Big Science

This piece (with AMAZING photos) of the large Hadron collider is for all the fans of big science out there. When writing on such subjects last year Wired magazine deliberately miss-spelt "Hadron" by swapping the r and the d to underline a certain obsession with size amongst readers, if not, perhaps, amongst scientists. Link. My favourite comment in the piece is "This thing is going to kill us all".


Now I thought I ran a specialist business. But no, these people run a specialist business. Hopkins Invertebrate Surveys. My old friend Jonanthan Thacker, PhD, BSc, environmental scientist, works with this firm to do clever things that involve surveying invertebrates, I guess... truth is, although we were great school friends our businesses could not, really, be more different. But when someone asks me if I know anyone who is really, really clever Jit (as we used to call him) pops into my mind.

Clarkson under fire

This Herald piece caught my eye because I have recently read a couple of Clarkson books. While Clarkson is certainly a cantankerous middle-aged man with no fashion sense and a deliberately boisterous approach to things he dislikes he is not an environmental nincompoop as alleged. While he may be guilty of perpetuating 'the worst stereotypes' about environmentalists that's only possible because he has help - from a good many environmentalists.

Clarkson, you see, knows a thing or two about cars. When you slap a greenpeace sticker on the back of a badly tuned housebus and run it on (yes unleaded, but still horribly dirty) 91 octane fuel in New Zealand and then go on to criticise him - well, you'd justifiably be in for a dressing down. A truly great article, for instance, he wrote advocating the importance and widespread use of catalytic converters - one of the easiest ways to reduce your emissions. Waste comes not only in the form of stuff that comes out of the exhaust - but also in the form of human lives lost from awful cars. While obviously not a safety fusspot Clarkson does like genuine advances in this area: ABS brake, pre-tensioning seatbelts, and a roof that doesn't fold like a deck of cards.

Advanced safety features and cleaner exhausts are not features of the ancient car fleet we once had, which the author of this article seemed to consider a sort of unfairly-criticised virtue. But hey, anyone who wants their Austin Allegro back, can surely have it. These days they can be found being disposed of in the most environmentally sound manner by their current drivers. They now often have helpful yellow stickers on the back windscreen applied by those car-marketers-of-last-resort (the Police) abandoned by the side of the road.