Section: Science/Technology

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A scientist’s homage to the creative artist

Colin White

Once again, it would appear the government is revisiting its plans, first mooted towards the start of this year, to limit the number of students studying what they deem to be inappropriate courses. Courses which they consider unlikely to create instant taxable wealth for the exchequer, and/or to lead to solid, reliable starting salaries which […]

“The most profound experience I can imagine”

Colin White
model of Captain Kirk, Star Trek

So spoke the nonagenarian William Shatner (a.k.a. Captain James Tiberius Kirk) as emotion overcame him on his return from what we can (questionably) classify as space. An historic defining moment in the evolution of space travel. However, it would appear not everyone agrees. The Duke of Cambridge, for one, has suggested in a BBC interview […]

Sidmouth Science Festival 8-17 October

Colin White

Fancy a bit of post-lockdown educational fun? Why not give a Science Festival a try? Think of Sidmouth and what springs to mind? The Regency architecture, perhaps? The wonderful rock formations and colourations of the Jurassic Coast? Or maybe the gorgeous, flamboyant, mad turmoil that is its famous annual folk festival? How about the Sidmouth […]

The final hurricane : Inspiration4 comes at a great cost to the planet

Graham Hurley

Cape Canaveral, home of the Kennedy Space Centre, is in Florida.  The Sunshine State has long been the favourite destination for hundreds of thousands of tourists, many of them British, in search of warmth, fabulous beaches, and the many excitements of Disneyworld.  More recently, along with neighbouring Alabama and Louisiana, it has also become ground […]

Vocational exams and educational vandalism

Mick Fletcher
trainee plumbers

Government policy, even when wrong, can usually be understood.  Recent proposals for ‘chain gangs’ of offenders in high vis jackets for example might make no sense in terms of reducing crime but are explicable as an appeal to authoritarian voters.   Expert advice was clear that the privatisation of the probation service was doomed to failure, […]

National Meadows Day: a tale of two meadows

Miles King
meadow with orchids

Wildflower meadows have their day in the sun today, Saturday 3 July: National Meadows Day. National Meadows Day is a new thing, just a few years old, but it seems to have captured the public’s imagination, and rightly so. Because wildflower meadows encapsulate a beautiful coming-together of people and nature, creating something sublime which everyone […]

So you want to take up astronomy?

David Love

Wonderful! You will be joining a worldwide community of several million people who are endlessly fascinated by, and eager to understand, the universe we live in. Astronomy can be studied at so many levels, and there is a level to suit everyone.  This could simply be enjoying the delights of stargazing (with or without a […]

Discord not development: Robert Halfon’s recipe for the ‘left behind’

Mick Fletcher
young pupil completing exam paper

If further proof was needed that this administration is more concerned to play politics than to govern the country well, the recent report of the Education Select Committee provides it. The committee chose to tackle an important and urgent issue – the failure of our education system adequately to prepare large numbers of young people […]

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 […]

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, […]