Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

chickeneditorA long and interesting article about science publishing in the Guardian is largely about the history of Robert Maxwells involvement in science publication, but contains much else of interest besides. A few excerpts:

Many scientists also believe that the publishing industry exerts too much influence over what scientists choose to study, which is ultimately bad for science itself. Journals prize new and spectacular results – after all, they are in the business of selling subscriptions – and scientists, knowing exactly what kind of work gets published, align their submissions accordingly. This produces a steady stream of papers, the importance of which is immediately apparent. But it also means that scientists do not have an accurate map of their field of inquiry.


On Sunday I gave a 10 minute presentation at a UKIP policy forum on climate and energy policy. This was well received and in the break-out group sessions during the afternoon, I found myself volunteered to chair the discussion and write-up our deliberations.

Forgive the wobbly video near the start. My cameraman decided to head round the other side of the room so I wasn’t blocking the view of the screen.


According to the latest international comparison, Australian kids are falling further behind, despite ever-larger sums of taxpayer cash being poured into the Chalk-Industrial Complex. One reason we’re raising another generation of dolts: propaganda passed off as wisdom

green teacherGreen/Left lobby Cool Australia, backed by Labor’s teacher unions and Bendigo Bank, is achieving massive success in brainwashing school students about the inhumanity of the federal government’s asylum-seeker policies, the evils of capitalism, and our imminent climate peril. The Cool Australia’s teaching templates are now being used by 52,540 teachers in 6,676 primary and high schools (71% of total schools). The courses have  impacted just over a million students via 140,000 lessons downloaded for classes this year alone. Students’ uptake of Cool Australia materials has doubled in the past three years.

Teachers are mostly flummoxed about how to prioritise “sustainability” throughout their primary and secondary school lessons, as required by the national curriculum.[1]  Cool Australia has marshaled a team of 19 professional curriculum writers who offer teachers and pupils easy templates for lessons that  include the sustainability mantra along with green and anti-government propaganda.

Antony van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723)

Posted: October 24, 2016 by tallbloke in Education, History, innovation


. . . my work, which I’ve done for a long time, was not pursued in order to gain the praise I now enjoy, but chiefly from a craving after knowledge, which I notice resides in me more than in most other men. And therewithal, whenever I found out anything remarkable, I have thought it my duty to put down my discovery on paper, so that all ingenious people might be informed thereof.Antony van Leeuwenhoek. Letter of June 12, 1716

Antony van Leeuwenhoek was an unlikely scientist. A tradesman of Delft, Holland, he came from a family of tradesmen, had no fortune, received no higher education or university degrees, and knew no languages other than his native Dutch. This would have been enough to exclude him from the scientific community of his time completely. Yet with skill, diligence, an endless curiosity, and an open mind free of the scientific dogma of his day, Leeuwenhoek succeeded in making some of the most important discoveries in the history of biology. It was he who discovered bacteria, free-living and parasitic microscopic protists, sperm cells, blood cells, microscopic nematodes and rotifers, and much more. His researches, which were widely circulated, opened up an entire world of microscopic life to the awareness of scientists.


Matt-RidleyCapX has a cogently argued piece from Matt Ridley on the reasons why Britains science endeavours would be benefited by #Brexit.

Britain – for its size – is probably the world’s leading scientific country. We have less than 1% of the world’s population, but 15% of the most highly cited scientific papers, and more Nobel prize winners than any other European country. We are world leaders in biotechnology and digital technology and our greatest potential collaborators and potential rivals in both fields are in Asia and America, not Europe.

So it is vital that we remain open to the world, not stuck in little Europe. A regional customs union protected by tariff walls and run from a central bureaucracy is a 1950s idea – an analogue project in a digital era, as Michael Gove puts it. In an age when container shipping has collapsed the cost of intercontinental trade; when the internet and budget airlines and Skype have made it as easy to collaborate with Asia and America and Africa as in Europe, regionalism makes less sense.


A fascinating letter from Michael Faraday to Richard Philips written in 1854.

faradayTo Richard Phillips, Esq.

Dear Sir,

At your request I will endeavor to convey to you a notion of that which I ventured to say at the close of the last Friday-evening Meeting, incidental to the account I gave of Wheatstone’s electro-magnetic chronoscope; but from first to last understand that I merely threw out as matter for speculation, the vague impressions of my mind, for I gave nothing as the result of sufficient consideration, or as the settled conviction, or even probable conclusion at which I had arrived.

The point intended to be set forth for consideration of the hearers was, whether it was not possible that vibrations which in a certain theory are assumed to account for radiation and radiant phaenomena may not occur in the lines of force which connect particles, and consequently masses of matter together; a notion which as far as is admitted, will dispense with the aether, which in another view, is supposed to be the medium in which these vibrations take place.


Guest post by Tony Thomas

Money-down-the-drainIn a further demonstration that no alarmist undertaking is too improbable for public funds to underwrite, the climate-change careerists at Melbourne University have teamed up with their equally error-prone counterparts in Potsdam. Bear this in mind when the next vice-chancellor cries poor

Two groups that like to out-vie each other on climate catastrophism have linked arms to give the Australian public and taxpayers a double dose of the scares. Melbourne University and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) have formed a Melbourne-based joint graduate body called theAustralian-German College of Climate & Energy Transitions. It has 16 multi-disciplinary PhD students, none pondering the 18-year halt to atmospheric warming. Expect lots of Melbourne/Berlin tripping and jetliner contrails.

This is yet another climate institute or centre in academia, one of hundreds interlocked throughout the Western world  (at least a dozen are in Australia, the ANU alone boasting five varieties). It’s a lucrative industry for normally funding-starved academics.[1]


Raif Badawi, the Saudi blogger being given weekly whippings, as an introduction to his ten year sentence, by the oppressive regime it is his misfortune to live under, wrote in praise of the religious scholasticism which characterises islamic science institutions. This from a longer article sampling his writings in the Guardian.

In September 2011 Badawi launched a witheringly sarcastic attack on Saudi clerics after a TV preacher called for astronomers to be punished on the grounds that they encouraged scepticism about sharia law.

Actually, this venerable preacher has drawn my attention to a truth that had been hidden from me Moon_Wizardand my dear readers – namely, the existence of the so-called “Sharia astronomer”. What a wonderful appellation! In my humble experience and in the course of my not inconsiderable research into the universe, its origins and the stars, I have never once come across this term. I advise NASA to abandon its telescopes and, instead, turn to our Sharia astronomers, whose keen vision and insight surpass the agency’s obsolete telescopes.

Indeed, I advise all other scholars the world over, of whatever discipline, to abandon their studies, laboratories, research centres, places of experimentation, universities, institutes etc. and head at once to the study groups of our magnificent preachers to learn from them all about modern medicine, engineering, chemistry, microbiology, geology, nuclear physics, the science of the atom, marine sciences, the science of explosives, pharmacology, anthropology etc. – alongside astronomy, of course.



Posted: January 8, 2015 by tallbloke in Accountability, Analysis, Education

Excellent article from Kenan Malik which adresses the vacillation of the PC mainstream media and the fundamental error of social thinking underlying it.



‘Je suis Charlie’. It’s a phrase in every newspaper, in every Twitter feed, on demonstrations in cities across Europe. The expressions of solidarity with those slain in the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices are impressive. They are also too late. Had journalists and artists and political  activists taken a more robust view on free speech over the past 20 years then we may never have come to this.

Instead, they have helped create a new culture of self-censorship. Partly, it is a question of fear, an unwillingness to take the kind of risks that the editors of Charlie Hebdo courted, and for which they have paid such a heavy price. But fear is only part of the explanation. There has also developed over the past two decades a moral commitment to censorship, a belief that because we live in a plural society, so we must police public discourse about different…

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This is a partial reblog of a post by the Scottish sceptic. Head on over to his site to read the full article.

The Climate wars – toward a washup review.
the Scottish Sceptic



As I said a while back (The limits of Climate Hysteria) we’ve now reached the stage in these “climate wars” whereby the climate itself is the main combatant forcing the ranks of the delusional public academia, to be dragged kicking and screaming to the reality of our ever varying climate, as the climate itself now imposes discipline where the idiots in the so called “institutions” of so-called “science” failed.

In other words, when we only had a few years of data and a lot of climate variables, it was far far too easy to “investigate” the most worrying trends and then to further cherry pick the data. Then to write up this cherry picked data and publish in buddy review journals, put on Wikipedia as “settled science” and try to convince the world your religion has a credible basis. But, the more data that is acquired and the more people look into every nook and cranny and not just the short-term worrisome trends, the more the real picture of a continuously varying climate emerges and so the less important any one short-term change appears. The more people who gather data, the less any individual can cherry-pick the data to e.g. claim “snow is disappearing” in a warm winter or “floods are increasing” in a floody year or “droughts are increasing” in a dry year.


Get your orders in quickly, Josh’s 2015 calendar is going to run out faster than Mickey Mann’s box of ‘pause excuse chocs’! The indispensable companion to your climate year, every year. Josh’s wry look at the science, culture, media, and politics of Global Warming is out now. Click the image to be whisked away to the order page or use this link.


Einstein papers Digitised

Posted: December 9, 2014 by Andrew in books, Education

imageThe California Institute of Technology has digitised the writings of Albert Einstein during the first 44 years of his life, translated into English.


Talkshop contributor Cheremon emailed me earlier to say that today is the centenary of the birth of Adventurer and anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl. Here’s a short Biography of this remarkable man. I visited the museum and ‘ethnological park he built on Teneriffe (with Fred Olson’s money) some years ago, and marvelled at the similarity of the ancient artifacts from both sides of the Atlantic on display next to the pyramids he excavated from a pile of rubble. This from


Thor Heyerdahl Biography

Writer, Academic, Archaeologist, Explorer (1914–2002)
Born in 1914, Thor Heyerdahl grew up in Norway. He attended Oslo University, where he studied zoology. In 1936, Heyerdahl went to live on the Pacific island of Fatu Hiva. He made his world-famous voyage from Peru to French Polynesia aboard the Kon-Tiki in 1947. His book about this adventure became an international hit. In 1953, Heyerdahl led an archaelogical expedition to the Galapagos Islands. Two years later, he traveled to Easter Island. In his later years, Heyerdahl excavated pyramids in Peru and the Canary Islands. He died in 2002. (more…)

bare-arsed2No reply from the eminent atmospheric physics professor… any takers?

Dear Professor xxxxxxx,

I am trying to better understand the physics underlying atmospheric science and wondered if you could answer a question for me.

The Modtran model successfully predicts the local temperature throughout the troposphere, but how do we determine the extent to which the level of radiative activity at a particular altitude is the effect of the local temperature at that altitude rather than the cause of it?

I ask because it appears from my limited reading and understanding that the theoretical underpinning of radiative-convective models neglects the effect of sea level pressure on the rate of evaporation, which must surely have a significant effect on the rate at which the ocean is able to shed the energy input to it by solar radiation.


The Feynman lectures on physics

Posted: August 21, 2014 by Andrew in Education, radiative theory

imageCaltech and the Feynman lectures website have published the Feynman lectures on physics online.


The business of American universities

Posted: August 1, 2014 by tchannon in Accountability, Education

Tim is writing this post, not Tallbloke so if it is seen as political or out of line I take responsibility.

I happened upon a blog article about US university bloat and aggrandisation, probably also all too true to some degree elsewhere in the world.

Administrators Are Big Men on Campus
July 22, 2014

America’s universities are turning more teaching over to low-paid “adjunct” professors and are leaving students with greater debt burdens, but one area were pay is high and the perks are lavish is in college administration, writes Lawrence S. Wittner.

There are links from the article, follow some, see if it rings true, this might raise some eyebrows


Prolific solar-planetary scientist and long-time talkshop friend Nicola Scafetta has a new paper published in Physica A entitled ‘Global temperatures and sunspot numbers. Are they related? Yes, but non linearly. A reply to Gil-Alana et al. (2014)’ which comments on Gil-Alana et al 2014; a paper purporting to dismiss any correlation between solar activity and terrestrial surface temperature. Nicola gently points out the limitations of their methods and patiently explains how the astronomical-solar signal can be found in the data. Here is Figure 3 to whet your appetite:



Fig. 3. (A) Annually solved HadCRUT3 global surface temperature record [34] from 1850 to 2013. (B) Power spectrum density functions calculated using the MEM method (using M = N/2 = 82) and the MTM periodogram f (p) [35,36]: the calculations were made with the SSA–MTM Toolkit. Several spectral peaks (e.g.: at about 9.1, 10.4, 20 and 60 yr) are statistically significant above the 95% confidence level, and their solar, lunar and astronomical origin is explained in the literature (e.g.: Scafetta [10,32,33,25]).

Nicola also provides plots of several of the various solar and temperature related indices and techniques for representing them over a wide range of timescales which clearly demonstrate the plain fact of the close coherence between the activity of our host star which supplies all our energy, and the fluctuations of the lovely moderate temperatures we live in on the surface of our planet.


Matt Ridley article for the Times, reposted from the GWPF, because as many people as possible need to read it and think. Then act by using your vote sensibly.

Date: 28/07/14 Matt Ridley, The Times

wind-costsIf wood-burning power stations are less eco-friendly than coal, we are getting the search for clean energy all wrong
On Saturday my train was diverted by engineering works near Doncaster. We trundled past some shiny new freight wagons decorated with a slogan: “Drax — powering tomorrow: carrying sustainable biomass for cost-effective renewable power”. Serendipitously, I was at that moment reading a report by the chief scientist at the Department of Energy and Climate Change on the burning of wood in Yorkshire power stations such as Drax. And I was feeling vindicated.

A year ago I wrote in these pages that it made no sense for the consumer to subsidise the burning of American wood in place of coal, since wood produces more carbon dioxide for each kilowatt-hour of electricity. The forests being harvested would take four to ten decades to regrow, and this is the precise period over which we are supposed to expect dangerous global warming to emerge. It makes no sense to steal beetles’ lunch, transport it halfway round the world, burning diesel as you do so, and charge hard-pressed consumers double the price for the power it generates.


There has been some progress in the greenhouse. On the ‘toy planet’ thread, physicist Tim Folkerts now agrees with me that longwave infra-red radiated from the air towards the surface doesn’t directly heat the ocean but makes it harder for the ocean to cool. In my view this is due to IR radiation from the ocean making the air warm, reducing the temperature differential between ocean and air, slowing the rate of the Sun warmed ocean’s heat loss. Tim says:

LWIR is indeed incapable of “heating” the oceans in the strict sense of the word (net transfer of thermal energy). The best it can do is aid in making it “a far more difficult task escaping” for the energy.

But it’s hard for him to let go of ingrained notions, so his next comment is full of ambiguities, which I have tried to deal with in my followup comment:

Tim Folkerts: The DWIR DOES amount to ~ 330 W/m^2.

Fine, no problem.

This energy DOES get absorbed by the ocean.

In the top few microns, and is soon re-emitted along with an additional ~60W/m^2 IR, upwards.

The ocean IS warmer than it would be without this DWIR from the atmosphere.

But not because it is absorbed and re-emitted from the top few microns of ocean. The thermalisation of IR in the bulk air helps keep the air warm and that warm air slows the sun warmed ocean’s heat loss.

But the reason the air is warm is because the ocean warms it with the energy it emits into it which is absorbed and re-emitted, or conducted to the O2 and N2 in the air, by water vapour (from the ocean) and co2 (mostly from the ocean). Air has very little heat capacity of its own, and is nearly transparent to incoming solar short wave radiation. And this ocean warmed air is usually convecting upwards.


Science minister replaced in UK cabinet reshuffle

Greg Clark, MP for Royal Tunbridge Wells, has been appointed minister for science and universities in the UK government’s latest cabinet reshuffle, following his predecessor David Willetts’ resignation.

Born in Middlesbrough, Clark studied economics at the University of Cambridge and the London School of Economics and spent time working for a consultancy firm before entering politics. He was director of policy for the Conservatives for three successive party leaders: William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard, before being elected as an MP in 2005. In opposition he spent two years as the shadow secretary for energy and climate change.

Chemistry World, Royal Society of Chemistry

My bold.

Giggle at RSC bothering with Royal in Tunbridge Wells.