Section: Science/Technology

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Adieu Erasmus, bonjour Turing? A French perspective

Geneviève Talon

The celebrated Erasmus Plus programme started as a large-scale exchange programme for university students across the EU. It also provides grants for a wide range of activities, including the opportunity for students to undertake work placements abroad and for teachers and education staff to attend training courses. In 2018, the European Commission adopted an ambitious […]

Debunking Covid-19 myths: part 5 – a closer look at Lateral Flow Tests UPDATED

Emma Monk

One of the areas where I keep coming across a lot of misinformation relates to Covid-19 testing. I covered all the various misconceptions surrounding polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, including what it can and can’t detect, whether there are lots of false positives and whether the inventor of PCR really said PCR shouldn’t be used […]

This Good Earth – recording of WCB event now available

Editor-in-chief

For those who missed the West Country Bylines event on 11 Feb 2021, the director Robert Golden has produced an audio record of the proceedings. As it was a recording of a zoom event, the sound can be erratic so please make allowances. The event was a special Q&A session following the release of Robert […]

How the government killed and maimed us in Feb/Mar 2020

Michael Rosen

Michael Rosen is calling for an inquiry into the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. He has asked people to share this piece widely. Please sign this petition, calling on the government to hold that vital inquiry. Feb 3 2020Boris Johnson – speech in Greenwich “And in that context, we are starting to hear some […]

‘Woke wars’: let’s hear it for the National Trust’s long history of radicalism

Tom Scott

When the National Trust was founded, it wasn’t just ‘woke’ – it was revolutionary. Yesterday, the National Trust published an interactive online map that shows how climate change threatens the countryside, coastline and historic houses in its care – including many sites in the South West. Extreme heat and humidity, coastal erosion, landslides, floods and […]

On feast and famine

Anthea Bareham

Throughout my childhood we had a feast almost every day – not just on special occasions – every day. I expect you did too. We ate meat. Almost every day. Last week I attended a Guardian online webinar, one of Fairtrade Fortnight’s events. The topic was ‘The impact of the climate crisis on global food […]

Brace for denial

Mick Carter

Introduction This is an article inspired by the BBC podcast How They Made Us Doubt Everything. It explores the techniques used by those wanting to delay or stop action on climate change, and the disproportionate impact these have had on public opinion. I am not a climate scientist but my work has been connected with […]

Cornish gems – a box set of articles

Editor-in-chief
Cornish tin mine on the coast

In case you missed them, here’s a collection of articles from Cornish writers or on Cornish (or Isles of Scilly) subjects. Please share! You are our distribution network! If you have a story to tell, please get in touch: cornwall@westcountrybylines.co.uk; devon@westcountrybylines.co.uk; dorset@westcountrybylines.co.uk and somerset@westcountrybylines.co.uk Look out for box sets from Devon, Somerset and Dorset!

Does anyone know Russell Crowe? THE Russell Crowe?

Sadie Parker

If you’re not on Twitter, you may have heard terrible things about it. Indeed, it can be a very toxic place, especially UK ‘political’ Twitter, which is a maelstrom of Johnson’s Trumpist pronouncements, amplification by his forgiving fans and robust rebuttals from lovers of truth. Except every now and then something wonderful happens. I remember […]

Goodbye Erasmus – hello nothing?

Alan Butt Philip

It was apparently a last-minute decision – taken unilaterally by Boris Johnson’s government and announced on Christmas Eve. The UK is pulling out of the EU’s Erasmus programme. This is the scheme, launched in 1987, which has enabled over three million European students to spend up to a year studying or working in another EU […]

Winter gardening for wildlife: part 1 – feed the birds!

Anna Andrews

Continuing her series on gardening for wildlife, Anna Andrews looks at how to attract birds to your garden Ok, I know it’s not really ‘gardening’, but probably the best and most immediate way to help wildlife is to feed the birds, and virtually any outdoor space can be used whether you have a garden, a […]

Rewilding comes to a Devon valley

Simon Chater

Local environmental charities are working to increase Devon’s tree populations. Simon Chater was delighted to take part. For nearly 40 years I’ve lived in an old farmhouse in one of the loveliest spots in the South West – the valley of the Holy Brook, a tributary of the Dart. A livestock farmer sold me the […]

Something lost to find again

Catrina Davies

Catrina Davies discovered her true self in Europe. In September she left Cornwall for Portugal, from where she reflects on severance, belonging and betrayal. When I was ten my parents took me and my sisters to France for a week. We drove onto the ferry at Plymouth, all squashed into our Citroen AX, disembarked in […]

The disinformation pandemic

Tom Scott

In the early hours of New Year’s Day, Dr Matthew Lee, a young medic working at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, tweeted a video of the scene that confronted him when he stepped out of the hospital after completing a late shift in A&E. As he described it: “Hundreds of maskless, drunk people in huge […]

Awards part two: some more good people, thankfully!

Anthea Simmons

Most dogged defenders of our food & farming standards: Devon MPs Ben Bradshaw, Luke Pollard and Dorset MP Simon Hoare stand amongst those who braved the government to demand standards be enshrined in law and not on the table in any future trade deals. (Devon MP Neil Parish almost made it into this select group, […]

Digital divisions and the Tower of Babel

Mick Fletcher

People often talk of the ‘digital divide’, a gulf that separates those with access to IT and social media from others who lack the means or the understanding to engage with it. Some go further and speak of ‘digital natives’, those who have grown up with new technology and assimilated its ways like a child […]

Box set: a pot pourri of delights

Anthea Simmons

We’re not all about politics, climate change and Covid-19 at West Country Bylines. We try to bring you some deliciously diverse fare. Here’s a selection of articles you may have missed. Please enjoy and share!

Hearts of Oak

Canon Robin Murch

Since I was a child I have always had a love of oak trees. In the war years my anxious mother would send my brother and me into the garden to play. It was a nice sizeable garden with a good chicken run to interest us. There at the end of the garden stood a […]

Locked out: a cautionary tale

Anthea Simmons
a close up of a door lock

Yesterday I did a stupid thing. Let me rephrase. Yesterday I did a really stupid thing. I had gathered up some big bags of clothes to go to one of the few charity shops able to take donations, grabbed gloves and a warm scarf and a furry hat and waltzed off out of the house, […]

Become a curator: devouring digital culture in lockdown

Rachel Marshall

In the week before our second national lockdown started, I spent a glorious morning at Exeter’s newly reopened Royal Albert Memorial Museum. Six days later the museum closed again. It was such a treat to be able to view exhibits – photographic portraits of influential women and examples of the stunning lace produced around Honiton […]

Weird and wonderful words – week 4

Sadie Parker

Rejoice! Lockdown is almost over – sort of. I was hoping this would be a universal moment of ‘euneirophrenia’: the feeling of contentment that comes from waking up from a pleasant dream. Sadly, for those exiting lockdown to enter into tier three, it probably won’t feel all that much different to being in actual lockdown. […]

Weird and wonderful words – week 3

Sadie Parker

Well that didn’t last long. Here we are, back on the ‘sorry-go-round’ – trapped in a repetitive cycle of depressing actions or events. There were glimmers of good news. Hope of a vaccine, and even of vaccines, plural. Lewis Hamilton became the most successful Formula-1 champion ever, raising the spirits of Britain’s sports fans. The […]

A breath or two of hope

Jo Molyneux

Recently I have begun feeling a little swamped by depressing stories regarding the scale of Covid-19 infections, Tory party skullduggery, disinformation and the state of our planet. There are a million and one minor stresses for us all, on top of that. It didn’t feel quite so bad in the summer, but now the nights […]

…and on another front of the culture war

Eric Gates

“The National Trust has been contacted by the charity regulator over claims that it has strayed from its ‘clear, simple purpose’ to preserve historic buildings and treasures. Regulators approached the charity this month after receiving complaints from the public about its review into links between its estate and slavery during the British empire.” Do people […]

The sea has set me free

Heidi Westbrook

For Heidi Westbrook, sea-swimming has brought joy, friendship and vital solace through the lockdown. For 20 years I’ve been lucky enough to have lived on a clifftop high above Newquay’s famous Towan beach. Over the years, the number of people enjoying the water has steadily grown. Once these were mainly year-round surfers and families in […]

Know your place!

Eric Gates

No, not a Conservative MP addressing his family retainers, but a very useful internet resource. If you live in the west country, or are planning to visit, Know Your Place is a brilliant website that provides details of all sorts of local historical information. If you are interested in history, or like walking, or simply […]

Boxing clever

Anna Andrews

Well, here we are again, heading for the end of the transition period without any real sign that the UK will have a proper trading arrangement with the EU, and amidst  increasingly dire warnings about possible shortages of food and other essentials. The Covid-19 pandemic has also served to expose the weaknesses in the “just-in-time” […]

The new terra incognita

Matt Borne

GPS navigation has led Matt Borne to a library abandoned to moths and mice. So he’s decided to finally switch off his satnav. I was driving to the Eden Project last week for a work thing. I’d been asked to go to the service gate, an entrance I’d used many times over the years, but […]

Kids’ puzzles

Alex Pilkington

The first West Country Weekend kids’ puzzles to keep little ones occupied. Suitable for ages 3 to 7. Just click on the file below to download and print out on A4 paper.