Tuesday 13 November 2007

Saturday 10 November 2007

Bulters Wharf by Tower Bridge on the Thames, taken just before sunrise

My first proper attempt at high dynamic range photography using Photomatrix. Thiswas taken just before sunrise using a single image. I like to think it has come out quite well


Friday 9 November 2007

Tornado Strikes in Surrey

Tornado Strikes in Surrey
Yesterday a squall line passed through accompanied by some very strong winds.

A small tornado caused damage to our roof ripping off about 7 ridge tiles which were through about 20 feet across the roof into the road in front of the house. The sudden change in air pressure threw the loft hatch up into the loft. Besides this, damage was caused to garden fences and chairs etc.

A rare and very local event fortunately no one hurt.

Saturday 3 November 2007

Do you take this sexbot...?

David Levy deserves to be taken seriously. However some of you may find this statement from his new book Love and Sex with Robots a bit of a challenge:

"I expect marriage with robots to be legalized in some countries by the middle of this century."He says that in a few decades, artificial intelligence will be so sophisticated that physical and emotional intimacy between robots and humans will become the norm. And he's convinced they'll make great lovers. More importantly, he predicts couples will be able to improve their relationships by honing their love-making skills on robots. Seriously.

Thursday 1 November 2007

PC Purtians to abolish Christmas

Christmas should be 'downgraded' to help race relations says Labour think tank

Christmas should be downgraded in favour of festivals from other religions to improve race relations, says an explosive report.
Labour's favourite think-tank says that because it would be hard to "expunge" Christmas from the national calendar, 'even-handedness' means public organisations must start giving other religions equal footing.


I dont think this will be a vote winner, but we could all, save a lot of money that we would otherwise spend on useless presents and too much food

Just for the record Christmas has been banned before, when Oliver Cromwell Banned Christmas

When Oliver Cromwell established the Protectorate in England in 1653, it was a much a religious revolution as it was political. Cromwell and the victorious Parliamentarians belonged to the protestant religous sect known as the Puritans.The Puritans were so named becuase of their attempts to "purify" the Christian church by adopting more basic forms of worship. And among their chief targets was anything that could be tied to the practices of the Roman Catholic Church -- and, by extension the Anglican, or Church of England.Including the celebration of Christmas.Driven by Puritan notions of religious purity, in 1647 Parliament banned the celebration of Christmas. Gone were such pagan ideas as Christmas Trees, feasting, caroling, and decorations (and, indeed, they were borrowed from Pagan winter celebrations) . Nativity scenes were banned as the worship of idols. Indeed, even the word Christmas was frowned upon as taking the Lord's name in vain.One thing that the Puritans objected to in particular was the idea of Wassailing, in which the underclass would go from house to house, begging for treats in exchange for drinking a toast to the family. The drink, wassail, was a hot spiced wine. The result of the wassailing sometimes was an out of control drunken revelry, which is why the Puritans objected so strenuously.The ban was lifted in 1660, after Cromwell was ousted. But the Puritans were not the first to discourage Christmas celebrations. In 1583, the Scotch Presybterians decided that there were no bibical foundations for a Christmas celebration. Christmas remained a normal working day for Scots until 1958.The anti-Christmas movement made its appearance in the New World when the Pilgrims (known then as the Separatists) banned Christmas celebrations in 1659. They, too, thought that it had too many pagan overtones. It also apparently reminded them of the Church of England, which they had left behind.The ban in Massachusetts lasted for 22 years.Today, Christmas celebrations still are banned by some religious groups, including the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Baa humbug :-)

Wednesday 31 October 2007

The price we all pay for the Governments inability to make decisions

Britain faces the prospect of power shortages and soaring prices this winter after the National Grid warned of a shortfall in electricity-generating capacity yesterday. The alert coincides with a surge in gas prices, which are now 40% higher than in continental Europe, and the confirmation that a vital import plant in South Wales will not be operational this winter.


This demonstrates the need for base load energy generation based on non carbon fuels. In my view, the Government will not make any decison until voters start dying of cold in signifcant numbers or the lights start going out in London!!!

Friday 6 July 2007

Success in Photography

News of some success in photographic endeavours. A number of my photograph have been exhibited at the Malden Camera Club as part of the Malden Fortnight.

Malden Camera Club Exhibition

Malden camera Club

One of my photographs has been used as part of a web site detailing the history of the Columbia River in Washington State USA. The photograph is of one of the decommissioned Hanford reactor. Photo credit.

Wednesday 4 July 2007

The IRIS IT Project

LogicaCMG have recently issued a press release about the IT Project they are delivering for the MOD and for which I am the Business Manager

Saturday 30 June 2007

UFO December 1980 in Rendlesham Forest

UFO December 1980 in Rendlesham Forest

The recent report in the Daily Mail on UFOs brought back to me a rather interesting request I once received.

"At the time I was employed as a radiation protection expert by the MOD. In one of the stranger phone enquires I had to deal with, I was asked to comment on the radiation readings. Which to the best of my recollection, I said were somewhat above background, but could not confirm whether or not they were indicative of a UFO because I had no idea of what radiation signature of a UFO was."


"The best-known UK incident occurred in December 1980 in Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk. In the early hours of December 26, personnel at RAF Bentwaters (a base leased to the USAF) reported strange lights in the forest. Thinking an aircraft had crashed, they went to investigate.

What they found, witnesses say, was a UFO. They took photographs (which they were later told hadn't come out) of the brightly illuminated craft and one of the men got close enough to touch the object, which then took off and flew away. The stunned men briefed their bosses, including the deputy base commander, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Halt.

Halt ordered the men to make official witness statements, including sketches of the craft. The following night Halt was at a social function when a flustered airman burst in, saluted and said: "Sir, it's back."

Halt looked confused and said: "What's back?" "The UFO, Sir. The UFO is back," the airman replied.

Halt and a small team went to investigate. His intention, he later reported, was to 'debunk this nonsense'. As they went into the forest, their radios began to malfunction and powerful mobile searchlights cut out. Suddenly, Halt and his team saw the UFO and attempted to get closer. At one point it was directly overhead, shining a bright beam of light down on them.

After these events, Halt ordered an examination of the area where the UFO had been seen on the first night. Three indentations were found in the ground where the craft had landed. A Geiger counter was used and radiation readings were taken, which peaked in the three holes. Halt reported it to the MoD and an investigation began.

This was inconclusive, but Defence Intelligence Staff assessed the radiation readings taken at the landing site were 'significantly higher than the average background'. The MoD's case file on the incident has only recently been released under the Freedom of Information Act.

see also http://www.nickpope.net/

Nick Pope also makes reference to advice recived from DRPS on the significance of the radiation measurements


Wednesday 23 May 2007

O for a better day

A steady climb
Originally uploaded by Fred Dawson.
Taken by London Bridge on a dull windy and wet sunday, O for the return of warmer weather

Wednesday 4 April 2007

Breathing polluted city air may be worse for you than fallout from an atom bomb

Breathing polluted city air may be worse for you than fallout from an atom bomb

The Times reports that Breathing polluted city air may be worse for you than fallout from an
atom bomb"


Everyday hazards such as inhaling polluted city air or other people's cigarette smoke are potentially worse for your health than being exposed to the radioactive fallout of an atomic bomb, according to new research."

It appears from this article that either air pollution in cities is farmore harmful than previously thought or that ionising radiation is farless harmful than many people would have us believe. I tend to the latter, that ionising radiation is less harmful and is best described as a rather weak carcinogen.

Saturday 17 March 2007

Green Fly mass attack

Green Fly mass attack
Originally uploaded by Fred Dawson.
Its time to wage war on the insect population in my garden, before the destroy my plants

Friday 16 March 2007

Polonium 210 Ground Zero

Polonium 210 Ground Zero "The Millennium Hotel London"

I had no fears about attending the recent Safegrounds conference on radioactively contaminated land, despite warnings from the low level radiation campaign

The bar is now open and well attended; however the gents toilet continues to be blocked off presumably to allow for the decay of the remaining Polonium. So the ladies toilet has been adapted to cater for both men and women

My confidence was based on advice provided by the Health Protection Agency, who use the more widely accepted risk models rather than some of the more extreme and radical models.
The move radical models tend to be based on research that in many cases has not had the benefit of scientific peer review.

Saturday 10 March 2007

Kite Boarding in Richmond Park

Spring is here and people are up and away. This was shot in Richmond Park this morning. I am thinking I will have to buy Joshua a kite, so I can have a go at this !!!!

Wednesday 21 February 2007

Tony Blair Road Pricing, the Reply

Tony Blair Road Pricing:

This is the letter sent by Tony Blair to all those who signed the E-petition on road charging.

The reply attempts to be all things to all people and in doing so, adds little new to the debate. It remains to be seen what the next steps in the debate are. But at least this E-petition has galvanised thinking about the power of the internet to spark polictical and social dialogues on contentious issues.

Tuesday 20 February 2007

New Symbol Launched to Warn Public About Radiation Dangers

New Symbol Launched to Warn Public About Radiation Dangers: "With radiating waves, a skull and crossbones and a running person, a new ionizing radiation warning symbol is being introduced to supplement the traditional international symbol for radiation, the three cornered trefoil."

IAEA Video http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/Multimedia/Videos/NewRadiationSymbol/index.html

The message appears to be : We all going die, run for your life!!

Monday 19 February 2007

Chemicals put 27,000 people a year at risk | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited

Chemicals put 27,000 people a year at risk Special reports Guardian Unlimited

Chemical spills, leaks and explosions put up to 27,000 people at risk of injury in a single year, according to the most extensive government survey yet of chemical accidents. More than 3,000 people suffered effects including poisoning and burns from contamination during 2005.

The Health Protection Agency's report includes hundreds of incidents involving mercury, asbestos, carbon monoxide and pesticides; it reveals 1,040 accidents involving potentially harmful leaks and emissions of chemicals directly affected an estimated 27,000 people, with up to 3,400 reporting symptoms of exposure. A fifth of accidents were industrial but nearly as many were in people's homes.

HPA report can be found at

It's intresting to consider how much effort the nuclear sector puts into controling discharges and reducing discharges close to zero. These resources might return a greater safety benefit if they were directed to reducing chemical leaks, spills and explsoions

Sunday 18 February 2007

Urban turbines struggle to turn a profit-News-UK-Science-TimesOnline

Wind Vs nuclear a no brainer?

Urban turbines struggle to turn a profit-News-UK-Science-TimesOnline: "

Having spent £13,000 on installing a wind turbine at his home, John Large is disappointed at the return on his investment, which amounts to 9p a week.

At this rate, it is calculated, it will take 2,768 years for the electricity generated by the turbine to pay for itself, by which time he will be past caring about global warming."

My be John Large should opt for Nulcear

Friday 16 February 2007

Drunk Aussie attacks a shark

Only in Australia: Strange but true Drunk Aussie attacks a shark: "A drunk Australian fisherman wrestles a bronze whaler shark and survives to tell the story.

Thursday 15 February 2007

The uneasy relationship between science and politics

BBC NEWS Science/Nature Politics and science - chalk and cheese?: "Former president of the Royal Society, Lord May, looks at the uneasy relationship between science and politics."

Politicians must decide on many aspects of our lives governed by science, from climate change to medicine to the food we eat. How do they determine the right course of action? Former government chief scientist and Royal Society president, Lord May, examines the crucial but uneasy relationship between politics and science.

The current example in which I have an interest is the "managing radioactive waste safely" process. This is case in point,where science togther with politics play a critical roles in the decision making process.

However the best laid plans of government can come undone, when due process is not followed see:-


Government loses nuclear power case

This sorry story demonstrates that it doesn’t pay to take short cuts with due process. It is always better to take some short term pain for success in the longer term.

The key points are

Greenpeace said the government failed to present clear proposals and information on key issues surrounding a new generation of nuclear power stations, such as the disposal of radioactive waste and the financial costs of building new plants. Mr Justice Sullivan agreed, saying the information given on waste was "not merely inadequate but also misleading". He added that information of substance did not emerge until after the consultation period had ended.

The consultation document gave every appearance of being simply an "issues paper".

It contained no actual proposals and, even if it had, the information given to consultees was "wholly insufficient for them to make an intelligent response".

Mr Justice Sullivan said “Something has gone clearly and radically wrong" with the consultation exercise.

Fairness required that consultees should be given a proper opportunity to respond to that substantial amount of new material before any decision was taken.


It is also ironic in view of my post last May, where I said "Who says that decison has not already been taken !!!"

The next question is whether the Government will appeal the judgement; if it does not, it will be interesting to see how the government puts the wheels back on!!

Wednesday 14 February 2007

Cleopatra's ugly truth

BBC NEWS England Tyne Coin shows Cleopatra's ugly truth: "A coin bearing the image of Cleopatra suggests the Egyptian queen's beauty may have been overstated."

Seems that those who wrote the history of Cleopatra had little knowledge of her true likeness

Tuesday 13 February 2007


Originally uploaded by Fred Dawson.
Made in Africa from recycled car and bike parts. An example of recycling that brings economic benefits to third world countries

Mashup programming - News feeds

Introducing Pipes: "What Is Pipes?

Pipes is a hosted service that lets you remix feeds and create new data mashups in a visual programming environment. The name of the service pays tribute to Unix pipes, which let programmers do astonishingly clever things by making it easy to chain simple utilities together on the command line.

Philosophy Behind the Project
There is a rapidly-growing body of well-structured data available online in the form of XML feeds. These feeds range from simple lists of blog entries and news stories to more structured, machine-generated data sources like the Yahoo! Maps Traffic RSS feed. Because of the dearth of tools for manipulating these data sources in meaningful ways, their use has so far largely been limited to feed readers."

e-communication a problem for Government

The Evening Standard Reports that Senior ministers have vented their anger at Downing Street for allowing petitions on its website. One high-ranking member of the Government said the idea had been dreamt up by a "prat" and was proving to be a public relations disaster.

This is another example where politics and public opinion collide. Any sensible person should have anticipated that the platform which e-communication provides, has the ability to destabilise the historic process by which Governments make decisions on contentious issues.

The great road toll fiasco News This is London:

Link to the e-petitions page

Road To Alabama

Jeremy Clarkson and his Team provoke the wrath of conservative Americans whilst crossing Alabama. An unsurprising insight in the psyche of some of those who live in the Deep South. This YouTube video tells the story


Monday 12 February 2007

A menace to science

"For years, 'Dr' Gillian McKeith has used her title to sell TV shows, diet books and herbal sex pills. Now the Advertising Standards Authority has stepped in. Yet the real problem is not what she calls herself, but the mumbo-jumbo she dresses up as scientific fact, says Ben Goldacre"

A menace to science Special reports Guardian Unlimited:


Another but ryhming take on Gillian Mckeith can be found at :-

Monsanto dumped toxic waste in UK | Waste and pollution | Guardian Unlimited Environment

A critical test of the Part IIA Regulations relating to contaminated land

Monsanto dumped toxic waste in UK Waste and pollution Guardian Unlimited Environment

It will be interesting to see how this turns out and how long it takes, I won't be holding my breath!!!!