Flat-pack physics

I had the great honour of being invited back to my alma mater at Keele University yesterday evening. Except this time I found myself on the other side of the lectern, speaking to the Keele Physics Centre about how the art of origami is having a profound impact on the way we build things in physics.

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Family

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The RNLI has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I come from a seafaring family and my dad taught me to sail on the winding rivers of East Anglia. After a career in the merchant navy, he found his way into the RNLI as a training officer. And he was smitten. He loved being out on the water and was soon responsible for all of the lifeboat stations on the east coast of England, from Berwick-upon-Tweed down to Rye Harbour. Continue reading

Oh. Erm, well…

It was another of those ‘Brexit’ moments. I checked the online news this morning and assumed I must be reading it wrong. So I read it again. And again. But the news remained the same. Donald Trump has been elected 45th President of the United States. And depending on whom you believe, it’s either the dawn of a new political era or the end of days. Personally, I’m guessing it’ll be somewhere in the middle. Continue reading

This explains everything (or, at the very least, quite a lot)

I had an interesting conversation with my mother last night. That in itself is not, I hasten to add, sufficient reason to devote a blog post to it. But the topic of the conversation is, because it explains quite a lot about how our country has got itself into such a pickle about the European Union. Continue reading

On pastures new

I’ve been to the Lake District three times now. And each time I go there my love for this remote corner of the country grows a little bit stronger. But I’m very aware that I do little more than skim across the surface of this ancient and revered landscape. I do not truly know it. I do not understand it. And I most definitely do not belong. Continue reading

The Tories’ populist agenda seeks to silence the voices of reason

The Conservative Party conference has opened the floodgates to a torrent of populist policies aimed firmly at what Theresa May calls ‘ordinary working-class people’. The NHS is to become self-sufficient in British doctors. British firms will come under increasing pressure to hire British workers. Our military will ‘opt out’ of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The hard-working people of Britain, says Theresa May, will no longer be ignored by ‘the powerful and the privileged’. And she rails against those who see their patriotism as ‘distasteful’ and call their fears about immigration ‘parochial’.

The message is clear: If you’re working hard to make ends meet, the Tories are the party for you. Continue reading

Grammar schools are not the answer

The Prime Minister claims that her plans to create more grammar schools will enhance social mobility and will help to bring about a truly meritocratic society. They will, she says, create ‘a country that works for everyone’.

Sure. Because grammar schools proved so good at doing just that the first time around.

What Mrs May’s proposals will do, of course, is appeal hugely to the seething mass of baby-boomer Tory voters who just can’t wait to get us back to the good old days of the 1950s and serve as a temporary distraction from the Government’s shambolic approach to all things Brexit. Continue reading

A little perspective, please.

Quite a lot of people seem to have spent quite a lot of time over the last couple of days talking about Jeremy Corbyn’s train journey from London to Newcastle. And while the idea of a senior politician venturing outside the capital – and on public transport, no less – is verging on the newsworthy, I can’t help but think that we’re getting distracted from the things that actually matter. Continue reading

Our task now is to fight

This is not the future that I would have chosen for myself. Indeed, it is not the future that I did choose for myself in the referendum last Thursday. But we are where we are. And where we are is on the way out of the European Union. But this does not mean that we should just give up. Our task now is to fight. Continue reading