Re-cycling, Part 2: Endlessly recyclable plastic

Dr.  Brett Helms. who heads up a team of scientists, has announced that he has discovered a way of making scrap plastic indefinitely re- recyclable able.    Plastic material can be recycled, but because its quality degrades during the recycling process, even the stuff that makes it as far as a recycling plant (which is …

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What a mess we are making of our planet!

Microplastics have been found dropping from the sky in a remote stretch of the high Pyrenees – a stark illustration of the way that the pollutants, carried on the winds, have the potential to accumulate “anywhere and everywhere”.  Humans and other animals are consuming microplastics via food and water (including tap water), and there is …

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Now will you believe the science?

This planet of ours is beginning to burn — and not just last week or month either. It’s been smoldering for decades now. Last summer, for instance, amid global heat records (Ouargla, Algeria, 124 degrees Fahrenheit; Hong Kong, over 91 degrees Fahrenheit for 16 straight days; Nawabsha, Pakistan, 122 degrees Fahrenheit; Oslo, Norway, over 86 …

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Is climate change becoming too normal?

A recent study suggests that we quickly get used to unusual weather, which has troubling implications for our ability to motivate people to support measures that will protect us from global climate change.  The study measured the literal remarkability of different temperatures by seeing how much comment they generated on Twitter. Hot and cold conditions …

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Epicurus and the universe

Epicurus believed that there were twelve principles of nature, provable through firm evidence and true reasoning, using our five senses, our faculty of perceiving “anticipations,” and our “feelings” of pleasure and pain. He believed in conclusions supported by clear and convincing evidence. No evidence, he said, is ever to be disregarded as worthless. Real evidence …

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Our ( British) ancesters were all probably dark brown

The first modern Britons probably had blue eyes, dark hair and dark brown skin, according to a new DNA analysis of the oldest complete skeleton ever found in the UK. Cheddar Man, dug up in Somerset in 1903, lived some 10,000 years ago, not long after settlers began crossing over from Europe at the end …

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So much for the ‘Mediterranean diet’

Children in Italy, Greece and Spain are now the fattest in Europe. More than 40% of boys and girls aged nine are either overweight or obese. Sweets,junk food and sugary drinks have displaced the region’s traditional diet based on fruit and vegetables, fish and olive oil. (World Health Organisation) One study suggests that your bank …

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A thought from CERN, Geneva

I have just been to CERN and was reminded that Epicurus was a forerunner of todays particle physicists. Epicurean atomism was remarkably similar to nineteenth-century atomic chemistry: atoms as indivisible, eternal building blocks, things regarded as mere accumulations of atoms colliding with each other. More, the Epicureans came up with a “many worlds” cosmology long …

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Amazon Echo and electronic snooping

A Portland couple were discussing hardwood floors. Their Amazon Echo was listening, recording their discussion, then sending the recording randomly to someone in their contacts list, without the couple’s knowledge. The wife told Seattle TV station KIRO 7 that they learned something was amiss when they received a phone call from an employee of the …

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Uncovering your hidden biases

Are your hidden biases soon to be revealed? A computer program claims to be able to unmask them by scrutinising people’s body language for signs of prejudice. Algorithms can already accurately read people’s emotions from their facial expressions or speech patterns. So a team of researchers in Italy wondered if they could be used to …

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Tech billionaire parenting

“Melinda Gates’s children don’t have smartphones and only use a computer in the kitchen. Her husband Bill spends hours in his office reading books while everyone else is refreshing their homepage. The most sought-after private school in Silicon Valley, the Waldorf School of the Peninsula, bans electronic devices for the under-11s and teaches the children …

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Economic growth

“Only in economics is endless expansion seen as a virtue. In biology it is called cancer.” (From David Pilling’s book “The Growth Delusion”). Pilling’s core contention is that gross domestic product – the measurement upon which so much economic analysis is based – is an arbitrary, oversimplified construct that we “slavishly follow” for no good …

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Fighting back against data harvesting (No. 2)

Privacy and security? All is not lost. The techies are working on it. Read on………… We need to combine the control and personal autonomy of the early web with the ease and usefulness of the one we have today. A project called Solid, led by none other than Tim Berners-Lee himself, seeks to separate our …

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Fighting back against data harvesting, No.1

Data harvesting: the problem The original World Wide Web, invented by Tim Berners-Lee at the particle physics centre CERN near Geneva in 1999, was a “decentralised” affair. There were no central servers; websites ran on individual machines in universities, offices and bedrooms. Hosting a site just meant plugging a computer into your internet connection and …

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