Blog Archives

Should we fear the weekend effect?

The British health secretary wants to impose new working conditions on doctors. He says we’re more likely to die if we’re admitted to hospital over the weekend than during the week. The ‘weekend effect’ has been shown, but weekday and

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Posted in Current affairs

Lessons from Syria 2: Anatomy of a modern conflict

The Syrian Civil War began in the ‘Arab Spring’ of 2011. It followed the collapse of Syrian agriculture due to drought. Millions of displaced farmers joined Iraqi refugees in slums around the major cities. Syria demonstrates several elements likely to

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Posted in Current affairs

Lessons from Syria 1: Refugee crisis or refugee opportunity

The war in Syria has driven over 10 million people from their homes. Around 4 million have left Syria, of whole 400,000 are among 1-1.5 million refugees in Europe. Evidence suggests that working age migrants benefit their host countries, but

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Posted in Current affairs

Into the Kuiper Belt

In 1930, a young astronomer called Clyde Tombaugh noticed something moving across successive photographs of a starfield, and discovered Pluto. In 2006, 30g of Tombaugh’s ashes were loaded aboard NASA’s New Horizons probe before it blasted off for Pluto. Yesterday,

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Posted in Current affairs

Europa’s Debtor

“I don’t care if you’re a Greek god. You had your fun and now you owe me for it. Come out of there or I’ll…” Europa looked around the dining hall of Olympus. It was more spartan than she’d expected.

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Posted in Current affairs, Saturday Hooptedoodle

Inspirations: Click ‘Like’ to Enter the Digital Panopticon

All of our internet activity is monitored by state surveillance agencies. The monitoring violates our privacy and compromises the security of our personal information. We expect the state to protect us from criminals and terrorists. Can we realistically expect both

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Posted in Current affairs, Inspirations, Wednesday Pontification

Measles vaccination saves even more lives than anyone thought

A few weeks ago, I flew into one of my rages at pseudoscientific misinformation and listed the many reasons to ignore the scaremongers and vaccinate children against measles. A study published a couple of weeks ago showed the benefits of

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Posted in Current affairs

Measles on the March

Measles kills 400 people every day, and has returned to countries where it had been eradicated. The MMR vaccine is a safe and effective way of protecting children from measles. Studies in countries where MMR was discontinued prove there is

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Posted in Current affairs, Wednesday Pontification

Solar Impulse 2: Update

At 07:12 local time, Andre Borschberg took off from Abu Dhabi. In itself, there’s nothing remarkable about taking off from a busy airport. What is unusual is that his aircraft did not carry a single drop of fuel. As I

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Posted in Current affairs, Inspirations

Inspirations: Round the world on a wing and a prayer

Solar Impulse 2 is a solar powered aircraft designed for a multi-stage circumnavigation. Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg plan to start this month. The project has developed many technologies that will have more widespread uses. Let’s wish them luck! On

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Posted in Current affairs, Inspirations, Wednesday Pontification
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