Thursday 26 July 2007


I’ve become a bit fed up with television in recent years. It seemed to be on a steep downward path with crap drama, crap "reality" programmes and indifferent current affairs coverage. Increasingly, unless something can be "dramatized", be it crime, history or buying a house, it seems to be of little interest to programme makers. Consequently, these days I watch very little telly and, when I do, I’m frequently disappointed.

Just occasionally, though, something comes along to restore my faith. This week that has happened twice. The first instance was the documentary Absolute Zero on the subject of cold and based on the book by Tom Shachtman, who is clearly barking mad, particularly when trying to recreate very dangerous historical scientific experiments. The second instance was tonight’s programme Atom, which took the potentially mind-numbing subject of quantum physics and turned it into a gripping story filled with amazing personalities, which is exactly what it is. Both of these programmes show that you don’t need to dramatize something in order to make gripping and exciting television. (Remember that horrendous Supervolcano programme? Why did that need fictional characters and drama, including an aircraft saved by a hero geologist? Surely the Yellowstone park erupting and causing global winter is dramatic enough!)

Thank goodness for BBC Four.

Friday 27 October 2006


The Sol 1K Problem. via Sore Eyes.

Tuesday 1 August 2006

When a book would be better than the Internet

I’ve just seen a lovely bumblebee in the garden. I like these fuzzy-bottomed creatures, but I’ve never seen one quite like this one – a slightly tapered bum (abdomen, I think) with three distinct amber-coloured stripes around the tip. The problem I have is that I’d like to know what type of bumblebee it is and whether I’ve spotted something rare or unusual. It’s this sort of thing that shows the limitations of the internet. If I had a book of insects, I could open the page of bees and compare all the different sorts until I spotted an illustration that best represented the creature I saw. However, the net relies on me making a search using the name of the creature I am seeking (looking for "bumblebees" is too vague). Wikipedia only offers a detailed description of the most common species.

Any suggestions? I’ve had a similar problem when I’ve spotted an unusual butterfly or moth. Birds are another group of creatures where I go straight to the bookshelf first.

Saturday 18 March 2006

On nappies

Two things:

Tuesday 14 March 2006

Mmmmmm pi

I was listening to the radio this morning and was heartened to learn that today is International Pie Day. I had visions of celebrating with some pastry-surrounded-meat concoction.

Unfortunately, it turns out that today is International Pi Day, which is far less exciting.