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Songs, Snaps, Science

Sciencebase - 5 February, 2016 - 11:21


SB-songs-200px SB-photos-200px SB-science-200px SB-science-200px
Songs Snaps Science Book


Original source: Songs, Snaps, Science by David Bradley.

Categories: Science Blogs

Why are all our rock heroes dying?

Sciencebase - 5 February, 2016 - 10:23

Why are all our rock heroes dying? David Bowie, Motorhead’s Lemmy and former drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor, Yes’s Chris Squire, Toto’s Mike Porcaro, Mott the Hoople’s Dale Griffin, blues legend B.B. King, REO Speedwagon’s Gary Richrath, bassist Jimmy Bain, electronic music pioneer Edgar Froese, Greek great Demis Roussos, APP’s Chris Rainbow, Free’s Andy Fraser, legendary Lindisfarne’s Simon Cowe, Paul Kantner and, on the same day, Signe Toly Anderson from Jefferson Airplane, EW&T’s Maurice White (the day before I wrote this), The Eagles’ Glenn Frey, Colin Vearncombe (aka Black)…the list goes on…

Any claims that any of these deaths were anything to do with the sex and drugs and rock ‘n roll excesses of the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, 10s, would be pure speculation. It’s just pure statistics people, there is no conspiracy. They’re simply getting old and succumbing to the diseases of old age. Too old to die young…

There’s a gallery of rockers we lost in 2015 here

Original source: Why are all our rock heroes dying? by David Bradley.

Categories: Science Blogs

Better connected than Zuckerberg

Sciencebase - 5 February, 2016 - 09:59

Forget six degrees of separation. According to Facebook’s own research and data my “degree of separation” from others in the social networking site is just 3.09. Which means I am actually better connected than FB pres Mark Zuckerberg (3.17) although not as well connected as FB COO Sheryl Sandberg (2.97). Intriguingly, I have no direct mutual contacts with Zuck, but 3 mutual friends of Sheryl’s. The mean separation on Facebook is 3.57.


My friend Ellie, who is very well connected both online and offline will confirm that many moons ago we thought we’d invented the idea of six degrees because of the mutual friends we had and the odd coincidental connections we saw among each of our friends and family. Of course, it was Marconi in working on communications technology who apparently first suggested that one day we would all be connected to each other via mutual acquaintances to this degree. Oh, one more thing, you can play the Kevin Bacon game with almost any other A-list actor…

Original source: Better connected than Zuckerberg by David Bradley.

Categories: Science Blogs

Sweat test app

Sciencebase - 4 February, 2016 - 12:30

A wearable sensor that carries out chemical analysis of your sweat when exercising, for instance, and sends data about metabolites, eletrolytes and skin temperature to a smart phone app, could be the next device to assist in sports and health science, in athletic training for professionals and amateurs alike and offer them a detailed view of body chemistry. It could readily be adapted for diagnostic/monitoring in illness and injury too.

Original source: Sweat test app by David Bradley.

Categories: Science Blogs

Synthetic biology to fight Zika virus

Sciencebase - 3 February, 2016 - 14:22

Could synthetic biology be used to fight Zika virus and other emergent pathogens carried by mosquitoes? Andrew Maynard, Director of the Risk Innovation Lab, at Arizona State University, thinks so and discusses the possibilities in The Conversation:

“…infection-carrying mosquitoes are a global public health challenge, and the current spread of Zika is only emphasizing this. Using synthetic biology to prevent infection – either through vaccines or mosquito modification or elimination – would dramatically improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people. As Zika continues to spread – and if the suggested link with birth abnormalities is confirmed – synthetic biology could be one of our best hopes for containing and combating the disease.”

Read more in Maynard’s column in The Conversation.

Aedes aegypti

Zika FAQ

Q What are the health effects of infection with Zika virus?
A Common symptoms are a mild fever, rash, conjunctivitis and muscle pain, but there is growing evidence that it causes serious problems for the unborn fetus, leading to microcephaly and other developmental problems.

Q Where did Zika virus come from?
A It was first identified in the Zika forest of Uganda

Q How do you catch it?
A Zika is usually transmitted through a bite from the Aedes mosquito (which also transmits dengue and chikungunya. Sexual contact has recently been found to be a possible tranmission route too.

Q Is there a vaccine against the virus or any drugs to treat it?
A Not yet

Q Is Zika lethal?
A It has not led to any deaths so far

Q Where can I find out more?
A Try the PAHO/WHO Zika FAQ for more detailed information

Image of Aedes aegypti feeding by Muhammad Mahdi Karim, GNU Free Documentation License 1.2

Original source: Synthetic biology to fight Zika virus by David Bradley.

Categories: Science Blogs

Sciencebase, the music

Sciencebase - 2 February, 2016 - 21:12

dave-bradley-musicIn case you didn’t know, I’m a science journalist by day, a photographer on my days off and a musician by night. Always been in love with music, since my first rattle and toy guitar as a tot, been fretting guitar strings in earnest since I was about 12 years old and jamming with friends, but it’s only in the last decade or so that I have performed live and written and recorded my music. Some of my songs are available on Google Play, Youtube, ReverbNation, SoundCloud, Tradiio, Gumroad, Beat100, and other outlets including Spotify, Pandora, Amazon mp3, Loudr, MixCloud.dave-bradley-music

Here’s a very short list of a few of musicians, bands and artists I admire: Athlete, The Beatles, bigMouth, Blur, David Bowie, Kate Bush, Phil Collins, Crowded House, The Cure, John Denver, Doves, Editors, Elbow, Fred’s House, Peter Gabriel, Genesis, The Kinks, Led Zeppelin, Manic Street Preachers, Van Morrison, Gerry Rafferty, R.E.M., Nile Rodgers, Rush, Seals & Crofts, The Smiths, James Taylor, U2, Neil Young, there are many others. I’ve been told that I occasionally sound like a Geordie Glenn Tilbrook (that’s according to the Manchedelic Roger Waters better known as Dek “MonoStone” Ham), and sometimes George Harrison, Steely Dan, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Sting and David Bowie, Stephen Stills…I can dream, can’t I?

dave-geordie-and-westernMy music is on BandCamp and iTunes (originals, covers).

Original source: Sciencebase, the music by David Bradley.

Categories: Science Blogs

Down old Pompeii way

Sciencebase - 2 February, 2016 - 15:26

Pompeii was an ancient Roman town-city near modern Naples founded in the seventh or sixth century BC at the foot of Mount Vesuvius and famously destroyed by the volcano in AD 79. According to contemporary historians the eruption is documented as having started on 24th August 79 (Pliny) but archaeological excavations suggest that the city was buried about three months later, which is corroborated by another version of Pliny’s letter that dates the eruption as 23rd November. This date is also supported by the heavier clothing apparently worn by the people excavated. Interesting pseudo-documentary footage brings the death of a city to life:

Original source: Down old Pompeii way by David Bradley.

Categories: Science Blogs

Nacreous cloud spotting

Sciencebase - 1 February, 2016 - 17:46

UPDATE: These definitely are nacreous clouds, so-called because they look like nacre (mother-of-pearl). Lots of people posting photos all over twitter right now.

Just after the sun set over our village north of Cambridge, England, a whisp of white cloud caught my eye as I was staring out of my office window. Next to it there was a patch of rainbow-like fringes. Needless, to say I grabbed a camera and dangled myself out of the window to get a shot. Straggly shoots from the beech tree in our garden caught the attention of the camera’s autofocus, so it’s not a pin sharp shot of this meteorological phenomenon.


At first, I assumed it was an actual rainbow being formed by the light from the already set sun coming from that white whisp, but my buddy James over on Facebook mentioned that nacreous clouds have been spotted over Dublin today. Now, Dublin is quite some distance from here, but given that nacreous clouds are usually only seen at the poles, this could be them…if this meteorological phenomenon has somehow headed south.

Original source: Nacreous cloud spotting by David Bradley.

Categories: Science Blogs


Sciencebase - 13 January, 2016 - 10:51

I hope this doesn’t sound like too much pseudo, psychobabbly, philosophical claptrap. But…it’s been said before, we are stardust. The matter from which we are composed was forged in ancient stars that exploded and spread their atoms across the galaxy, later to seed life on Earth billions of years ago. The bottom line: we are stuff. But, smart stuff, stuff that is self aware. There is no escaping it, through us, the universe is self-aware. That awareness is not infinite, we do not (yet) fully understand the very stuff from which everything is made, the atoms, the energy, the dark matter…

By contrast, if you believe in a creator, a god, then the stuff from which you are made, is from that god, the god made the iniverse, and the stars within it that made the atoms from which your body is composed, the god made them from itself, there was presumably no other raw material in the beginning. Even if you imagine the creation took place in less than a week, either way, that stuff in you which in some religions includes a soul or spirit, is all just a little slice of that god as well.

Ignoring the rather remote possibility of an afterlife, given the laws of thermodynamics and chaos theory, then either way we are simply self-aware stuff, whether that stuff is the universe or a god, makes no difference. The universe is essentially our creator, whether that includes a god or not, it doesn’t matter (Afterlife option aside).

Get over it.

Original source: Stardust by David Bradley.

Categories: Science Blogs

Lemmium (Lm)

Sciencebase - 8 January, 2016 - 14:23

Regardless of petitions and campaigns, it’s unlikely that IUPAC/IUPAP will accept lemmium (Lm) as the new name for one of those recently discovered heavy metals because of basic naming constraints and because names usually go with institute or discoverer or some scientific hero rather than the late bass player from an awesome heavy metal band. Of course, heavy metal is akin to hard rock, so perhaps a mineral named after Lemmy (singer, bassist with Motorhead) would do? Lemmite! Stone dead forever, or overkill?

(Thanks to John Coupland and Joanne Manaster for discussion)

Liverpool professor backs campaign to name new heavy metal element after Motorhead frontman Lemmy (Beg to differ that Lemmy invented heavy metal, awesome as he was, that honour (claims on MC5 aside) goes to Black Sabbath, surely?

Original source: Lemmium (Lm) by David Bradley.

Categories: Science Blogs

Xmas Round Robin

Sciencebase - 23 December, 2015 - 08:59

Far too busy to send Xmas cards, but plenty of time to write a personal essay about your wonderful life? Check out the Xmas Round Robin, first one just received…


The Annual Xmas Round Robin

Well, what a year it’s been! We’ve all been so busy and no time for any of that keeping in touch malarkey so here’s the usual Round Robin you all look forward to receiving from us so much.

Dipping back to the end of 2014 it was fab fun to see in the New Year with Barack and Michelle and the kids at the White House with the flypast and everything and then to jet across to ‘Frisco with the rest of the gang in Air Force 1 to do it all again because of the time difference. Needless to say we were all a bit jetlagged catching our next flight to Honolulu for a well-earned couple of weeks on the beach and “her indoors” caught a few gnarly waves surfing for the first time in the competition (nice 18-carat trophy and $3000 (US) cash prize for the Macy’s sale too. Can’t be bad.
Blighted Blighty

Okay, so back in blighty (mid-Jan) and planning the exchange with our charity team in southern Africa ahead of the auction. Bit of a shock to get such a great donation from Bill and Melinda but all for a good cause and Steve J would’ve been so proud. But that was all down to junior’s efforts on his UN ambassadorial visit with the Dalai Lama the previous September. Not entirely sure how he found the time to take that trip, write “the” book and complete his joint honours (he *only* gone and got a first with distinctionz!

Meanwhile, child #2, who shall remain nameless (you know why people!) completed the ascent of Kilimanjaro and raised $13,546.23 for Mme Tussaud’s as well as organising the Everest base camp litter pick for the Easter weekend (which went well, the Coke cans alone weighed in at 14 tons (or should that be tonnes?) and paid for a new defibrillator for the orphanage in Laos.

After much deliberation, I finally accepted the joint consultancy role with Moscow and Nusa Penida and hope to have the R&D team up and running on the sustainable energy and water retrieval scheme by July of 2015, we should be able to irrigate at least 30,000 hectares annually while allowing the Wellington office to maintain its ethical stance on horsemeat. Thankfully.

Uncle “Tyler” passed away (#sadface). It was quite a shock as his halitosis had responded well to the surgery, but in the end it was the Epidermophyton floccosum that did for him in the end at the end.
Tripping out

We only squeezed in the two trips to “the holiday home that shall not be revealed” this year, but you know, sometimes I wonder why we don’t just make the Carib’n (shh) our permanent home. It was wonderful to catch up with Bob’s kids and to have a bit of a, ahem, jam with Zig and the band as always.

Before I forget, those of you from the old “club” will be well aware of the 150th anniversary that’s coming up so don’t forget to organise your ramekins (hint, hint) and make sure nobody lets on to Syd’s crowd until the night before. There’s so much more to tell you, but I’m running out of time (another flight to catch ahead of the 2016 “launch”, don’t tell Branson, by the way, you know what he’s like), so suffice to say, we’re all doing “ab fab”,everyfing is tickety boo and Xmas greets from all at “The Towers” (Heh, heh! One in the eye for Teresa)

Original source: Xmas Round Robin by David Bradley.

Categories: Science Blogs

Suspending the sprays, sidestepping side-effects

Sciencebase - 17 December, 2015 - 15:25

UPDATE: I kind of simplified what I was actually doing for the sake of the blog post, but you’re right and maybe I should add a warning to others not to follow my example. I’ve been weaning myself off the dose for a while, my GP was happy for me to do that and I have a pending thyroid test. Last one was fine, didn’t show any depression of T etc. I have, however, noticed the side-effects I reported as diminishing somewhat over the last couple of weeks.

WARNING: This post does not constitute medical advice, please talk to your GP before setting out on any self-revised prescription…

People rarely read the patient information leaflets that come with their medicine…well, I say that, I have no evidence for it other than anecdote and the fact that I don’t. Well, I have occasionally, but hadn’t for my asthma meds (a combined reliever, preventer called Symbicort that contains formoterol (long-acting beta-agonist, LABA, reliever) and the corticosteroid budesonide (the preventer). I’ve been on this medication for a couple of years because my previous preventer (beclomethasone) was giving me a really dry throat and adding far too much huskiness to my singing voice.

It’s only recently, however, that I’ve been wondering whether some symptoms I’ve been experiencing this last year or two might be down to the inhaler. So, I checked out the list of side-effects for the Rx and sure enough there are probably 4 or 5 things listed from which I suffer sporadically and with no apparent pattern. I had started to put some of them down to the morning-after-the-night-before type effects and more painfully, simply getting on a bit, I am soon to depart my fifth decade after all, but now I’m half worried that I’ve been poisoning myself all this time with my asthma treatment.


I wonder whether these various problems are due to my regular daily dose of corticosteroid and I’ve decided to stop taking the preventer/reliever for a few days to see whether any of the “side-effects” dissipate. Of course, it’s the worst time to do a personal clinical trial as Xmas is almost upon us, I will hopefully not be spending much time at my desk and may even have a few glasses of the hard stuff, as well as being exposed to at least a couple of relatives’ cats. So, it’s always going to be personal anecdotal evidence,and not double-blinded and certainly not controlled.

But, I’ve had enough of my extraneous, idiopathic symptoms, which could be due to the reliever or the preventer, or both, or neither (who knows?) and having read that there are growing concerns about long-acting beta agonists, even when used in parallel with a preventer, I’m going to take a leap of faith. The ENT specialist who checked out my vocal cords (more properly known as vocal folds) when I was getting all husky suggested I should wean myself off the corticosteroids anyway, so here goes. If I don’t end up being hospitalised having had a serious bronchospasm episode, I’ll let you know how I get on. Breathe easy…

Original source: Suspending the sprays, sidestepping side-effects by David Bradley.

Categories: Science Blogs


Sciencebase - 11 December, 2015 - 15:13

I remember in junior school, Mrs Nancarrow’s class, I was aged 10 or thereabouts, that I got told off for using some silly expletive and she saying that swearing was a sign of a poor vocabulary. I posited at the time that I actually knew all the proper words and the swear words so didn’t that mean I had a bigger vocabulary than those who didn’t swear? Needless to say that didn’t go down to well, although I’ve actually blocked the subsequent caning from my memory or she took my point…

Now, at last, I am vindicated by science! My saviour. In a paper entitled “Taboo word fluency and knowledge of slurs and general pejoratives: deconstructing the poverty-of-vocabulary myth“, Kristin L. Jay and Timothy B. Jay prove my point. “Taboo word fluency is correlated with general fluency,” they found.

So, you know what you can do now Mrs Nancarrow? Huh? Huh? Well, you can go and…and…have a jolly nice day.

Thanks to Richard Stephens for highlighting this paper in BPS Research Digest.

Original source: FFS by David Bradley.

Categories: Science Blogs

Snowman…more like snowgnome

Sciencebase - 4 December, 2015 - 11:27


There’s a nice joke doing the rounds again, a snowman going cheap, needs attention. But, let’s just look at those volumes again, shall we? Just how big a snowman would he have been? That carrot would’ve been outsize for sure…in any position…

Original source: Snowman…more like snowgnome by David Bradley.

Categories: Science Blogs

General musical inspiration, relatively speaking

Sciencebase - 25 November, 2015 - 14:21

A century since Einstein’s published his General Theory of Relativity and the launch date of the new track from Diagrams, the artistic moniker of Sheffield-based Sam Genders on which I played a tiny advisory role on a nanoscopic part of the lyrics.

“I’m fascinated by science and had been reading Einstein’s biography on the last European tour,” says Genders. “When I read that the centenary of the theory was approaching I was inspired to write a song to commemorate it.”

Swirling atmospherics reflect the cosmic subject matter, which inspired the track as synthesizers hum and whirl; yet these textures are juxtaposed with Genders’ rich, subtle vocal delivery and pastoral horn arrangements. The overall effect is wistful, but cautiously optimistic, drawing parallels between the incomprehensibility of universal matters, and, as Genders puts it, “the cosmos that we each have inside our heads.

The imagery included in Bates’ animation alludes to these parallel themes, as two figures seek to be reunited as they float through the void. They drift past intricate, intertwining concentric patterns while Genders sings of dancing “like two electrons held in the orbit of a radium ion”.

Original source: General musical inspiration, relatively speaking by David Bradley.

Categories: Science Blogs

Sciencebase in Emoji

Sciencebase - 23 November, 2015 - 15:08


I strongly suspect this bunch of emoji translate into something lewd, rude, crude, insulting…but it was just meant to be a few of my favourite things…so apologies if you speak emoji and are offended :-/

Original source: Sciencebase in Emoji by David Bradley.

Categories: Science Blogs

The ubiquitous Sciencebase

Sciencebase - 19 November, 2015 - 10:12


I’ve been on the net in one form or another since January 1989. First web page 1995 and registered in July 1999. Now where am I? Here, there and everywhere…

Twitter     Facebook     Tumblr     Flickr     Youtube     Vimeo     LinkedIn     BandCamp     Spotify     SoundCloud     ReverbNation     Instagram     Pinterest     Google+     FineArt     Science Blog     Tech Blog     Music and Photos Blog     “Sciencebase” the book

Social media icons image by Egbert .EGD from Flickr.

Original source: The ubiquitous Sciencebase by David Bradley.

Categories: Science Blogs

Beyond Bernoulli

Sciencebase - 18 November, 2015 - 18:49

It was Schrodinger who said the one question he wanted God to answer was that of turbulence…in an imaginary forthcoming popular science book entitled Beyond Bernouilli, the author explains how science will one day predict the behaviour of clouds, smoke, fluid flow and choppy seas…

Original source: Beyond Bernoulli by David Bradley.

Categories: Science Blogs

Winter Warning

Sciencebase - 18 November, 2015 - 16:57


Britain’s meteorologists are predicting another winter this year with the likelihood of highly seasonal weather and average temperatures plunging to well into the mean range for the time of year since records began. The warnings forecast clouds, some frost, slippy ice, very slippy black ice, lots of very grey and dull days. There will be a bit of snow that will disrupt the traffic and trains and could get very slushy once the temperature rises due to global warming that week. There might even be some really windy days that will shakes trees everywhere and blow leaves around a lot. The worst case scenario however will have the Bookies running for their hats at the end of the day, obviously, as the meteor office is predicting some intermittent sunny spells one of which will most likely fall on the day after Xmas Eve, that special day Christmas Day when everyone hopes it will snow.

Original source: Winter Warning by David Bradley.

Categories: Science Blogs

Festival of the Spoken Nerd – Review

Sciencebase - 13 November, 2015 - 23:24

You can take it as read that when Festival of the Spoken Nerd comes to Cambridge for two sold out nights on their national tour, with a hashtag #JustForGraphs (sorry #JustForChartsPlotsDiagrams), there are going to be nergasms aplenty and the locus of the evening is going to follow an exponentially hilarious curve. And as guests of lead uke player, physicist and songstress Helen Arney, Mrs Sciencebase and myself had a right good laugh like,and we never once lost the plot.


Needless to say Mrs Sb bought me the teeshirt – the one that is a Venn diagram (or is it an Euler diagram?) exposing the underlying mathematics of an early Blur song, and I grabbed a copy of FOTSN’s last tour on digital versatile disc for Helen, Steve Mould and Matt Parker to sign after the show. Apparently, Matt signs in binary, but I’m afraid the queue to speak to him was asymptotic (or was it tangential?). Either way it was long, so I only got Helen and Steve to (in his words) deface my merch.


There are a scattering of dates left on the tour and there are presumably a few seats left to fill, but like I say they sold out two nights in Cambridge, so check their website for listings and don’t miss it! This is part peripatetic science festival, part full-on standup comedy and part (a very big part) ubergeekery of the highest order.



Original source: Festival of the Spoken Nerd – Review by David Bradley.

Categories: Science Blogs

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