Category: Broadcast media

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!

Some pieces and bits

It’s early January. That time when other people’s New Year’s resolutions mean that you get lots of emails. About really important stuff that you simply must deal with, like, immediately. These folks need a reply because they only have stamina for a few days’ frantic emailing. After the New Year energy burst, they lose all energy and then you don’t hear from them again until next year. It’s like the Monarch Butterfly migration — all flapping and fluttering and in-your-face attention-grabbing and suddenly…well suddenly it’s all over and off they disappear for another twelve months.

This year I avoided posting about science at Christmas or reviewing what amazing science-related things happened in the year gone by. Daringly, I felt compelled to ignore the clichés. (That, and I was busy, trying to finish a book no less (more on which coming soon…)).

So in tidy-up mode I was going to post something about a forthcoming public talk. But before I did that I felt it would be good etiquette to post the slides from my last public talk, from Science Week back in November. So here they are:

Like the Pony Express, I always deliver.

Happy New you-know-what!

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”

%d bloggers like this: