Magazines etc

I also read numerous magazines and periodicals. On this page, I try to keep track of what I have read and what I have learned and/or enjoyed within each one.

New Scientist

posted 10 Mar 2010, 06:54 by DP Durlston-Powell   [ updated 10 Mar 2010, 11:31 ]

Highlights for me:

Page 8: Special Report: Climate Impacts. More revelations about fudged data in the IPCC's 2007 report (the one with made up data about the melting Himalayan glaciers) - this time exaggerating African crop failures and highlighting a report's claims of increased water stress in some areas whilst ignoring claims (from the same report) of decreased stress elsewhere. My concern of the IPCC running to an agenda rather than dealing with science in a balanced way is increased. Maybe the new chair of the section on the impact of climate change can treat things more honestly in the future and we can get away from the extreme polarisation that the climate debate has descended into.

Page 30: Earth's Nine Lives. A review of the outcome of the meeting chaired by Johan Rockstrom that set out to identify the most critical indicators of the human impact on the planet and estimate the safe levels for each. For example, how important is the change in sea acidity and how high can we safely let it get? It is very early days for this approach and it's arguable whether the limits identified hold much more validity than informed guesswork at this stage. However, it is good to see a more holistic view of human impact being considered and a move away from the sometimes entrenched (and utterly unrealistic in a complex, political world) position that any impact is bad and must be reversed.

Page 46: A Deafening Silence. A look at the progress of SETI over the past 50 years through the review of three recent books on the subject. Interesting in it's own right and a great accompaniment to this month's BBC Sky at Night programme looking at the same topic.

Other snippets. An experiment has been devised that could cast some light on the Dark Matter / MoND argument (ie Is the universe full of stuff we can't see, or is the maths wrong? I strongly suspect the latter.) The Moon's pull may be having an impact on earthquakes - if so, it may be possible to predict major earthquakes years in advance.

PC Pro

posted 11 Feb 2010, 16:20 by DP Durlston-Powell

Highlights for me:

Page 68: Smartphones. The top 24 smartphones (in the magazine's opinion) tested with full reviews of the best 15. Lots of information and I'm left... underwhelmed. The RAZR, N95 and TyTn II were all phones that I was excited by; I wanted them and was pleased when I got them, but none of the reviewed phones captures me in the same way. The best is the iPhone, but it's simply too expensive to consider so I'll probably end up going for an Andriod phone when there's one that appeals to me - this review showed me that it doesn't exist yet.

Page 87: Touchscreen PCs. As with the smartphones, this showed me that what I'm looking for doesn't seem to exist yet. I want netbook oomph and power consumption, a small touchscreen (10-14" is ideal), an even smaller wireless keyboard that will stow away in/under/behind the PC, WiFi, and a low price (max £350 inc VAT). The screen doesn't have to be wonderful, nor the speakers as I want to plug the audio into my amp and use it as an interface even my wife likes for playing the music from my NAS through the main system. Come on guys, where is it?

White Dwarf

posted 11 Feb 2010, 04:29 by DP Durlston-Powell   [ updated 11 Feb 2010, 04:53 ]

Highlights for me:

Page 106: The Golden Demon Winners. A whole 20 pages of beautifully painted and inspiring models. My favourites were (in no particular order): Chaos Space Marine Lord by Dave Neild; Ork Stompa by Paul Batchelor; Eldar Wraithlord by Tue Kaae; Chaos Daemon Prince by Kristian Simonsen; War for Macragge by Julien Casses; Witch Hunter Inquisitor by Chris Clayton, and; Ultramarine by Chris Clayton. As is often the case, most of my favourites "only" got bronze in their categories and I'm not that fussed by the slayer sword winner.

Page 46: Liber Apocalyptica: Trygons. How to make best gameplay use of these very impressive and frighteningly large tyranid models. Best not let my son see this!

Page 76: Standard Bearer. Jervis discusses conversions; what they are and why we do it. I think he's spot on about the attachment we make with our converted models. Even simple conversions of rank and file troops stay with you and is, I believe, the best place to start. My chaos warriors and knights were my first real foray, with a range of mutations being added through the inclusion of tentacles, animal heads, extra weapons and more. Even though they were badly painted, I was content in the knowledge that my units were unique. Then there was my Dark Elf army which was entirely mounted on cold ones (the old metal type), complete with champions, standard bearers, musicians, mages etc... [sigh]

Scientific American

posted 6 Feb 2010, 09:24 by DP Durlston-Powell   [ updated 11 Feb 2010, 03:13 ]

Highlights for me:

Page 28: Looking for Life in the Multiverse. Discusses how a universe can exist even if all of the four 'fundemental' forces aren't present and how life could exist there. Thereby blowing out of the water the claim that the laws of physics in our universe is just so finely balanced that they must have been put in place by a diety.

Page 60: Local Nuclear War, Global Suffering. A look at the effects of a local war between India & Pakistan going nuclear. Each country has about 60 warheads of Hiroshima size. If each launched 50, about 20 million people would be killed in the region and 5-7 teragrams of smoke would be thrown into the atmosphere. Climate modelling, backed up by obsevation of forest fires and volcanic eruptions, suggests a global cooling of 1.25ºC within a couple of months that would last for several years with temperatures still being 0.5ºC lower after 10 years, so summer frosts would damage crops. This would be accompanied by a 10% reduction in rainfall with the asian monsoons reduced by 40%. The ozone layer would also be damaged and so ultrviolet levels at the surface would increase. The hit on global food production could starve about 1 billion people.

Page 14: A Large Lump of Coal. When Earth formed, there was more oxygen than carbon, but that probably isn't the case for lots of other worlds. Therefore, other Earth-like planets likely to be discovered may have graphite crusts embedded with vast diamond seams and have carbon monoxide or methane ice rather than water ice.  Indeed, Earth is looking less average with each new discovery.

Page 46: Violent Origins of Continents. One theory about the formation of continents suggests that meteor strikes (including one the size of Mars hitting us 4.5 billion years ago) played a significant role in 'seeding' our continents by landing on volcanoes. Our oldest crust is in Australia and South Africa (and may once have been conjoined).

Other snippets: China may have 400,000 'virtual gold miners' who play online games to earn in-game gold that they then sell for hard cash. Nanotechnologies may be hazardous to our health in the same way that nanoviruses (some as small as 23 nm - a human hair being 100,000 nm thick) are. The Doomsday Clock is still being updated & the co-chair of the Bulletin is '...not optimistic that this nuclear truce will last another 60 [years].' An estimated 300,00 people in the US have Chagas disease and 800 million people (worldwide) have roundworms.

Private Eye

posted 6 Feb 2010, 09:11 by DP Durlston-Powell   [ updated 9 Apr 2010, 09:53 ]

Highlights for me:

Page 28: Boom-boom time at Annington. Apparently, the chief executive earned £2.56 million last year for managing defence housing! Indeed, according to PE, he has earned £17 million in the past 10 years. Meanwhile, the largest private landlord (similar number of houses to those snapped up by Annington) paid its chief executive £0.5 million, so it would appear that the idea of screwing money out of the military is still alive and well.

Page 5: That's the plunder of woolies. Deloitte, the accountants brought in to advise the banks when Woolworths got into difficulty, rejected the chief executives plan that would have kept the stores open and instead recommended administration - with them to conduct it. Deloitte then took £9.3 in fees for doing so!

Page 5: All MOD cons. ""But such cosy links between King's [College London] and the defence establishment have been causing concern among some historians, who fear that such a relationship threatens academic independence."

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