Friday, 23 September 2011

Amendment to the speed limit

Have elementary particles actually been observed travelling faster than light?  This is impossible, right.  Nothing's established as yet, but if true, it would be a remarkable discovery, that I'm sure is prompting loads of fanciful explanations.

Could a more prosaic explanation just be that the speed-of-light limit still holds, but we just got the speed wrong?  The fundamental limit is to the speed of light in a vacuum.  This has been measured extremely accurately.

But, we know space is not a vacuum.  Maybe we've been actually measuring the speed of light in a vacuum energy field instead, and the neutrinos measure by CERN are actually travelling closer to the true "speed of light in a vacuum".

Of course, there are other tests of the value of "c", such as the equivalence of mass and energy, but there appears to be some wriggle room in the experimental tests of this.

PS: This is almost definitely complete nonsense, probably for various reasons, but for a start the neutrino measurements for SN1987A would have to be bogus.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

"Sorry" for decades of manipulation, corruption and depravity

So, Mr Murdoch says sorry.  Well that's alright then, lets just forget it all shall we?

That's what some Murdoch apologists heard on a BBC Radio 5 Live phone in on Friday night (15th July 2011) were saying. Personally, although I have never been a fan of Mr Murdoch or subscribed to any of his various organs (e.g. Articulated Morrey 11 Sept 2000),  I am still amazed at the depths of depravity they were capable of sinking to.

If those at the top of the organisation knew about this, then the book should be thrown at them.  If they didn't, then they were negligent, and according to the "Ripa" act the book should still be thrown at them.  What are the chances...?

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

New New-Labour

I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed the Labour leadership husting on Newsnight last night.  I'm reminded again what a strong team Labour has, at least compared the retreads and odd-balls the Conservatives cobbled into a cabinet.

What a shame that Labour allowed the the election to focus so much on the leader, leaving all this talent hiding in the background.  There are several other credible candidates who are not even in the race, including Alan Johnson, Ivette Cooper, Hilary Benn, and the only-slightly-tainted Peter Hain.

The Labour leadership is still an open race, but I think David Milliband consolidated his position as favourite a little.  He showed an astute political brain, especially in taking the opportunity to attack the Conservatives.  His point about the "game" being played by the ConDems, to blame big government for the state of UK finances, must have rung home with an audience of potential Labour voters.  We shouldn't forget, it was the banks what done it.

Of the others, Ed Balls, despite his reputation, seemed quite human.  Andy Burnham, who I like, is going to have to push himself forward a bit more if he's going to have a chance, and continuing to back the decision on Iraq is not going to win him many favours.

Ed Milliband seems the most sincere of the lot, but I don't think he's going to beat his brother.  Diane Abbot is acquitting herself well, deserves to get her say, and a job if Labour get back into power.  She is the only one with sense/honesty to say we should scrap Trident.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Don't do it Nick, you'll look stupid and get hurt

Observing the attempted seduction of Mr Clegg by Mr Cameron.

As predicted, Cameron is paying lip service to the idea of electoral reform, to try and make it possible for the Lib-Dems to go into coalition with him without looking stupid.  Don't do it Nick, you'll look stupid, and get hurt.

If this were Germany, not the UK, we would be talking about a centre-left coalition of Labour, Lib-Dem, SDLP, Green, and Alliance.  Why can't this be Germany?

Other parties, particularly the Scottish Nationalists (1,.8% of the vote, 0.9% of the seats, so far) also have a common interest in electoral reform, and no love of the Tories.  So, a Queen's Speech to adopt Labour's existing budget, implement electoral reform, and then have another election, would seem to be the answer.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

I am voting Labour for constitutional reform: here's why

Ben Goldacre is voting Lib-Dem for constitutional reform.  Respect for his principled position, but I fear if others follow his lead, it is an approach doomed to failure.


  1. If the Tories get an overall majority, we will not get constitutional reform.  Therefore those in favour must vote tactically against the Tories, including voting Labour in a Conservative-Labour marginal.
  2. If there is no overall majority, but the Tories are the largest party by a significant margin, the Lib-Dems will feel obliged to consider coalition with them first.  The Tories will gain their cooperation by playing lip service to voting reform, e.g. by agreeing to a referendum, but in practice strongly oppose it.
The second point is the reason why I am voting Labour in a Lab-Lib marginal.  Labour and the Lib-Dems in coalition would deliver substantive constitutional reform.

Labour already have a good track record of delivering constitutional reform:
  • Adoption of the European Convention of Human Rights
  • Partial reform of the House of Lords
  • Partial devolution of the UK
  • Proportional representation in elections for Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland governments
  • Freedom of Information Act 
If Labour are wiped out in this election we will not get constitutional reform.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Help! We've lagged our planet and can't turn the heating down

As the Copenhagen climate conference struggles gallantly towards the unavoidable shabby compromise, its worth pausing for a note of thanks to all those open-minded, definitely-not-biased, definitely-not-paid, professional global warming sceptics, who have managed to scupper every other previous initiative in this area over the last twenty years.

If you happen to be one of those sceptics, thank-you, from the bottom of my heart, for pissing the future of human civilisation, including that of my children, up the wall, in the interests of...well we know who, don't we. However, you are not totally alone. Even some professional meteorologists of my acquaintaince, have always doubted the science of climate change, despite the plain facts and simple physics being long known, and almost impossible to argue with.

Here then, in belated and pointless summary are what I see as the basic, undisputable facts:
  • There are gases in our atmosphere that effectively insulate the warm Earth from cold space, by inhibiting the radiation of heat. It is an easily measurable property of these gases.
  • "Modern" human civilisation generates large amounts of these gases.
  • The proportion of these gases in our atmosphere has been increasing since records began.
  • The gases take a long time to go away again.
So, we've been lagging the attic, but we can't turn down the heating down - the sun shines on.  These basic facts lead to predictions up to a century ago, that our climate would get warmer.   There is now very strong physical evidence that our emissions are causing our planet to warm.
    You can argue about the details, quality of the climate models, or whatever, but the basic correlation between what the basic physics predicts, and what actually appears to be happening, is surely strong enough to prompt us into major action.

    At the end of the day, we may be 20 years too late to do anything, but that doesn't mean its not worth trying. Fiddling at the margins isn't going to cut it though, and neither is waiting to 2050!

    I say, lets call in the extra-terrestrials.

    Trident: More than three reasons why we don't need it

    I would urge anyone in the UK reading this to sign the Rethink Trident petition.

    There is a comment box on the petition where you enter your thoughts on why renewing or replacing Britain's independent nuclear detterent (a.k.a. weapon of mass destruction) is a bad idea. These are mine:
    • It was designed for a war that ended 20 year ago.
    • Human civilisation would be at an end if we ever had to use it.
    • It helps justify Iran's, North Korea's and who-knows-who's own WMD programmes.
    • If we didn't already have one, we wouldn't remotely consider getting one.
    • Too many of our smartest brains, strongest leaders and most skillful sailors are wasted working on it.
    • We can't afford it any more.
    • The world can't afford it any more.
    Decommission it now, and don't replace it.