Posted by Pete Hague on 10 May 2013
I've just been sent a link to a trailer to a new film "Gravity" that is coming out later this year:
Posted by Pete Hague on 18 Apr 2013
After many delays, I have finally submitted my first publication to Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS). The submitted (not reviewed or accepted) version of the paper can be viewed on the public pre-print service ArXiv. Our original intention was to make it available here after review, but making the paper public at the time of submission was a condition of the code we used. I've received informal feedback from some people in the field already, and its been positive so far. I am yet to be assigned a reviewer as of today, and expect to wait a few weeks until reviews come back.
It has taken quite a bit longer to get to this point than I originally anticipated, but I am happy with how it has turned out. It was worth taking the extra time in order to answer all the questions that came up thoroughly, and to perform extra tests to verify our method.
Posted by Pete Hague on 18 Mar 2013
Last year, an engineer walked into a McDonalds restaurant wearing a camera headset similar to Google Glass and had an altercation with the staff. At the time, I was quite sympathetic to this self-described cyborg - the staff had seemed to me to be ignorant, thuggish bullies attacking something they didn't understand. The fact that they worked for an unpleasant multinational corporation didn't endear them to me either.
However, I now think I was wrong. The physical violence of the staff in this case was excessive, but I think that this form of filming is in itself belligerent, and the 'cyborg' shouldn't have expected others to simply accept his constant filming of them. This change of mind on my part has been partly due to me paying attention to the ongoing development of Google Glass, and the issues that have been raised around it by people such as Stop The Cyborgs.
Posted by Pete Hague on 12 Mar 2013
There has been a surge in the last decade or so of individuals and groups vocally lobbying various governments, including mine, to invest more in science. They have been quite successful in the UK - science funding was shielded from government spending cuts to an extent, and the general public seems to be more well disposed towards publicly funded science. Science is riding high at the moment. However, there is a message I'd like to give to many of those involved in this kind of advocacy:
Please stop telling the government to defund my work.
Posted by Pete Hague on 04 Jan 2013
Like most bloggers, I collect information about the users who visit me. One of the things I can see if the refer - if you click on a link to the blog that is on another website, I can see the website you were previously on. Sometimes this is a Google search page, and thus you can see what search terms someone used to find a specific blog entry.
Recently I noticed that someone had found my previous blog on the subject of dark matter by searching for "can you touch dark matter". I thought this was a very interesting question, so I decided to answer it with a blog post. Reading my previous post is a good place to start if you are not familiar with dark matter. The short description is "a proposed form of invisible matter that makes up the majority of mass in the universe". It hasn't been confirmed by direct detection of a particle or emission at this point, but it is the strongest hypothesis at present to explain a number of distinct phenomena in astrophysics.
Posted by Pete Hague on 31 Dec 2012
The skeptics movement prides itself on being able to use science and reason to enlighten people, and often acts as if skeptics are the sole guardians of reason itself. Despite this self image, skeptics sometimes make grievous errors.
These folks are also looking to enlighten the masses, in a more literal manner. They are developing a cheap LED lamp powered by gravitational potential energy, designed to replace kerosene lamps in areas of the developing world that don't have access to electricity. This is good because kerosene lamps are a fire hazard, and give off carcinogenic fumes.
Posted by Pete Hague on 22 Nov 2012
I have had an idea of how to resolve some of the corporate tax avoidance problems in the UK. I've not thought it through much, and there may be some obvious flaw I am missing.
Much tax avoidance is done by online companies - their geographic flexibility makes this very easy for them. My solution would be to tax the holder of a domain a small amount for each request for that domain to a UK based nameserver. This would be straight forward to enforce, and difficult to avoid. There are some niggles I immediately spotted myself:
Posted by Pete Hague on 13 Sep 2012
The recent reshuffle of David Cameron's cabinet has prompted some discussion of whether or not his new appointees are qualified for their jobs. Much was rightly made of how we now have a Secretary of state for Health who believes in the efficacy of homoeopathy (spoiler alert: it doesn't work at all) and a Minister for Equality who doesn't believe gay people should be allowed to adopt children.
The position that most interests me though, was not subject to a reshuffle. Ed Davey remains the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate change. He is a Liberal Democrat who took over the job in February when the previous incumbent Chris Huhne had to resign over his criminal attempts to avoid a speeding fine. The fact that this position wasn't subject to a reshuffle that hit many major areas of government, and it has been held by two Lib Dems, suggests to me that Cameron doesn't consider it an important job - and this is worrying. It may even be an indication he believes the right-wing think tanks and doesn't believe climate change is a threat - which if true would be terrifying.
Posted by Pete Hague on 08 Sep 2012
As promised, I am continuing my series of posts on the process of preparing and submitting my first paper.
I've had an incredibly busy week, with two main events I want to talk about.
Posted by Pete Hague on 20 Aug 2012
Today I was speaking with various people on twitter about the subject of "privilege" - a concept I have been skeptical of since first hearing about. User @anarchic_teapot claimed that I did not understand the concept properly, and directed me to an article explaining it. I've read this, and here I will review and critique it. I shall do so by sections, using the headings from the article itself
Many times people have used this concept in debate with me, they have done so in a combative manner, which may have influenced my judgement of the idea. If someone labels me "white, male, straight, cisgender…" in the course of an argument, it sounds very much like an ad hominem attack, and a pretty disgraceful one at that, seeing as it focuses on aspects of my self that are rightfully considered off limits for discrimination in civilised society.