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

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.,,2013618,00.html

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!!!!