Science and technology

Does it matter if amateur radio dies out?

In this age of instant, world-wide communications, does it matter if a hundred year-old radio culture fades away?

Categories: science and technology

Using an ammo box as portable 12V power supply

A military-surplus steel ammunition box makes a great housing for a high-current, outdoor 12V power supply. This article gives some ideas about how to build one.

Categories: science and technology

Why is covid-19 testing so unreliable? A pictorial view

The UK Government's response to the covid-19 is to 'test, test, test'. This article demonstrates in pictorial terms why this strategy will catastrophically overestimate the number of people actually infected, leading to widespread disruption.

Categories: science and technology, mathematics

Why the energy cost or benefit of switching to DAB digital radio is hard to assess

The big switch-off of analogue radio services in the UK has been deferred repeatedly. One of the reasons for this is that the impact on energy efficiency is hard to assess. This article seeks to explain why.

Categories: science and technology

A ten-minute guide to electrical theory

Volts, amps, ohms, and watts, for complete beginners. This article explains electrical circuit theory in the context of domestic wiring installation.

Categories: science and technology

How flat-earthers use misrepresentations of scale to promote their ideas

Misrepresentations of scale are common in the literature of organizations that seek to deceive. However, it's sometimes difficult, or unhelpful, to draw diagrams to scale. This article tries to explain the difference between benign and pernicious distortions of scale. I'm picking on the flat-earthers for the purposes of illustration, but the presentational devices they use are common in business and politics as well.

Categories: science and technology, education, snake oil

Is your fitness watch lying to you?

People are increasingly using smart watches and fitness watches for tracking health metrics. Is it wise to do so? (Short answer: probably not.)

Categories: science and technology, snake oil

Homeopathy: flushing science down the lavatory

My purpose in this article is not to explain that homeopathy doesn't work -- for all I know it might -- but that widespread acceptance of homeopathy is damaging to the scientific enterprise, and ultimately to society. I will also make the suggestion that the increased interest in homeopathy, and in other forms of alternative medicine, is a reaction to a dissatisfaction with modern medical practice, rather than a conviction that homeopathy is actually efficacious.

Categories: science and technology, snake oil

Juice-jacking -- it's a problem, but not because it's a problem

Juice-jacking is the alleged practice of getting unauthorized access to the contents of a cellphone by subverting public USB charging points. It doesn't happen, and probably never has; so why has there been a recent increase in scare stories?

Categories: science and technology, security

Did aliens really talk to us in binary code at Rendelsham Forest?

It isn't often that coding theory can be used to evaluate a claim of a UFO encounter. Here is one instance where it can.

Categories: science and technology, mathematics

How problematic is resampling audio from 44.1 to 48 kHz?

Audio CDs were recorded using a 44.1 kHz sample rate that is found almost nowhere else. If we have to resample this audio to suit more modern equipment, how much loss of audio quality will there be?

Categories: science and technology, music

An introduction to steam locomotive technology

Oh yes it's great to be an engine... But how did the driving force of the industrial revolution actually work?

Categories: science and technology

Making simple stop-motion animations using Linux and a DSLR camera

Creating stop-motion animated movies using a DSLR camera and some basic Linux tools. It won't rival Pixar, but it's something to do with your kids on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Categories: science and technology, Linux

Why we only see one side of the moon -- the odd phenomenon of tidal locking

We only see one face of the moon from the Earth, and that isn't a coincidence. The same process that causes this effect also affects other celestial bodies, often in more interesting ways.

Categories: science and technology, education

The planet Vulcan: a cautionary tale that deserves to be better known

Why was the non-existent planet Vulcan so frequently sighted by astronomers in the nineteenth century, and what can contemporary scientists and science students learn from this episode?

Categories: science and technology, education