Archive for July 3, 2010

The Hawking Paradox

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , on July 3, 2010 by telescoper

I found this on Youtube. The programme was made for the BBC TV series Horizon and first broadcast in the UK in 2005. You’ll find yours truly in a couple of places, when I was working at the University of Nottingham and had more hair. In fact got a bit of stick, from some people at a certain University I used to attend, for being insufficiently reverential in my comments about Stephen Hawking but, for what it’s worth, I stand by everything I said. I do admire him enormously as a physicist, but I think his very genuine contributions are sometimes lost in the cult that has developed around him.

Anyway, I thought the programme turned out relatively well. Horizon has gone steadily downhill since 2005, obviously because I haven’t been involved…

It’s in 5 parts so if you want to watch all of it, you will need to click through to the next at the end of each segment.


Posted in Columbo with tags , on July 3, 2010 by telescoper

It’s been a while since I posted anything about Columbo, so I decided to take a quick picture of him in the garden. Now the roses have gone, but the lilies are out and I thought it would look nice to get a snap of him with them in the background. He didn’t seem to keen to pose, however, and I had to settle for this one in which he looks more than a little grumpy…

The hot humid weather we’ve been having recently broke on Thursday with a considerable downpour of rain. Columbo was delighted. With him being diabetic I have to make sure he gets plenty of water so I give him a fresh bowlful every morning. Usually, however, he prefers to go outside and drink rainwater from varies containers around the garden. During the hot spell these have gradually dried up and he’s been forced to drink the water I provide, which he clearly doesn’t like as much. I asked the vet about this and he said it’s because tap water smells funny to cats. Dirty water in a manhole cover doesn’t, apparently.

Anyway, when it rained Columbo went out and started lapping water up from puddles and off the leaves of the shrubs in the garden. He obviously loved it, although he was a very soggy moggy when he finally decided he’d had enough.

One of the drawbacks of Cardiff is that it’s a pretty damp place generally, partly because it rains quite often and partly because it’s very low-lying. My own house is near the River Taff – on its flood plain, in fact – so the water table isn’t far down. The result of this is that the garden can become a profusion of slugs and snails. Fortunately, I’ve never had the problem that some neighbours have had with slugs getting into the house. The hot weather has kept them away this year, but when I went out yesterday morning they were all over the lawn and even climbing up the walls. Obviously they prefer damp conditions, but it doesn’t take much to make them spring into life. Today’s warm again and I didn’t see any this morning. I wonder where they go when it’s too dry?

It’s sunny again today and Columbo’s reverted to his usual place in the shade at the end of the garden, emerging occasionally to make a half-hearted attempt to catch butterflies. The slightly odd weather seems to have done wonders for flowering plants – the roses were lovely this year, and the honeysuckle is still going which probably explains the large number of butterflies.

I wish I could persuade some songthrushes to visit and feast upon my latent slug population, but I suppose with a fierce cat lurking in the bushes they’re wise to stay away.