Monday, February 26, 2018

leaking lakes

Open Archive Day

I've been writing a couple of water-related things this month, including the China piece that just came out, and another feature I'll submit this week. These reminded me of last year's feature on the vanishing lakes - water management failures so big you can spot them from space and have to redraw maps to account for them. Kind of an early warning system for all the water challenges we're facing. Out in the open now:

The world's vanishing lakes




This map shows the world’s lakes with surface areas of 10 hectares or more. The large, dark blue areas in Canada reflect the high concentration of lakes in those regions. (Image: HydroLAB, McGill University.)



Monday, February 19, 2018

water challenges

China is changing dramatically, and one of its key challenges is the freshwater provision in the face of urbanisation, growing industries, and expanding deserts. I had a glimpse of these problems when I attended the CS3 summit on (global) water issues and wrote the White Paper about it, but have now been able to address the specific situation in China more comprehensively in my latest feature which is out now:



China's water challenges

Current Biology

Volume 28, Issue 4, 19 February 2018, Pages R135–R138


Restricted access to full text and PDF download

(will become open access one year after publication)





The Gobi desert in the north of China has been expanding in recent decades, while a gigantic tree-planting scheme aiming to stop this expansion is being criticised as misguided. (Photo: Christopher Michel/Flickr, CC BY 2.0.)

Monday, February 12, 2018

fun feature

Open Archive Day

The latest feature to emerge from behind the paywall is one I wrote just for the sheer fun of it, without any major attempts at saving the world. I guess it will be just as much fun a year later, so here it is, on permanent open access, enjoy:


Fantastic species and where to find them





Leafy seadragons are easily identified by the leaf-like appendages they use for camouflage. (Image: Greg Rouse/Josefin Stiller/Nerida Wilson.)

Friday, February 09, 2018

twisted light

Lenses in your cameras, spectacles, or other optical devices are still exactly the same as those used by Galilei and van Leeuwenhoek, a surviving example of analogue technology in a digital world. Physicists have come up with various alternative technologies that can shape light in other ways, independent of the limitations of traditional optics.

In a rare excursion into the scary world of physics, I have written a short feature about these alternative approaches, which is out now in Chemistry & Industry:

Light without lenses

Chemistry & Industry Volume 82, Issue 01, pages 34-35


open access to full (HTML) text
via SCI website

restricted access to full text and PDF file via Wiley Online Library

And my story also made the lovely cover:




Oh, and no page 42 of the same issue there is my long essay review of the book:


Astrochemistry
by Claire Vallance
World Scientific Press 2017

Monday, February 05, 2018

looking after our planet

Thanks to my recent musical adventures I have met lots of people in the last few years, and I've learned that it's always interesting to find out what they do in real life. One member of our amazing Galician tambourine crew, the Oxford Pandeireteiras, listed on Facebook the job title "Fisheries analyst at Satellite Applications Catapult" which I found intriguing so I asked her about it and the answers led to the feature that is out today:

Eyes on our planet

Current Biology Volume 28, Issue 3, pR89–R92, 5 February 2018

Restricted access to full text and PDF download
(will become open access one year after publication)





Laura Fontán Bouzas, whose work is the nucleus from which this feature grew ...

Friday, February 02, 2018

10,000 years of progress

This book, published in Bern, Switzerland, in 1940, aims "to celebrate the creators not the destroyers" a pointed hint to what the northern neighbour was doing at the time. Even the 10,000 years of the title can be read as a response to the Nazi 1000 year empire.

Designed as a popularisation for all ages, the book has a woodcut illustration on each of its 250 pages, with a very short and accessible text explaining the way in which humanity has progressed through the invention or methodology shown.

10000 Jahre Schaffen und Forschen: Die Wege des Fortschritts from Einst zum Jetzt.
Bruno Kaiser, with 266 illustrations by Paul Boesch, Pestalozzi-Verlag Kaiser & Co AG, Bern, 1940
.







PS: While I generally think that Oxfam's Oxford shops are setting prices for books too high, the foreign language books are more reasonably priced. I guess they factor in the assumption that very few people read those languages ...



Thursday, February 01, 2018

fantasia in a minor

At this year's Oxford Music Festival, I played part of the Fantasia in A minor by Telemann, and I can (sort of) play the rest as well, so I'll tick this one off. It's been a very steep learning curve, as the notes leaping around all over the place made absolutely no sense at all at first glance, and I needed the help of my teacher to find the structures in the music (and to know when to breathe).

Next up is a Romantic composition that is also part of the cello canon and was written for an instrument that has since become extinct.



I had started working on the Telemann with a free score from the internet, but then discovered this lovely old edition at an Oxfam shop.
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