About Simon Perks

Writer, trail runner, hill walker, astronomer, kayaker, paddleboarder, photographer, nerd, tea drinker, lover of the sea, labrador wrangler

New article alert: Strontium isotope maps

Agricultural lime may affect validity of strontium isotope maps. A news article exploring claims by Danish researchers that the application of agricultural lime to the soil may cast doubt on the validity of strontium isotope maps used by archaeologists to understand the origin and mobility of prehistoric peoples. Perhaps understandably, this has not gone down well with archaeologists. Published by Chemistry World. Read it here.

New article alert: Long-baseline neutrino experiment

Physicists propose huge European neutrino facility. A news article introducing plans by researchers in Russia and Europe to use a particle accelerator near Moscow and a new detection facility at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea to learn more about neutrinos and their effect on the standard model of physics. Published by Physics World. Read it here.

I want my country back

It’s just over six weeks until the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union. Whether our Government will manage to agree a deal on our departure, though, or whether we’ll just ‘crash out’ without a deal (or, indeed, whether we’ll decide to not leave at all, or to not leave quite yet, or to have a second referendum, or perhaps to have another general election) remains to be seen. It’s all a bit of a mess. And it’s making me quite cross. But what angers me most is not the act of leaving, but rather the mess that this whole sorry affair has made of our country. Continue reading

New article alert: Chiral droplets

Just published: Droplets retain crystal-like structure while sliding on vertical substrate. A news article exploring work undertaken by scientists in Japan, who have observed the spontaneous self-assembly of organic molecules into macroscopic droplets that exhibit unexpected properties. Published by Chemistry World. Read it here. (Seriously, do read this. I found the discovery fascinating, and I’m not even a chemist.)

The ten paw tango

We’ve had Ozzy, our Labrador puppy, for six months now. And it’s over a year since I started Googling ‘getting a second dog’ and poring over the advice on how to make sure an existing dog and a new dog get on well. But on reflection, the internet only really gave half the story. So here’s my battle-scarred contribution to the great ‘second puppy’ debate. Continue reading

‘No deal’ planning starts here

Today I started with my preparations for a ‘no deal’ Brexit scenario, in which the United Kingdom leaves the European Union and, absent an agreement setting out our future relationship with our continental neighbours, heads off into the wilderness to do its own thing. (Which is known, in the parlance, as ‘taking back control’.) But my preparations didn’t involve stockpiling food or securing a supply of medication. Oh, no. As with most things around here, it was the dogs’ fault. Continue reading

In Newman’s footsteps

One of the many inevitabilities of higher education policy discussion is that, sooner or later, someone will raise the question of what universities are actually for. So inevitable is this phenomenon, in fact, that I’ve seen it mooted that it be named Newman’s Law, after John Henry Newman, who famously asked this question back in 1852. But in trying to give a definitive answer, I think we’re missing a trick. Because there is no single answer. Rather, there are many. And they are all equally valid. Continue reading