Category Archives: science

Engage in gossip

Gossip is defined as “unconstrained conversation or reports about other people or groups, usually suggesting information that is not confirmed or verifiable as being true”.

Gossip is a sub-product of language. Reputation, good or bad, is one of the sub-products of gossip. And branding is one of the sub-products of reputation. Another one is stereotypes. Thus, sequentially:

Language > Gossip > Reputation > Branding | Stereotypes

Both branding and stereotypes are the fuel of social interaction online. Gossip is then one of the most underrated drivers of the development of Internet. It made Facebook and Twitter the monsters of communication of today.

Engage in gossip

Gossip is cheap and quick. It allows you to amplify your communication by talking or writing about things instead of doing them. Gossip can be started with very little actual information. Gossip is so efficient in communication terms because it rides the wave of latent prejudices and stereotypes.

The physics of gossip

Gossip is engaged by all sizes and types of entities capable of communicating. An individual can engage in gossip with another single individual or a groups or groups of people. Groups of any size, from football clubs, nations or even entire population speaking a language.

Gossip is transmitted in waves between the nodes of a social graph much like virus propagate in a population.

Great white sharks in Seal Island, Mossel Bay, South Africa

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Mossel Bay, South Africa

Great white sharks hunt seals around the island swimming around it concentric circles. The sharks move to the coral reel North of Seal Island in the same Mossel Bay to rest between hunting sessions.

Sedentary lifestyle of great white sharks

Resident in the bay for at least 6 months per year.

The unsung heroes of the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster

I cannot remember the name of any of the heroes of Chernobyl. Neither can you. The reason is that there is no Hollywood drama film about Chernobyl.

A battle without (official) heroes

They are the uncomfortable truth about the nuclear accident. Thirty one emergency workers and reactor staff directly killed by the accident were the first of thousands of civilian and military casualties.

Gorbachov explained years later that one month after the explosion in the nuclear plant, the accident was far from neutralised. If the magma under the reactor reached the water layer under the plant, the rivers Pripyat, Dnieper and eventually the Black Sea would become polluted for ever.

10,000 miners where sent to dig a tunnel under the melting reactor chambers. They worked unprotected under extremely stressful conditions. They were not informed about the risk they were running working in

100,000 military and 400,000 civilians joined the liquidation. They watered the roofs of houses to remove the radiactive dust. They knocked down houses and buried them. They killed all the animals in the area. The battle of Chernobyl renders many dystopian SciFi movies a toddlers game. Remote control robots fried their circuits while pushing graphite cylinders away from the roof of the plant. 3,500 Russian soldiers (bio-robots) on 17 September 1986 had to replace the mechanical robots. They were exposed to 10,000-12,000 Roentgen / hour for 2 minutes. Their eyes hurted and they had a metallic taste in their mouths.

Gorbachov claims that the cleaning of the disaster cost was of 18,000 roubles (1 rouble = 1 dollar). The Perestroika had to deal with that cost and with the decline in the price of oil, vital for Russia commercial trade.

Population kept unaware and exposed to radiation for days

One of the learnings of the disaster, and of many others that following, including Fukushima, is that disinformation is the first consequence of a disaster. Even Gorbachev was kept away from the truth during the first hours and days from the disaster. He was told that there was an accident followed by fire. He was not informed that there had been an explosion. The Russian authorities did not disclose the official reports. So did the French about the pollution in their territory. Revealling some of the truth would have prevented many deaths and the neglect of hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled.

1,000 million dollars are expected to be spent building a cover for the reactor in 2012.

Röntgen equivalent physical
is the absorbed energetic dose before the biological efficiency of the radiation is factored in. More precisely, the rep is defined as 93 ergs per gram.

A nuclear disaster waiting to happen

The Chernobyl power plant was unsafe prior to its nuclear disaster. It had been had been in operation for 2 years without the capability to ride through the first 60–75 seconds of a total loss of electric power.


Finchley Road air quality monitoring station and pollution in Swiss Cottage

Finchley Road is probably the most polluted (and polluting) street in North West London between Regent’s Park and Brent Cross. Traffic levels in Swiss Cottage are dangerous.

The pollutants monitored include nitrogen oxides (NOx) and fine particulates or particulate matter (two sizes, PM10 and PM2.5).

The diffusers capture nitrogen dioxide, NO2. The tubes are not precise but they are convenient and cheap to monitor long term patterns of pollution. I don’t know if Swiss Cottage site measures sulphur dioxide (SO2), ozone (O3) and carbon monoxide (CO).

Surprisingly, the kerbside site in Swiss Cottage is not a meteorological monitoring. The nearest one is located at the Camley Street Nature Reserve, by the King’s Cross Gasholders, a few miles from Swiss Cottage.