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Comment Re:Wow, live stargazing is a TV show in England? (Score 4, Interesting) 116

Look, I love astronomy far more than the average person, but live stargazing - especially in cloudy England - is just about the dullest thing I can think of to bring out what's interesting in the field.

I don't understand why think that the producers of this series of hour-long programmes wouldn't have the same concerns, and ensured that the programmes were not dull?

I watched the first programme. It was presented by well-known physicist/presenter Brian Cox and comedian Dara O'Briain (who has a degree in theoretical physics and does a great routine debunking alternative medicine). They presented a live segment from Jodrell Bank which explained how radio telescopes work and Jodrell Bank's key role in the development of that field. They had a live report from the observatories in Hawaii, explaining what made that such a great location for telescopy, and also looking at how the islands were formed, reminding us about planetary formation and make-up. They took Jonathan Ross (a geeky presenter/celeb) out into a back-yard observatory, aimed the telescope and showed him Jupiter and its four visible moons). They explained the layout of the solar system, and the rotations of the planets, and pointed out that Uranus was currently in conjunction with Jupiter, and how to see it for yourself. They also answered questions that were being texted in by viewers (including a great one: "If there are so many billions of stars, how come it's so dark at night?").

Admittedly not all of this needed to be done live, but doing so gave them a hook to build up a lot of publicity about the programme, and it meant that the energy of the programme was very high, with very appealing and natural approaches by the presenters.

Comment Re:All depends (Score 1) 315

I'd think that you could build a perpetual-motion machine if you could do this.

No, because it relies on the wind blowing: first to accelerate, and second to maintain whatever velocity it reaches. Once the wind stops blowing, it will slow down and stop. Here's a nice illustration of how this phenomenon works: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Yt4zxYuPzI&feature=related

Comment Please stop moaning! (Score 3, Insightful) 352

Jesus guys, can't you just congratulate the Firefox devs on the great job they're doing? Just look at the rate of improvement over the past few months and give the JaegerMonkey/TraceMonkey guys kudos for a really impressive job of software engineering. Have a look at David Mandelin's recent post to get an idea of how much work and planning has gone into this project.

Comment Re:Global warming and you. (Score 1) 895

Sigh. These are well-known anti-AGW claims that mis-represent the evidence and the understanding of that evidence by climate scientists. If you've really been looking for answers to these claims, can I ask where you've been looking?

  1. It has been well-known to climate scientists for twenty years that on long timescales trends in CO2 levels follow trends in average temperature by about 1000 years. This is because on long timescales the Earth's temperature is driven by its orbit around the sun, and these changing temperature causes changes to mechanical and chemical processes, which affect the amount of natural CO2 in the atmosphere. However, it is also very clear from the same records that on shorter timescales, rises in the level of CO2 lead increases in temperature.
  2. It's well-known to climate scientists that the level of water vapour in the atmosphere is purely a function of temperature, and so is a (slightly lagging) indicator of global temperatures. Basic physics tells them this, and the climate records bear this out. Adding more water to the atmosphere causes more water to precipitate out, and the temperature remains unchanged. Adding CO2 to this atmosphere causes the atmosphere to warm up, causing more water to remain as vapour, and so increasing the effect of warming effect of water vapour. Water vapour's role in the atmosphere is to strengthen the impact of changes of CO2 levels, not to buffer it.
  3. It's well-known that Greenland was slightly more habitable during the Mediaeval Warm Period, which was a localised warming around the North Atlantic. Greenland got settled then, and when the Warm Period ended a few decades later, everyone there starved to death.
  4. There was some research (Fenton 2007) that seemed to indicate changes in climate on Mars. However this was based on two data points, and use of more data points makes it clear that there is no evidence of such a change. Even if the climate was changing on Mars, so what? Unless you can identify the mechanism, and explain how that mechanism applies to the Earth, it makes no difference to our situation.

Now that your misunderstandings have been addressed, I'm interested to see if you change your opinion on this matter.

Comment Re:Evil Empire (Score 1) 438

Given that the existing Lala subscribers all had contracts with Lala, and any changes that Apple are making will be within the terms of those contracts, perhaps it's fairer to blame Lala for writing such evil contracts in the first place? If the founders of Lala had really been focused on the interests of their customers, they would have given them fairer contracts, or held on to their company, rather than selling out as soon as they got a good-enough offer.

Comment Re:Boycott? (Score 1) 182

Don't worry, every chiropractor in the country is already feeling the backlash from the 'Chiropocalypse', as every one of them has had their promotional material reviewed for breaches of UK advertising standards and trading standards, as well as breaches of the published codes of practices of the various governing bodies of chiropractors. Choice quote from one of these bodies: "The target of the campaigners is now any claims for treatment that cannot be substantiated with chiropractic research. The safest thing for everyone to do is [...] [i]f you have a website, take it down NOW. "

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