October 2008

Having played around a bit with Tristan’s EEE PC, I am considering getting a netbook computer myself. My old iBook is not very portable and, while the big screen and keyboard it offers have advantages, there is considerable appeal in a machine that could be a default content of my backpack. Do any readers have […]

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British Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon has been saying some worrisome things about terrorism, security, and civil liberties. He is backing a plan to create a massive database of mobile and internet communications, for purposes of fighting terrorism. One worrisome aspect is the suggestion that it would be used to deal with “terrorists or criminals.” Technologies […]

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As of today, I am officially a graduate of the University of Oxford. My name was read in absentia at the ceremony in the Sheldonian Theatre today. As such, I am now a member of the Convocation. Admittedly, it is somewhat anticlimactic to finish my degree in this way. It was, however, the sensible choice. […]

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This collection of Richard Feynman‘s autobiographical anecdotes is both charming and amusing. More than anything else, it conveys what a remarkable character he is, and what an astonishing variety of things he managed to do. Few Nobel Prize winning physicists can claim to have had a one man art show, learned to pick locks and […]

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Nicholas Stern – most notably the author of an eponymous report on the economics of climate change for the British government – has a piece in The Guardian arguing that the financial turmoil ongoing around the world provides an opportunity to refocus investment on low-carbon options: The International Energy Agency estimates that world energy infrastructure […]

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Despite the end of the Cold War, there remains some possibility of a major nuclear exchange between some combination of those world powers with more than a couple of hundred nuclear weapons. Such an outcome could arise through accident or miscalculation, unauthorized launch, or simply through the progressive stressing of the situation, in a manner […]

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Boing Boing came up with quite a find today: a video from 1958 that is both amusing and full of relatively accurate information about climate change. Entitled “The Unchained Goddess,” it was produced as an episode of the Bell Telephone Hour. As I have described before, the idea that climate change only entered the realm […]

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For those with a serious interest in the history and practice of cryptography, David Khan’s The Code-Breakers: The Comprehensive History of Secret Communication from Ancient Times to the Internet provides an enormous mass of knowledge. The scope of the 1200 page book is vast: covering everything from the earliest ciphers to the origins of public […]

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Some research recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States examined the behaviour of the climate in the period immediately before eight abrupt shifts. In all cases, there was a reduction in the level of climatic fluctuation immediately before the tipping point was reached. The authors argue that […]

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The American Government Accountability Office has released a report (PDF) on carbon capture and storage (CCS). Some key points: To make a significant contribution to fighting climate change, the International Energy Agency estimates that 6,000 CCS facilities would be required, each storing one million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. Integrating CCS into existing coal […]

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