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Posts Tagged ‘science’

080116-geology-14

Face to face with William Smith – a bust of the man by Joseph Brogden Baker of Scarborough and a portrait painted in 1837 by Hughes Forau

Have you heard of William “Strata” Smith? Well I hadn’t until 2001, when I read a review in a weekend magazine and bought Simon Winchester’s book about him, called The Map that Changed the World. He has been one of my heroes ever since. (more…)

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210415-yellowmoth-01

Yellow moth on Mahonia berries, April 21, 2015

I made a rare observation (for me) of a yellow moth the other day and one thought led to another, as it usually does…

But first the moth. I was arriving home when I saw (more…)

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spider-web

Rainbow colours in a spider web caused by diffraction of light – from Earth Science Picture of the Day

Please indulge me while I share some shiny things with you.
I always get like this in Spring, when the sun grows stronger and nature has a certain sheen to it.

I think it’s a woman thing, a gatherer trait inherited from our Stone Age forebears, who must have spent their whole lives looking for bright, shiny berries to pick and eat.

And in many species it’s the male who displays and the female who appreciates it. Apparently not in humans, but diamonds are still a girl’s best friend. So here I am exploring both sparklies and more subtle lustres – as I look at the words iridescence, opalescence and pearlescence. (more…)

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Rinjani

The Indonesian volcano of Rinjani in 1994, by Oliver Spalt on Wikimedia Commons

STOP PRESS: Moments after I published this, reports came in of a volcano erupting in Sumatra – so best wishes to everyone struggling there…

Did you have an irrational fear of something when you were a child? In my case, for a while at least, I was terrified of volcanoes. You might say that’s not so crazy. But as I lived in Wales, where an eruption would be pretty near impossible, I think it was.

So this post is all about what (more…)

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old-damascus

A romantic painting of old Damascus by Frederic, Lord Leighton, 1874

The city of Damascus is in the news for all the wrong reasons in 2012 as the awful bloodshed goes on in Syria. Forgive me if, for a moment, I sidestep the political and humanitarian issues and instead look at the glories that have been. For Damascus once meant luxury and craftsmanship for us, here in the west of Europe.

Damascus, whose name comes from roots meaning “a well-watered place”, is the capital of Syria and its second-largest city. It is in the south-west of the country and is sometimes (more…)

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mucha-venus-400

Morning and Evening Star by Alphonse Mucha, 1902

I find it hard to believe that I have only just put two and two together and worked out why Venus is always the morning or evening star!

I expect you know already, but if you think about it, as Venus is closer to the sun than we are, it’s always (more…)

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blue-moon-shadow

Blue is the colour (with a little help from my PhotoShop) - to see the original mauve Moon Shadow rose, click on this image by Drew Avery

In his prime, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, my father grew hybrid tea roses – 150 of them, row upon row, in our long, narrow back garden.

And like most rose enthusiasts, he dreamed (more…)

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