Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Multidimensional Bigotry

It turns out that everyone's favourite exploiter of xenophobia also has plans for homophobia:
The Conservatives' turmoil over David Cameron's plans for gay marriagehas been compounded after Ukip pledged to exploit their divisions and go after the votes of Tories who abandon the party over the issue.
Amid signs that Conservative associations are losing members in their droves over what is being dubbed the prime minister's "clause IV moment", the Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, warned that gay marriage could "rip apart" the Conservative party. He plans to put the issue at the heart of Ukip's campaign for the 2014 European parliamentary elections.
Ukip stands for the UK Independence Party, an anti-European Union party whose biggest successes have come in EU elections.  While I'm sure the party members themselves would argue that they are not xenophobic, they clearly benefit from anti-immigrant sentiment, which in the UK also includes a certain level of anti-looks-like-a-Muslim totally-not-racism-honest.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Golden Spike and the Private Space Industry

As a follow-up to my post from a couple of days ago, I thought I'd comment on the announcement by the Golden Spike company to land on the moon by the end of the decade.  In a more general sense, there's the question of commercial space travel; I'd somehow missed the news that the SpaceX company successfully delivered cargo to the ISS earlier this year.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The Science of the Apollo Missions

On the subject of research papers, I recently came across a paper by Ian Crawford on the science of the Apollo missions.  It's a review written at a non-technical level; it's from the journal Astronomy and Geophysics, but the only link I've found is at the arXiv.  I encourage anyone curious about the scientific merits of the whole affair to read it.  One interesting quote compares what Prof. Crawford achieved on a field trip on Earth to the moon missions, concluding
I do not think that we were inefficient, and we were in fact well-pleased with what we accomplished (which will result  in several peer-reviewed publications), but clearly what we achieved in 42 man-days at one site in Iceland pales into insignificance to what the Apollo astronauts achieved in 25 man-days at six sites on the Moon under far more difficult operating conditions. Based on my own experience I find the field efficiency of the Apollo astronauts to  be simply staggering.

On Reading

Once upon a time, I used to read for fun.