Author: admin

Open University plays fast and loose

I’M ASTONISHED to see that the Open University has suppressed a comment I left pointing out a basic error on one of its new YouTube videos. Universities are supposed to be about sharing knowledge, not suppressing it, and the OU of…

He walks, he talks, he flips the bird

I HAVE to share this picture, received today accompanying a press release sent to my laboratory news website LabHomepage. The story concerns a robot known as RoboThespian, made by a company called Engineered Arts, which is described as a ‘life-sized, programmable,…

Why that was no meteor shower

I was lucky enough to witness the strange fireball in the sky at about 11pm last night, Friday 21 September 2012. It was certainly a spectacular, and initially puzzling, sight – but I don’t think it can be called a…

The day I met Neil Armstrong

If you know only two things about Neil Armstrong, you will know that he was the first man to set foot on the moon, and that after his adventures in space he retreated to the quiet life of an engineering professor. What seems to…

I’ve been called worse

Having just filed my latest contribution to Laboratory News, I kicked back for half an hour to read the previous issue – which had been lurking on my desk for a couple of weeks. My monthly column is Lab Babble,…

Sustainability vs legacy at London 2012

I’ve spent enough time in committees and struggling against bureaucracy to really appreciate the recent BBC sitcom Twenty Twelve, a spoof fly-on-the-wall series which has been uncannily prescient about some of the issues around the real London 2012 Olympic Games.…

Celebrating fakery

The Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition, organised by the Royal Observatory Greenwich and Sky At Night magazine, has announced its results. Nearly 800 images, from shots of meteors streaking over the sky to deep-space images of nebulae, were submitted…

A free agent

Today, Friday 26 August 2011, is my last day as an employee of Centaur Media. A few weeks ago, the company announced wide-ranging redundancies and a major internal reorganisation. I fully expected my position as editor of Laboratorytalk to become…

Cat and mouse on Broadwater Farm, 1985

The riots and disturbances of the last few days in English cities had me casting my mind back to the 1985 Broadwater Farm riot, thinking of the similarities between the circumstances, and recalling my own slightly surreal experience of policing on…

Ripping into Rip Tide

I didn’t get it at first. Ploughing my way through Stella Rimington’s latest novel Rip Tide – an advance copy kindly sent by her publisher before my interview with the great Dame of spy fiction a couple of weeks ago…