Science and Technology

What Google Search figures teach us

Submitted by martin on 8 January, 2018 - 5:08 Author: Martin Thomas
Google Trends

Some political tides are flowing our way a bit, but not as much as we might hope. Google's latest figures from their web search engine, released in December 2017, show that the number of people taking to the web to find out more about "socialism" is increasing in Britain, though modestly.

The worldwide picture is less encouraging. It shows spikes after the economic crash in 2008-9, and in early 2016, with publicity for Sanders and Corbyn, but no increasing trend.

1980s ozone layer to return by... 2050

Submitted by Matthew on 18 October, 2017 - 12:35 Author: Les Hearn

Good news! The ozone hole is shrinking at last, a rare success for collective action in response to scientific evidence.1 Unfortunately, it will take until 2050 to return to its 1980 levels.

This is because the chemicals largely responsible for its depletion are very stable and those already released will persist in the atmosphere until then, even if no more emissions take place. It’s 30 years since the signing of the Montreal Protocol which aimed to tackle the problem of the accelerating destruction of the ozone layer by chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

I need to make your clothes, shine your boots and drive your motorcycle

Submitted by Matthew on 26 July, 2017 - 8:28 Author: Colin Applebaum

Even those outside the tech space would struggle to have missed the recent hype around automation and artificial intelligence (AI). Fuelled by rapid developments in technological innovation hyped in the last two years, although mostly developed over the last two decades, many cerebral types suggest we may be at the start of be some significant changes in capitalist production. They even gave it a grandiose name: “The Fourth Industrial Revolution”.

Slow down in life expectancy

Submitted by Matthew on 26 July, 2017 - 7:19 Author: Charlotte Zalens

Life expectancy in England, which has been steadily rising for more than 100 years, has stalled.

Government and World Health Organisation advisor Sir Michael Marmot looked at Office for National Statistics data showing that the rate of increase in life expectancy had nearly halved since 2010.

Letters: All risks and nuclear risks

Submitted by Matthew on 8 March, 2017 - 10:26 Author: Les Hearn and Martin Thomas

The debate in Solidarity on nuclear power is in danger of missing three points. The first is that all forms of energy production carry risks; the second is that some risks are more visible than others; the third is that some risks are exaggerated while others are ignored or minimised.

Laker and Zubrowski (Solidarity 431) warn that the left should not support nuclear power because of “its radioactive byproduct, unique [but unspecified] risk” and contribution to carbon emissions.

The Anthropocene or Capitalocene?

Submitted by Matthew on 26 October, 2016 - 11:57 Author: Neil Laker

In 2008, the International Commission on Stratigraphy created a Working Group on the Anthropocene (WGA) to examine the addition of a new epoch to the geological time scale. In August 2016, all but one of the WGA’s 35 members agreed that the Anthropocene is “stratigraphically real”, and 30 agreed that the new epoch should be formally added to the time scale.

Majority opinion also indicated in favour of the view that globally synchronous changes to the Earth System most clearly intensified in the “Great Acceleration” of the mid-20th century.1

Prescription opioids: the opiate of the people

Submitted by Matthew on 19 October, 2016 - 11:47 Author: Les Hearn

The 2016 World Congress on Pain, meeting in Yokohama in late September, held a packed Special Session on Opioids. The theme was their role in pain medicine. This might seem fairly settled since the analgesic properties of opium have been known for at least 3,000 years. Not so!

The story of banning legal highs

Submitted by AWL on 8 June, 2016 - 9:27 Author: Les Hearn

“Against stupidity, the gods themselves struggle in vain”, Goethe.

Towards the end of January, “mostly supine” MPs passed a bill after a “clueless debate”.
The Psychoactive Substances Act which is intended to ban “legal highs” (novel psychoactive substances — NPSs) is “one of the stupidest, most dangerous and unscientific pieces of drugs legislation ever conceived."