interested in processing the ; that’s just demonstrating how powerful this process is,” Weiss said.

Suppressing the moral compass [1]

hopper hotel 1952

[Edward Hopper; Hotel by the Railroad, 1952]


Many of the best films, especially thrillers, start with some small anomaly in the middle of the dross of a typical day and go from there. Sherlock Holmes stories used that formula.

It’s often the small behaviour or act which goes relatively unnoticed by the wider public which hides the deep cancer that’s eaten out the body politic and the analogy holds up of the small mole on the skin which goes unnoticed and is actually a sign of the cancer.…