Category: BBC News

My eclipsetography

As you are quite possibly aware, today was #eclipse2015 day. In fact, today’s was one of the “best solar eclipses in years“, according to BBC News. I’m sure the eclipse must be proud of itself — well done, eclipse!

I won’t bore you with explanations of what eclipses are or how to see them. Or that you shouldn’t look directly into the sun (as Alan Partridge might say: political correctness gone mad). Or that it was cloudy in Dublin.

Over here in Galway, on the west coast of Ireland, at the very edge of Europe, we had a reasonably good view of things. I did all the tricks, looking at the sun’s reflection on a blackened polished surface (in the style of Perseus staring at Medusa in his shield), getting my camera lense to ‘wear sunglasses’ in an effort to avoid whiteout, letting loose and staring at the sun anyway (#YOLO).

Not that I was immediately successful with my photography. Lots of my initial attempts looked like this:

Slowly, I got the hang of things and figured out a few workarounds. Such as adjusting the aperture and shutter speed to minimise the exposure. And other pro-tips too. Opening the window, for example (in lieu of washing it). And not shaking the camera. All the clever stuff…

Eventually I got something like this:

getting there

Getting there

Which was okay, but not spectacular. So I kept at it and then, ultimately, it all came good and I got this baby….


Your next wallpaper. Well, *my* next wallpaper…

Way-hay-hay-hay-hay-haaaay! I have to say I’m quite pleased with that.

Then, struck by the thought that there isn’t a solar eclipse every day (and not another one until 2026), I set about recording other stuff, including several poor attempts to get a Vine of myself making crescent silhouettes with a colander. I also documented the eerie gloominess that the eclipse wreaked near my house:


Almost scary

Less scary

Less scary

And in the end I had to pack it all in, in order to go to stupid work.

But it was all pretty cool I thought. By all accounts it looks as though the eclipse was as good in Galway as it was anywhere else in Ireland, which probably accounts for all the passers by I saw, dotted around streets and pavements, staring motionless at the sky as in some weird science fiction movie.

And then later it was all over. Everyone just went back to normal, oblivious to the fact that in past centuries such an event would have threatened the very fabric and order of human society itself.

Oh well. That’s it for another 11 years or so.

Here’s to #besteclipseofalltime2026!

Suarez: Nature or nurture? BBC expert unable to specify, quoted extensively nonetheless


Reasons why footballer-biting-other-footballer resulted from nature (i.e., the passing of traits from parent to offspring at a biological, or genetic, level):

“I would suggest he is hard-wired in this way. It’s not something that’s going to come out of his character with a few sessions with a psychologist…It’s in the man.”

That was “leading sports psychologist” Tom Fawcett, quoted by the BBC.

The implication is that interventions aimed at curbing such biting will prove to be futile because this guy is biologically pre-programmed (i.e., hard-wired) to do these things, and his behaviour is not accounted for by his experiences or environment. Thus, giving him new experiences ought not affect his behaviour.

Reasons why footballer-biting-other-footballer resulted from nurture (i.e., the emergence of traits in a person’s lifetime as the result of life experiences and environmental conditions):

“The formative years of people’s development do contribute to their personality. If you look at his history, Suarez had a fairly hard upbringing, which would have been fighting for survival – he was streetwise.”

Tom again. Continue reading “Suarez: Nature or nurture? BBC expert unable to specify, quoted extensively nonetheless”

Bandwagon latest: ‘Science news’ with tenuous World Cup relevance doing the rounds right now

1. Analyzing John Brooks’ Dream About Scoring the Winning Goal

Source:, ‘HEALTH’ section (17 June)

One-line summary:  A US soccer player scored a goal and then says he previously had a dream about doing so. So then, can your dreams predict or influence your future? Scientists say maybe or maybe not. By which they mean: ‘Actually not.’

We know it’s on the bandwagon because they say:So while it’s not exactly ‘scientific’…

World Cup relevance: 4/5

Science relevance: 2/5


2. The Story Behind the Foam That World Cup Refs Use To Stop Cheating

Source: (17 June)

One-line summary: That vanishing spray, invented in 2002, is now on TV a lot. So without actually explaining how it works, here’s what a ‘free kick’ is.

We know it’s on the bandwagon because they say: Continue reading “Bandwagon latest: ‘Science news’ with tenuous World Cup relevance doing the rounds right now”

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