Science and Technology

Where are the women in physics?

Submitted by AWL on 18 October, 2018 - 2:50 Author: Les Hearn
Emmy Noether

Physics pervades our lives, not just in the experiences of gravity, momentum, heat and cold that our ancestors would have felt but with the engines, electricity, communications and computing that are now taken for granted. The laws of physics have been elucidated by a group of people unknown for much of human history - scientists - and this group has been largely, but not entirely, male, the balance changing slowly throughout the last century.

Save the planet, stop fracking!

Submitted by AWL on 10 October, 2018 - 12:39 Author: Mike Zubrowski

On 8 October, a scientists’ panel convened by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, after surveying more than 6,000 scientific studies, reported that the world is on course for catastrophic warming by the end of the century, due to carbon emissions.

And this same week the first UK site for “horizontal fracking” looks set to start in Lancashire.

“Fracking” pumps pressurised liquid deep underground to fracture rock, releasing natural gas. “Horizontal fracking” also drills sideways, accessing larger underground areas.

Psychedelic drugs as therapy

Submitted by SJW on 6 June, 2018 - 12:14 Author: Todd Hamer
Micro dose

On 19 April 1943, Swiss chemist Albert Hoffmann ingested a small dose of a chemical he had synthesised and experienced the world’s first LSD trip. His experience ushered in two decades of experimentation and clinical research into psychedelic drugs until it was cut short by prohibition in 1970.

We're here because we're here

Submitted by AWL on 17 March, 2018 - 7:15 Author: Les Hearn
Stephen Hawking

We’re here because we’re here

Les Hearn wrote this review of a Brief History of Time in 1989 for Socialist Organiser. We reprint it as a tribute to Stephen Hawking who died on 14 March.

In 1963, when he was a student, Stephen Hawking was told he had motor neurone disease and had possibly two years to live. Now, confined to a wheelchair, unable to move, breathing through a hole in his windpipe, communicating by computer and voice synthesiser, he is one of the world’s leading theoretical physicists.

Will the counter-revolution be tweeted?

Submitted by SJW on 14 March, 2018 - 11:39 Author: Martin Thomas

False news spreads on Twitter much faster than truth. Researchers at MIT have published the results of research into 126,000 fact-checkable stories tweeted or retweeted between 2006 and 2017 (

True stories rarely reached more than 1000 people through retweeting; the top 1% of false-news tweet-cascades got to 10,000 or more.

True reports took six times as long as falsehoods to reach 15,000 people. Falsehoods were 70% more likely to be retweeted than truths.

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).

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