From School to University: A smooth transition or crossing a chasm

06 Nov

Conference Report – Scimat 2017

  The sixth biennial Science Matters (Scimat) conference “Bettering Humanity: Secular Historic Movements” Cascais, Portugal, October 25-27, 2017. This conference is the sixth in the biennial series of Scimat conferences held in Portugal under the Scimat (Science Matters) programme, which was started ten years ago. Scimat is a new term

29 Sep

Mind, Religion and Science

There are lots of negative aspects about religions and religious beliefs, but there are some good features: in particular about aspects of human behaviour.  A number of years ago[1] I was at a lecture given by a catholic priest who was discussing the idea put forward by some neuroscientists that

25 Sep

Science as a process rather than as a means of creating objects

The problem with envisaging science as the creation of “objects” is that a universe full of objects is rather a boring place. Nothing much happens unless the objects actually do something.  The element of time or process in such a world is either missing or of reduced importance. We may

14 Sep

Scientific Integrity

We all like to think of scientists as embodying the ideals of carrying out research with the highest integrity, moral standards and dedication. The overwhelming majority fit within this mould, but there are some who engage in what can only be described as scientific misconduct, even fraud. The question is

11 Sep

Where is Science in Culture?

The discussion of science’s place in culture dates back to the late 1820’s. According to Richard Holmes[1], under the theme of the decline of science in Britain, there were a series of publications by John Herschel (1792 – 1871), Charles Babbage (1791 – 1871) and David Brewster (1781 – 1868).

06 Sep

Science and Humanities Funding

In July 1945 Vannevar Bush, who was Director of the US Office of Scientific Research and Development submitted a report for President Roosevelt entitled “Science: The Endless Frontier” in which he recommended a big increase in science spending. His recommendations were mostly adopted by the US government and from 1950

02 Sep

The lyrics of quantum mechanics

If a child can understand quantum mechanics slightly better by hearing a poem or song then so much the better. In quantum mechanics there is the notion of complementarity: two contrasting theories or entities which are relevant to the same phenomena under different conditions. An example is the wave and

08 Aug

Women authors for physics textbooks

At an early stage of planning for the Pantaneto series of physics textbooks, I was at an advanced stage of negotiation with 12 authors: 8 male and 4 female. I expected that probably half of the authors would bow out for various reasons and I did, in fact, end up

16 Jul

Fuzzy Trace Theory

Politicians, sociologists and scientists are often concerned about how the general public make decisions, either for themselves in everyday life, or collectively in elections or facing political issues. Fuzzy trace theory (FTT) developed out of the puzzling observation that in spite of more detailed information being available, people’s decisions on